Well, we’re fresh into winter and so naturally I am dressing a little warmer these days. As I put on my favorite Buffalo Plaid mini donk hoodie and some warm shoes, I couldn’t help but notice that my favorite minidonk, Lovebug, has grown her winter coat to keep warm too.
However, a curious question crosses my mind. Does Lovebug wear shoes? I mean in my head I would imagine since she has hooves like a horse and kinda sorta resembles a horse, then naturally she would need shoes like a horse, right? I can just hear it now (and it sounds awesome in my head), the click clack of those tiny little shod (shod means shoe-d) hooves as Lovebug trots down the road to say hi.
The quick, easy, down to the nitty-gritty answer is no, your miniature donkey does not need shoes. It is a common question to those new to miniature donkeys and donkeys in general.
There are several reasons that various members of the equine family need to be shod. Horses that are ridden frequently are the primary example of equines that need shoes.
According to Science Focus…
“Anecdotally, it’s often said that donkeys possess tougher hooves, probably because their wild ancestor (the African Wild Ass) evolved in arid, often mountainous habitats. Although published studies don’t reveal anything showing donkey hooves are harder, computer analysis suggests that walking causes less internal foot stress in donkeys than horses. Even so, unnatural domestic environments and diets can still weaken donkey hooves. So some donkeys (standards/mammoths) enduring extended strenuous rides over hard surfaces may require shoes too.”
I think it is pretty common knowledge that horses need to be shod, but would a mini donkey need to be shod like a horse?
Since miniature donkeys aren't really ridden, it isn't necessary to put metal shoes on them. There are, however, ‘shoes’ that a mini donkey could wear for various reasons.
There are very few reasons, actually. As we proposed earlier, the primary reason to put shoes on any hooved animal is directly related to if they are ridden, if they are packed heavily, or if they are regularly traversing rocky and coarse terrain. Horses are obviously ridden quite often, so they in turn, need to be shod and maintained regularly. There are some types of donkey that are ridden (Mammoth) and packed regularly, so shoeing them can be necessary.
Equines are shod to prevent their hooves from wearing down. You see, equine hooves are like fingernails on people, they grow and need to be trimmed much like fingernails. They can also get worn down from continual wear and tear. This is where the need for shoes comes in.
Metal shoes add strength and durability to a hoof so that it won't wear down, split, or crack thus causing pain and a litany of other issues for your loved equine. Are there equine shoes other than metal though?
I would really hope that there aren’t any reasons that your beloved mini would need to be shod with a traditional metal shoe (I've never seen a metal shoe that small), but there might be reasons to try some other alternatives.
The typical horse shoe is indeed made of metal. Some are steel and some are aluminum. They are shod depending on the purpose. Now seeing as how your mini donk is hopefully not being ridden by anyone other than a small child and hopefully that is done on arena floor or pasture terrain, it shouldn’t need metal shoes of any sort.
There are however some pretty neat metal alternatives that your mini donk might benefit from. The folks over at EasyCare Inc. have developed a line of boots that wrap around the hoof that might help your mini donk in various types of environment. These would be useful especially if your favorite mini donk lives in a primarily wet environment. The wetter the environment, the more susceptible your mini donk is to various hoof ailments. We have the ones made by Cavallo and love them for driving on rocky backroads. Cavallo Equine Cute Little Hoof Boots.
Your mini should not wear the boots longer than 24 hours at a time and only when they need foot protection or traction.
Now, if you are in the hunt for some hoof decor? Check out these Decorative Miniature Bell Boots to add some pizzazz to your mini donks little hooves. Do your mini donks need these? No, but do they seriously need these? YES! (They offer no protection but are super cute for events 😁)
I hope this thread doesn’t find you saying, “If the shoe fits, wear it,” because that is rarely going to be the case with your mini donk. If you find yourself wanting to shod your mini donk, make sure there is a good reason. If you are unsure, check with a farrier.
For more info on miniature donkeys or if you are in the market for fun miniature donkey merch click here and happy browsing!
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