Secrets of an Equine Master Chef



These days it is very fashionable to begin any discourse with “So…”  It is a word inserted to gain a split second of thinking time, and then you know all that follows has not really been thought through properly. And so this hasn’t.

So, Aitana has been precribed Biotin and vitamin supplement which I bought in the commercial form of Equin Tonic, a foul-tasting foul-smelling product which would only be happily eaten by a donkey if it had been trapped in a five month dust storm in Tierra del Fuego and every single piece of vegetation had been blown into the Southern Ocean.  Yes, Equin Tonic would only be freely eaten if it was the sole available means of sustenance.

Unfortunately, we have been unable to replicate such conditions in the Costa Blanca, so I am having to try various strategies to get Aitana to ingest the awful product.  Congratulations to Chemica Iberica for designing an extremely over-priced product which is entirely inedible.


Put the Equin Tonic in a cake and bake it?  Latest strategy.

Recipe: 200mg Equin Tonic, 150mg wholemeal flour, 1 tsp yeast, no salt, no sugar, 12 fluid ounces of warm water.  Kneed the mix.  Let rise and bake for 35 minutes (Gas mark 8).  Feed to donkey when cool and when donkey unsuspecting…


This took the best part of the afterenoon. Obviously, I’m not going to do this every day, particularly as I am back to work very shortly after an entirely unrestful holiday.  But I thought I would give it a try, because after three days of trying to get the medication into the donkey (and having spent a hundred Euros on the medication), I was keen to at least make some progress!  And she needs the vitamins.

This was clearly a roaring success, as you can see: at least 3% of the Equin Tonic cake is in the donkey and only 97% is on the floor.

The vet suggested a larger syringe and then liquify the product, syringing it into her mouth.  I’ll go in search of a large syringe tomorrow.  Other suggestions welcome in case that doesn’t work:  this animal needs the vitamin supplement urgently and we are losing a lot of time messing about trying to find a solution.

The alternative will be to abandon the oral Equin Tonic and go in search of a product to inject directly.  Last resort.  My past experience with Matilde shows me that administering a daily injection entirely ruins your relationship with the animal.



7 thoughts on “Secrets of an Equine Master Chef

  1. When I have to give a nasty tasting pill to a cat, I roll it inside a small nut of butter (not marge or any sort of substitute butter) then harden it in the fridge for a short time if it has melted much in the handling. Then, opening the cats jaws and putting it on the back of the tongue, the butter encrusted pill slides down quickly before the cat can manage to spit it out.

    My dog is a fussy eater. She will leave her food ignored on her dish unless the cat makes a move towards it – then she wolfs it down on an instant.

    I hope that you are successful in getting Aitana to take her medicine through the syringe. There might be something which farmers use to dose cattle with either.

    Thanks for keeping us updated.


  2. Thanks for that suggestion, and also thanks to Jim in USA who sent an email with details of a tastier vitamin product. (That turns out not to be available here.)

    The main problem with the present vitamin supplement is the sheer bulk of it: a 100gm portion is more than a mouthful, and it is designed to be mixed in with cereal feed. The present plan is to try a larger syringe and liquidize the stuff in warm water.

    That is now working with the Biotin, but that’s only a spoonful, which liquidizes into two syringe loads. The more times a syringe has to be inserted, the tighter her jaws become in resistance, and this prolongs the battle and adds to the stress on her. Going to pharmacy to see what is the biggest syringe size I can buy.


  3. 100gm is almost a tea cup size, so it’s a lot to get her to take at once. Perhaps 50gm morning and evening would work.

    Silage smells horrid but cattle love it. Aitana is funny about carrots but the other donks love them. How is she with apples? Could you hide the stuff in an apple, maybe?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Today was a non-carrot day for Aitana, and when I took the donkeys an apple cut into slices after they had been bored in the stable during a rainstorm, Aitana also refused apple. (And that’s without medication.) This is the fussiest donkey in the world!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I did at one time lay awakw at three in the morning wondering if I could use my largest masonry drill to hollow out a carrot. Then I realised this obsession was ruining the last days of my summer holiday…


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