When it came to be that donkeys were coming to Wild Apple Ranch, we were rather judgmental at first. Because donkeys do not behave like horses, it is common for caregivers of horses to think of them as less clever than horses. As we spent more time with them, however, we realized that donkeys possess a unique intelligence, as well as a very special gentleness.
Our retirement and rescue donkeys provided to us an unexpected opportunity to broaden our conventional thinking about equine behavior. They guided us to open our minds in order to understand their different ways of perceiving and reacting to people and events. We found them purposefully taking their time to reason and consider a situation before deciding what to do---so different than the fight-or-flight horse, and so different than what has been termed "stubborn."
Donkeys, we have found, are very emotional and sensitive creatures. They are gentle with newcomers, whether human or animal, and are always willing to provide quiet company during difficult hours. By contrast, rather than by similarity, the inimitable donkey gave us an even clearer understanding of the horse.
Pammy and Juanita
Pammy and Juanita were a pair of mini donkeys who came to Wild Apple Ranch being extremely anemic and parasitic. They were both estimated to be over 35 years old and were not expected to survive the winter. We immediately built a low-ceiling shelter in their stall, installed a heat lamp, dressed them in handmade quilted blankets, and isolated them from the other animals.
Pammy had previously been extensively used for breeding due to her desirable petite size, and her body showed the strain it had taken. Juanita had somehow incurred the wrath of her former owner enough to be severely beaten, and her head hung crookedly due to a neck injury. She also had a persistent eye infection and her back legs involuntarily sprung out behind her as she walked.
Neither Pammy nor Juanita had many teeth, and could not receive needed nutrition from hay. They were put on senior feed and began to gain weight and a little liveliness day by day. At the end of two months, they were becoming healthy animals, and by Spring, they were braying and trotting outside to get the fresh grass. By summer, the problem legs walked normally, the head hung straighter, and both of them had endearing and lively personalities.
Although old age has now taken Juanita from us, Pammy is about to begin chiropractic adjustments to help with her spine, and whole food supplements to keep her nutritional levels at their best.