Harvey & the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Hoof Abscesses

Hoof Care that Has No End

Harvey, our most recent Sanctuary arrivee -- who came in with 7-inch long hooves, and who kicked, bit and had full on manic-panic attacks when touched -- has been suffering with ongoing hoof abscesses since getting his first-ever sedated hoof trimming. Upon looking out the window a few days after, we saw him hopping on 3 legs. He had a very deep infected hole in the hoof.

Harvey's Hoof Abscess

How to Handle Harvey's Feet

It has been about 3 months since our Sanctuary Manager has been following The Donkey Sanctuary UK's training program for unhandled donkeys. Today, Elise can walk up, hug him, kiss him, even lay with him!  He approaches groups of us for scratches, and has become one of the most lovable donkeys we have at the Sanctuary. EXCEPT when it comes to his feet. He is 20, and spent most of those years in excruciating pain from long deformed hooves. So it's understandable that touching his hooves is still a hot-button issue!

harvey the donkey after Donkey Sanctuary UK Training

Harvey's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Hoof Abscess

Weeks of poultices, wet and dry, soaking bags, ferrier visits, and a trip to the hospital

Front hoof, back hoof. Both hooves. It's been weeks of special ferrier visits. Some with sedation, some without. We've used soaking bags, pads, wetted poultices, dry poultices... you name it, we've been treating over and over again. It sometimes feels like the groundhog game at the state fair, where you bop one, and another one pops up.

Below are 2 videos. The front-hoof is much easier to work with. Sometimes, Elise can do this herself!  You can hear the other donkeys crying in the background as they watch (and play).

The back hoof is much different story. It takes mild sedation PLUS neck massages as one person works on the feet and the other one works to calm. Note that the Elastikon tape we've been using for his hooves is nearly $8 per roll! We've been through 36+ in just a few months.

Takes 2 to Tango with a Back Hoof