Oh, guys. I hate this. I mentioned last week that Doc is showing signs of founder– probably from overindulging on spring grass–so I’ve restricted the donkeys to a very small part of the pasture, and I also bought these…



So my little dudes can still stretch their legs in the larger pasture without STUFFING THEIR FACES every minute of the day. We tried them out as soon as they arrived, and, in typical donkey fashion, they both immediately set to solving the problem of the muzzle in different ways…


Parker went right for my heartstrings..


He basically wouldn’t leave my side for an hour, and kept giving me sad-eyes, which almost worked BECAUSE LOOK AT THAT FACE.

Doc, my problem-solver/master-fence-escaper tried a number of different tactics, like dragging his face across the concrete…


Rubbing his head on this old barn foundation…


Throwing a tantrum rivaling any toddler I’ve ever met…


And coercing Parker into teamwork…


None of these things worked while I was out monitoring them, but after I left them to their own devices and then came back an hour later…


Seriously Doc?



I adjusted the straps so he can’t get the muzzle off anymore (and don’t worry, they have breakaway buckles) but, if I let them out with the muzzles for more than an hour or two, they start to get raw spots on the tops of their noses…


I swear, if it’s not one thing, it’s another. And this shit hurts my heart a little…

My best dudes. Hoof-cleaning used to be a stressful part of our routine, but we're rockin' it now. (i.e. I'm still getting love, instead of getting kicked in the face...)

They’re being awesome as far as daily hoof-pickings go, though. (And by “awesome” I mean they hate the shit out of it, but also don’t try to kick me in the face.) So now I’m working on modifying the muzzles and finding other ways to let them out in the pasture without overfeeding.

Life on the farm is never boring, that’s for sure.

24 Responses

  1. I have had to deal with the threat of foundering donkeys for several years now. I also use muzzles very much like yours sometimes. And no they don’t like them but at least you don’t have to worry about them. Once they get used to them and stop trying to pry them off the raw spots quit happening. He muzzles also get softer and worn with time. I also had to cut the eating whole a little larger because they weren’t able to get enough food with the original hole.

    This year I have mostly used the alternate method of two days on pasture and two days corralled in small area I mowed first. And then feeding them hay. At the end of day two they are out there screaming at me as we speak to be set free. It also gives me more of a chance to interact and visit with them more because they tend to stay out in the far pasture when on their own. I should be able to stop worrying about this soon as things are drying out pretty fast now and it ceases to be a problem.

    Life on the farm… Out to move he irrigation and set them free!

  2. Poor donkeys and poor you. Maybe once they are more used to them and not trying to rub them off they won’t get raw spots anymore? Can you add a fleecy piece to the underside of the strap – like those things they make to go over the shoulder belt in cars so the seat belt doesn’t rub against your neck?

  3. Rub a little bacon grease on the raw spots. It will keep them from getting infected and will help the hair grow back. Had an equine vet teach me that one. Give them lots of hugs and kisses. Sometimes doing the right thing hurts us more than it hurts them.

  4. That last pic of you with the boys hurts my heart a little too. I wish I had some great advice to give you, but I can only send my prayers and best wishes! They will be okay, and you will get through it. This is how I felt when my oldest daughter got her braces. I cried with her, felt her pain and damn near took them off, but it’s a growth experience. You have to go through a bit of pain for reward.

  5. Doc n Parker are the cutest little huggable guys for sure making it I’m sure somewhat harder to do what’s needed. I have no experience or foundering tips ( no pun intended ) but I know they’ll get what’s good for them…which includes hugs

  6. One of your regular readers sent me over here, knowing I had a similar rubbing-muzzle problem with my donkeys. I purchased the sheepskin liners from Best Friend Equine Supply, but you could probably d-i-y something similar – they’re sheepskin pads with velcro straps that fasten through the square holes on the muzzle. I’ll paste a few links here that show the liners in action.

    1. This is so awesome/helpful! Thank you so much! (I was considering cutting up a fleece blanket, but this a way better idea.)

      1. The sheepskin really is key, I think – fluffy enough to be effective and naturally cooling. If you need a close-up of one of them removed from the muzzle, just holler.

    2. Beat me to the punch. I’ve seen many horses with the sheepskin pads wrapped around the nose bands on their halters. Sheepskin is always great for stopping raw spots caused by rubbing.

  7. Raising donkeys … rearing children … either way too many times doing the best thing for them stinks and they turn on the Sad Eye or the Evil Eye or the I Will Pay You Back Eye … it’s all good!

    Burst out laughing at the temper tantrum!

