Today I went to visit the donks again at La Piscina and Paco had finally got hold of the paperwork from the vet. Donkey passports are very grand: they have two full size colour photos of the donkey, for identification purposes – and presumably useful control for breeders. Their birthdays are recorded, as well as other information that coordinates with their microchip identification. Most important from my point of view, I can now call them by name! Matilde and Rubí. Why Rubí is standing with her legs astride is that I had been trying to pick up her hooves to clean them with the hoof pick, but she was having none of it. The stance is her adopted pose of defiance as a response to that activity. I gave up on it because the donks started ganging up on me: when Rubí refused to let her hoof be lifted and had made a fuss several times, then Matilde – amazingly – came up close and gave me a very gentle but intentional hind-legs donkey kick! So, the exercise of getting these donks to bond together seems to have worked anyway… Now all we need is some cooperation.
So I spent my Sunday morning, grooming them, feeding them carrots and ginger biscuits, and chasing them around the paddock to give them some exercise. At one point they worked up a bit of excitement and did five circuits at a full gallop. That became a bit hair-raising as Matilde made several lunges at me as she went flying past, as if to say, “Why aren’t you running with us?” and then she nearly ran over poor Rubí who slowed down and got in the way.
The other development is a really good local contact in Finestrat, where I went along to a local stables that I intended to visit for some time and I have met and made friends with Brian Colyer, who it turns out is a farrier! He is an advocate of barefoot horses – i.e. doesn’t believe in using horseshoes. He has offered to train me in doing my donkey hoof-care and I am keen to eventually learn from his expertise. He sold me two bales of straw and is happy to supply me with all my future straw. Today I have a hire car that I took out for the weekend to buy fence posts, wire and a wheelbarrow, and go up to the Sierra Bernia to see Matilde and Rubí; but in future I shall probably use my bike trailer to take a single bale of straw from Brian’s stables to Elca Seriu: it is mainly downhill all the way.
Last but not least, having asked for advice from Barbara about diet – as “D-day” draws near (the day of donks arrival still to be arranged but mid-February is still the target), I have had a full and detailed list of do’s and dont’s. It is a big responsibility, taking on two equines for the first time, and I haven’t owned a pet animal since the Belgian hare I had when I was fourteen! Consequently, I am beginning to feel the weight of responsibility pressing down on me. These are pretty big animals with a whole load of needs. They will certainly keep me busy.
The drive over the Sierra Bernia today was glorious. I saw the Quick-Step professional cycling team out training. There were several professional teams around today, as I saw their team cars parked up on the mountain passes. I must get out on the DeRosa soon and get fit again. How to squeeze in some cycling while devoting so much time to donks and school work; that is the question!