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Principles of Donkey Hoofcare

Unfortunately for many donkeys, badly trimmed or neglected hooves are a way of life, as many farriers don't appear to have much knowledge of what a donkey's feet should be like. Therefore, hoof problems and lameness are also very common.


Because donkeys are designed to live on harder, rockier ground than many horses, their hooves are also harder and they don't do so well in the nice soft paddocks we usually put them in. In this environment they generally lack enough exercise, their hooves do not wear down and hoof mechanism is impaired. They often become very high heeled and contracted.

Unfortunately, this is the only model of donkey hoof many farriers and vets see, so it is commonly assumed to be the 'right' one, and trimming often perpetuates the problems.


A donkey's feet are different in shape from a horse's and often appear steeper, but the basic principles are the same;

The above are general principles. Not rules to be forced onto a foot. It assumes the donkey's feet are relatively healthy to begin with. In dealing with hoof problems where the feet differ greatly from this model, or with hoof related lameness, special care and considerations need to be taken. It is beyond the scope of a website site to address all of the relevant issues and *knowledgeable* hands on help should be sought.

During a trip through the West MacDonnell Ranges in Central Australia this year(2013) the 'desert' was rich with lots of water and green grass around. We saw heaps of fat feral brumbies, donkeys and camels. Unfortunately there were also dead animals, some horses that had been hit by cars, and some donkeys that had been recently shot and left there. However, these allowed me to get some rare pictures of healthy, strong donkey hooves! Without further ado...


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