I have spent three entire days now in the donkey field, working on fencing and now patching up the stable. It is a great opportunity to observe my lovely animals for hours at a time. While I have been working in school every day, I have only seen them in the mornings and evenings. What they get up to during the day has been largely a mystery. Now I have observed the pattern of their day, it seems to involve a great deal of play. They do stalking games, creeping up on each other and sneaking a bite on a leg or neck, then running away and being chased! They explore the fencing looking for weak points. (Nightmare! This looks like POW behaviour in Stalag Luft III. Thank goodness they cannot build a wooden horse.) But mostly, they do rolling in the dust for amusement. At last I have discovered where the mysterious leg abrasions happen!
Having groomed Rubi after breakfast today and inspected her legs for injuries, there was just a surface wound from several days ago that I treated with iodine and is now healed. Then she had the mid-morning rolling session in the dust. This involves a good deal of kicking out horizontally. (Note the fat belly… this is time for a diet.) The dust rolling is accompanied by loud grunts and groans. I have learned to stand clear of the flying hooves, having once got too close and came away with a bruised shin! Now watch the standing up procedure.
All that weight (including the fat tummy) is now being pushed up by the back legs. Any stones or small rocks in the dust will be the cause of those abrasions. Sure enough, on inspection shortly after the dust rolling, Rubi was bleeding from an abrasion on her rear left leg, right on the knee joint that was the contact with the ground in the push-up phase of the manouevre.
So, another job to be done… Get rid of any stones in the dust rolling area and fill it with soft sand. How did equines ever survive several million years without our help?
‘Put that camera away! This bit of the manoeuvre is really undignified.’
No, Rubi. Not quite so undignified as… Cows.