Matilde is losing her winter coat and yesterday I managed to pull off nearly enough hair with the curry comb to fill a small duvet! As the winter coat comes off, the dapples are now appearing and they are much more pronounced than last year when I first noticed them.
I was curious about the way these dapples have developed recently. There was little evidence of dappling on Matilde when I first bought her, as can be seen in the photos of Matilde at the birthday picnic in 2011. I found the following on an equine grooming blog and this suggests that it is a mixture of genetics and good diet:
I wanted to also do a bit more research about dapples, so I chatted with Dr. Clair from Summit Equine Nutrition. Dr. Clair is originally from England, and the first thing she mentions about dapples is that in the UK, they are called “hammer marks”, like you have hammered some tin or copper to make those eye catching circles. Then Dr. Clair gets down to business confirming that a healthy coat is necessary for dapples, and we get a healthy coat on our horses because of balanced trace minerals and omega 3 fatty acids.
Matilde is ten years old tomorrow and Rubí is six on Saturday, so – having reminded myself about the 2011 donkey birthday picnic – I think we will have a donkey birthday party this weekend.
The drought continues in the Alicante region and I took some photographs of the empty Amadorio reservoir earlier in the week, to show my Geography students the latest situation. The reservoir is at its lowest level for three decades.
Luckily, my vegetable garden has a good water supply and my annual labour of planting and watering is beginning to yield results. I ate my first lettuce from the garden yesterday and there are peppers, courgettes, cucumbers, aubergines, onions, grapes and beans on the way.
The main challenge, as always, is to keep the donkeys out of the vegetable plot. It is a while since we had a disaster, but there is always the risk that I will go down to the field one morning and find four confused donkeys standing among broken canes, entwined in bean netting. Hey ho, life here with donkeys is always an adventure.