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 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.
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.