(The Sultan donkeys – left is Jenny and on the right is Gina. Photo: Jessica Sultan)
It was all set for July 4 at 9:00 am – Jenny and Gina would get the trim that would change their lives. But first, a little history about these two cute donkeys. In 2018, a facebook post caught the attention of the Sultans — 28 donkeys were going to slaughter. A Kingston woman had put out a plea asking for donations to save the donkeys and find permanent homes. Although the price tag of $400 each was out of the Sultan’s budget, they offered to provide a home for at least two of the donkeys. At this point, another Kingston woman kindly came forth with the funds so that Jenny and Gina could be saved. They were kept at the farm of the original owner until Omar Sultan could travel to Kingston to pick-up the girls.
From the moment the donkeys arrived at the Sultan’s farm, it was obvious they had been neglected and most likely abused. Their hooves had probably not ever been trimmed and they both were highly skittish — bolting off with any sudden movements by humans. Jenny came wearing a halter, but not Gina. It has been eight months and Gina has still not allowed anyone close enough to allow a halter to be donned. Jenny on the other hand, now allows human contact and is not as nervous as upon arrival at the farm.
The event to change the lives of these two donkeys was brought about with the kindness of a local farrier, Tommy, who wishes his last name not be used, but volunteered his much valued services; and the HolliBell Foundation who provided the veterinarian funding for a health checkup and sedation to have the hooves trimmed on both Jenny and Gina. Stittsville Central (SC) was also involved with this wonderful occasion — with contacts at HolliBell, SC went back and forth with emails explaining the situation and to assist in obtaining the much-needed funding, but it was finally connecting Jessica Sultan with the Foundation that solidified their heartfelt donation.
Donkeys are not only powerful four-legged animals, but are also intelligent (much to the surprise of many) and stubborn. Hence, a handful to raise and difficult for anyone to get to know their idiosyncrasies.
Now to the big day! It was a restless night for the family as they knew what was forthcoming and the possible problems that could arise.
The vets and the farrier rolled in just prior to 9:00 am and began setting up for the procedure. Jessica said, “The farrier had an enormous trailer full of all kinds of tools, some of which were unrecognizable to me. The vets arrived in a truck, with a very cute hot pink veterinary kit in hand. It was handmade of wood with images of horseshoes scorched into the side. The vet told me her boyfriend had made it for her”.
Penning the donkeys for the vet’s examination prior to needed sedation, proved to be difficult. Jenny and Gina were nervous, especially with strangers on the scene. They both bolted for the back field. With some food, Omar was able to bribe Jenny to return, but once eaten, she bolted again. Omar went into the field to calm her and clip on a lead — after 30 minutes of much calming and chasing, finally, an apple did the trick and the lead was clipped to her halter. However, she started to run, with Omar, a large and strong man, being pulled along at a galloping pace to steer her through the field and back to the pen. The vets were ready for the arrival, with their arms outstretched they corralled Jenny and quickly put a gate in place to block her. She showed her power — it took Omar, the farrier and two vets to hold the gate in place as Jenny kept pushing to find an escape.
Jenny’s heart was checked by the vet to ensure it was strong enough to receive sedation. A normal dose was administered — no calming effect on Jenny. Then another half-dose was given. Jessica said “although still not ‘sedated’ by my definition of the word, Jenny did allow the farrier to approach”. She periodically tried to move away but was calm enough that she could be held with the gate.
(Here is the team at work on Jenny. Photo: Jessica Sultan)
It’s 10 am by this time and the sun is brutally beating down. With sweat pouring down his face, the farrier started to trim Jenny’s hooves. It took an enormous pair of scissors and literally a saw to trim her front feet. A good six inches was removed. Jessica, who dealt with all of this having a broken foot, just couldn’t take a photo for our article of Jenny’s pre-trimmed hooves as she lamented “they honestly were so long it broke my heart. I could not bear to look at them in real life, let alone in a lasting photo”. “I know that sounds unbelievable, but the change now is remarkable and life-altering for Jenny”.
(Some of the clippings from Jenny’s hooves. The photo doesn’t really do justice, but there were some large bits cut off. Photo: Jessica Sultan)
Even with the sedation, there were a few more hiccups, when Jenny reared twice and tried to pin the farrier to the wall. But he got it done!
After the procedure, it was expected that Jenny would ‘sleep like a log’ when everyone left because of the amount of sedation she received. That didn’t happen — she paced her stall for two hours before dropping off. She had to remain in the stall and was not allowed to drink nor eat due to the sedation.
(Jenny proudly displaying one of her trimmed hooves. Photo: Jessica Sultan)
Gina, on the other hand, was not able to be caught — despite an hour of attempting to do so. She knocked Omar over, and the vets too — more than once — finally jumping the back fence. Jessica sniggered, “I’m pretty sure I saw her laughing to herself as she eyed us from afar”.
“I was very upset at not being able to do Gina’s feet, as so much effort had gone into this day and it makes me very sad to see the girls with long hooves. I’m trying to focus on the wonderful good that was done for Jenny, and to plan our strategy to try to do Gina’s feet again in coming weeks” Jessica went on to tell us.
Jessica stated, “I now have a great understanding of the meaning of the phrase ‘stubborn as a mule’!”.
We now await the day when Gina can successfully have her hooves trimmed and she, too, can enjoy a comfortable gait. We’ll keep you posted when this happens.
Editor’s Note: The Sultan family are doing everything in their power to help the animals on their sanctuary farmland. If you would like to assist them in achieving this, please consider making a donation. Visit their web site to find out more www.sultanfarmsanctuary.com.