  8. Another longtime reader with horses here. Is there any way you can mow their pasture so they have less grass and potential to founder? In barns that I have worked at where horses are at risk of foundering, we would keep them on short or no grass, reducing the need for a muzzle. If they were on short grass, they only had to wear a muzzle part-time. It’s worth considering if seeing them muzzled is pulling at your heartstrings!

  9. Out here, there grows no grass for the horses to eat. All grass and feed must be purchased. Odd that we have the opposite problem. I wish it were easier to share.

  10. As a horse owner that has dealt with muzzles for a long time, tips I’ve learned:

    Sheepskin gets dirty and collects weeds, which in turn rubs the skin. Try a bit of polar fleece.
    I cover all the pieces of the headstall, and line the top of the basket.

    Buy a muzzle one size larger than you think you’ll need. You can make modifications to the headstall, but getting a large enough “basket” will help prevent rubs.

    I see you are using the Best Friends muzzle. I used these for years, and frankly, the horses hated them. You’d hear them wheezing. Now I use the EZ Breathe ones made by Tough-1. There are holes cut out over the nostrils, they are lighter in weight, and the horses don’t seem to mind them at all.

    You have the distinct advantage that your donkeys can’t rub the muzzles off over their ears while rolling, an art my mares have perfected .
    don’t give up on the muzzles. It really is safer than grazing….short, overgrazed grass contains more concentrated sugars/fructans than tall lush grass. It’s a dilemma. But worth the effort!

  11. Poor babies. It looks like you’re getting plenty of advice, which is good, because I got nothing. I just wanted to tell you to keep your chin up and have faith you’re doing what they need. Even if they are giving you pathetic eyes.

  12. I’m in the UK and I have the same battle against the rich grass! I have found it useful to diet my susceptible horses and ponies at the end of the winter, before the spring grass flushes. During the spring season, I keep them in very small paddocks on the poorest part of the pasture and if necessary stand them inside for half the time with long soaked hay, to lessen exposure to the sugar. Unfortunately even with these precautions I have one naughty pony who escaped into the ‘big’ field and is now very lame and having to stay in 24/7, I’m hoping she pulls through.

  13. When we used to have horses & mini donkeys, we would need to muzzle for some of them. Ditto what earlier commentator said that the raw spots stop (but sometimes they don’t get the hair back there.) Our guys would eat the hole in the bottom to make it bigger (really, eat? this seems unappealing.. maybe wear? somehow rub??) We also took to mowing the horse fields (because mowing doesn’t run your life already!). Other option was to cut the size of fields down….

    none of these are winning ideas.

  14. The same reader who sent the7msn also sent me over….I control my donkeys grass intake with a track system, also called paddock paradise. I find that it works much better than muzzles and is a lot safer. All you need is a bit of portable electric fence. I can’t send links from this computer, but you can search my blog for how-to posts. Just look for paddock paradise and track grazing.

    Also, balancing your donkey’s mineral intake can help with the feet along with trimming the walls back a bit to alleviate pressure on the lamina. I can help with that if you would like.

    Donkeys and grass, such a problem.

    1. Many thanks! I’m not sure which of my amazing readers has sent you over here, but I am eternally grateful. I’ve been reading through your archives for the last hour and learning so much… Also, this is EXACTLY what I’ve been thinking about– if I can fence in a track so they can still move and run but have limited access to grass. (I’m actually thinking about putting goats in the middle, but I might need to stick to just getting the donkey situation straightened out first.) My guys know what the “white rope” means, so I don’t even really have to hook it up to a charger and the’re pretty good about keeping in.

      Again, this has given me a ton of good info, thank you for stopping by to help!

      1. OK, I plead guilty to not resisting the urge to introduce the donkey-whispering and power-tool-wielding authors of my Three Favorite, Most Addictive Blogs Ever to each other. I’m altruistic that way. No, actually I just can’t bear to suffer right along with y’all when your donkeys give you the dramatic sad-eye…
        Mission accomplished – I’m happy!
        signed: Donkey-less 🙁 in a City 🙁

  15. the concept that was very hard for me to get straight was that the paddock with “barely-there” eaten down grass shoots is actually much more dangerous than the thick, foot tall grass. When grass is stressed, it produces more fructan to re-grow itself. Overgrazed grass is stressed. Owners will look out at the grazed down paddock and wonder how on earth did my animal ever founder on THAT?

    combined with the fact that equines love to grass on those new, fresh shoots (just because they have more sugar and taste better), means they keep grazing those spots over and over, instead of moving on out to the taller grass. While Paddock Paradise’s are excellent for exercise and movement, they don’t address this issue.

    To help understand more about how grasses grow and how that affects the equines that eat them, try visiting

    Good luck with these guys. They are adorable.

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