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.
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
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 walls are rasped at
the ground surface so that they are just level with the outside of
the sole. Each foot needs to be balanced correctly from side to
side and from heel to toe. However, the quarters
may need to be rasped slightly shorter than
the heel and toe, to bring the walls level with the sole in this
Both front feet should
generally be a matching pair in length and angle, as should both
The heels are short.
The frog is flattened, wide and tough and in contact with the
The frogs are trimmed
of any daggy, dead material that is hanging off.
The bars are intact.
They should be sloping down from the heel into the cleft, and only
need trimming if they are sticking out a long way from the sole or
are folded over the sole.
The concave part of the
sole has been cleaned and flaky material scraped away.
The outside ground
surface of the wall is rounded in a 'Brumby Roll', especially at
the toe to prevent chipping on hard ground.
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
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...