1 It's bath time for my donkeys, Rufus, Billie and Clive. It's been so cold here in the northeast, their baths were delayed until temperatures got a little warmer. Here, Dolma is leading them into the stable.
2 Donkeys are herd animals, so they don't like being separated from other members of their pack. If possible, always keep donkeys together. On this day, as each one is bathed, the other two watch from nearby.
3 Donkeys are very friendly, social animals, and have a very keen sense of curiosity, as shown by Clive's forward ear carriage in this photo.
4 Before each of the donkeys is washed, Dolma gently goes over them with the Electro-Groom - a specially designed livestock quick groom vacuum. It removes dirt, loose hairs and leaves the donkey's natural oils behind.
5 My donkeys are very familiar with their bathing routine, but in general, donkeys are not easily startled, so they don't mind the vacuum at all.
6 The Electro-groom is very strong, and can loosen up even old, hardened mud in their coats. However, it also has a softer setting for more sensitive areas such as the legs.
7 Using a hoof pick, the next step is to remove any debris from the donkeys' hooves. Here, Dolma holds a hoof securely in one hand, while she carefully scrapes mud and stones out of the hoof's crevices with the other.
8 While cleaning the hooves, it's a good time to make sure they are all in good condition. Donkey hooves support the entire weight of their bodies, and need to be properly maintained. Hooves should be trimmed by a professional farrier every six to eight weeks.
9 While Dolma prepares the bath supplies, the donkeys are secured to a gate near the shower stall. All three donkeys are very well-behaved, and very patient.
10 Rufus was the first to get bathed, but guess who's next?
11 It's Billie's turn. On this day, the temperatures were warmer, but the shower stall is equipped with heaters suspended from the ceiling if needed. Here, Dolma starts by wetting Billie's coat thoroughly with warm water.
12 Donkeys grow very thick winter coats. It is important to get the entire coat wet so it can be cleaned properly.
13 Donkeys are calm, intelligent, and have a natural inclination to like people. Billie seems quite content with his "spa" session.
14 Using a washing mitt specifically designed for equine coats, Dolma scrubs the shampoo into Billie's coat until it lathers. The washing mitt also helps to loosen dirt and debris that wasn't picked up by the Electro-Groom.
15 The donkeys are washed with a a tea-tree oil based shampoo. It's derived from plant materials with no sulfates and contains tea tree oil, peppermint oil and aloe vera.
16 After Billie is lathered up, Dolma waits a few minutes to allow the shampoo to soak into the coat.
17 Dolma makes sure to clean Billie's entire body, including the rump and underneath the tail. The shampoo is very gentle and soothing to the skin.
18 Meanwhile, squeaky clean Rufus dries, as he and Clive look on. Donkeys are happiest when they are with their friends.
19 Dolma uses warm water to rinse all the shampoo off Billie. The boom sprayer she is using, hangs from the ceiling of the shower stall - it's very flexible and can swivel around very easily.
20 While Billie is still wet, Dolma carefully goes over Billie's coat with a metal curry comb. This helps pull dirt and dead hairs out of the coat too. The short teeth help to loosen dirt, and stimulate the skin to produce natural oils.
21 A donkey's coat is so thick, it can sometimes be hard to get through it. Using a curry comb when the coat is still wet makes this task much easier.
22 Once Dolma is done combing through Billie's coat, she rinses it again to be sure Billie is thoroughly clean and soap free.
23 Rufus and Clive haven't taken their eyes off their friend... but yes, Clive, you're next.
24 It's also important to rinse the belly and the lower extremities.
25 The donkeys are left to dry naturally, each wearing a towel on their backs to prevent them from getting chills. Do you notice which donkey is now drying, and which donkey was led away to the shower stall?
26 Clive is standing in the shower stall. As you can see, the lower walls are padded for the equines' safety. The faucets are housed in the cabinet on the right to keep them out of the way.
27 Clive had the same bath routine as Rufus and Billie. After he was done, Dolma placed a towel on his back, so he could join his friends to dry.
28 Clive looks and smells very clean. As warmer weather sets in, the donkeys will be washed as much as once a week.
29 What's the best treat for a donkey after a good, thorough bath? A good roll, of course...