Rood norty donkey Matilde is confined to stable

Matide isolated in the stable by three magic strands of electric wire

Matide isolated in the stable by four strands of electric wire

Today we had the most dangerous incident in five years of donkey walking.  There was some cloud cover this morning, so it looked like a good opportunity to get donkeys out walking. I wanted to explore a new route for them: a four kilometre forest path circuit I had discovered on my mountain bike a couple of weeks ago.

I decided to take Matilde and Rubí and get some photos of them in their new birthday head-collars but sadly there was only time for one photograph.  We were only twenty minutes into the walk when Matilde started going out of control and jumping on Rubí. This has happened before when Rubí was in season, and I have always taken care since to avoid walking them when either of them are in season! As Matilde became increasingly difficult to control (at one point she floored me with a head butt), I turned them round with the intention of getting them home as quickly as possible.

Then a very frightening incident happened. Matilde pulled the lead rope out of my hand, rearing up and flooring Rubí from the side. She put her fullweight on Rubí and the poor donkey went down heavily onto the rough uphill rocky track we were walking on.  Matilde sat down on Rubí with her full weight and I had to beat her with the lead rope to get her on her feet and take the weight off Rubí.

Rubí on the floor after I managed to get Matilde off her

Rubí on the floor after I managed to get Matilde off her

Rubí would not get up and as much as I encouraged her, she stayed down on the ground. There followed a very frightening few minutes as I tried to explore Rubi’s hind legs to see what damage may have been done, while also trying to hold onto an increasingly uncooperative Matilde.  I managed to roll Rubí onto her side and see the right hind leg which was hidden. There was some blood on the leg from a flesh wound as she went down on the stones under Matilde, but I had no idea whether the leg was sound. I was already looking up the emergency number of the vet and identifying my GPS position, when Rubí struggled to her feet.  It was a very worrying moment seeing if she could stand firmly or whether there was a break.  She slowly limped forward.  Thank God!

There followed another kilometre of battles with Matilde who was still trying to jump on Rubí. When I was in sight of home, I manouevred Matilde to a tree (with difficulty, as this intelligent beast realised I was going to tie her to it and fought to stop me getting her close to the tree!  Finally, I got Matilde tied to the tree with two lead ropes (not taking any chances!) and I even wondered whether she might uproot the tree, as it was a dead almond.

Once I had taken Rubí home, I grabbed a carriage whip from the house, to control Matilde,* and returned to fetch her. She had indeed broken the upper part of the tree, but was still firmly held by the other lead rope around the lower trunk.  The walk home was difficult enough, but nextdoor’s dog was also on the loose, just to add further to the theatre, so I had to shout at my neighbour to get his dog out of the road.

DSCN2965 DSCN2966 DSCN2967DSCN2972

Matilde in disgrace, confined to the stable.  Rubí limping around the field (I have now massaged her leg.)  And I’m confined to the Bar Cantonet in Finestrat with a computer and a beer.  Sometimes a simple life in the country with donkeys, just isn’t.

*Following a rather abusive comment from an angry person on this blog, which entirely missed the point of this, a carriage whip can be used to gently guide a misbehaving equine, just by holding it against them as you walk to show who is in charge.  The rather excited comment from this person about “cruelty” displayed a poor understanding of how equines are controlled and a rather silly ignorance of the true love of animals which requires proper control for their own safety as well as yours.  Your unacceptable abuse of me (you know who you are) means you will not be commenting on this blog again.


About Gareth Thomas

After a mixed career as an aircraft technician, London fringe theatre playwright, Franciscan friar, and secondary school teacher, I find myself looking after the needs of four donkeys in a remote location in the mountains in the Costa Blanca. I like to listen to BBC Radio 4 and the wind in the pine trees. I am writing a comedy about a school in Benidorm. My favourite film of all time is "Jean de Florette". If I had my time again I would not have spent the early 1970s working for Special Branch.
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7 Responses to Rood norty donkey Matilde is confined to stable

  1. What a scary situation, I hope poor Rubi is OK. Some donkeys do have very strong heat cycles that are hard on everyone. My Emma had a lot of trouble after Ramsey was born. Something that worked absolute wonders for her was putting her chaste tree berry powder. If you can find it where you are, I would suggest you try it for Matilde. It works by moderating hormonal responses so you don’t get the big swings that cause these kinds of incidents. It is very safe and can be given to both mares and geldings. Feeding 2-3 tablespoons per day might help eliminate this behavior. It has worked very well on all the animals I have tried it on.

    I can get you a link to where to find it here in the US, but you would probably be better off finding it locally if you can. It is quite cheap and easy to get here, but I don’t know anything about your part of the world.

    Good luck.

  2. Catherine Geldart says:

    Blinking heck!

  3. Frere Rabit says:

    That’s a really helpful comment, thank you! I will try searching for the Spanish name of the product, or search the internet. By the way, your hoof care post is brilliant! Recommended to all. I may blog the link on a separate post later. Mine are coming up to the date for their next farrier visit. (He visits us.) I am particularly concerned about the behaviour issues after yesterday, as the farrier had a struggle with Matilde and Rubí last time!

  4. Mary says:

    I feel bad for both of them! And you.

  5. scarygoat61 says:

    Oh no! Twerp donks. What about having them neutered? Is that possible? It might help?

  6. orthodoxgirl99 says:

    Not sure if you have located the Agnus Castus or Chaste Tree extract yet? If not, you can obtain it via Ainsworth Homoeopathic Pharmacy in London. They ship all over the world. Would probably be in a liquid form or Mother Tincture which you would need to dilute into her water bucket. Some contact details for you:

    Pharmacy/Shop/Consulting Rooms
    (Open Mon to Fri: 9am to 6pm; Sat: 9am to 4pm)
    36 New Cavendish Street, London W1G 8UF
    T: +44 (0)20 7935 5330 F: +44 (0)20 7486 4313

    Website Enquiries & Support

    It’s worth getting in touch with them. I know Ainsworths well and their remedies are excellent. I am a retired homoeopath and used to work for them some years back when I was training in London and later as a consultant homoepath before they opened their Treatment Centre.
    Hope it all works out for you and the donks.

  7. Frere Rabit says:

    Maria Gabriella,

    Fantastic helpful information! Thank you. I have a week’s holiday next week between the end of secondary school and the start of the summer school, so I shall put this on my “To Do” list for immediate action!

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