The opinions expressed in previous entries may or may not express the current opinion of the author.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Donkeys Rule

The Donkey stallion has been in his current home for a month and in his previous home for a month. Before that he had been at a place where they assured the next owner (who found him on Craig's List) that he "stood" for the farrier.

Um, question ..... how can a donkey who is not even halter-trained "stand" for the farrier? I think probably he was tied up tight and sat upon. That, in my opinion, does not count as "standing."

Anyway, he did not, in fact, do anything which could remotely be described as "standing." When the owner first got his halter and rope on, he did a fair amount of kicking, and then when tied to the fence, he kept pulling back as hard as he could.

We plied him with treats and he settled down a little, but there was no way I was going to be able to get  near his feet. Which were very long.

Finally, I untied his rope from the fence and took him for walkies in the paddock. Good thing I was holding tight, because he launched himself against the rope in an attempt to get away. I braced myself and held on, and so he had to at least stick around.

Obviously I couldn't lead him anywhere, so I tried walking in circles. Like, I'd gesture to the left, and say, "Let's go this way," and walk to the left, and perforce he'd have to turn after me.

He started to get a little focused on me. And then he had a bright idea. He could get me to walk in circles. He found that if he walked in a circle, I would follow him. Then he'd change it up a little and turn to face me. "Very good, human! You're turning to face me too!" Then he'd circle again.

Finally, after he thought I'd got the hang of it, he decided to lead me back to the shed. He walked at a nice, easy pace and kept turning to look at me to make sure I was following him.

And then fate intervened, and the knot which attached the rope to the clip at his halter came unravelled.

He was in a good mood by this time and climbed onto a dirt mound, looking cheerful, and came over to say hello to us, before wandering off with his goat friends.

I told the owner it was totally not worth pushing the matter. He could just pay me for my gas, and call it quits for the day. Donkey has probably had some extremely unpleasant experiences with farriers, and although his feet are long, they're chipping and curling out of the way, and he's walking fine. Fighting now will make everything harder later.

I told the owner to work with Donkey in the meantime - don't try to "train" him, but let himself be trained by Donkey, who is obviously smarter than us. Just make one "rule" - that Donkey can't leave - you're having a conversation and are attached together via halter and rope, and those are the parameters of the situation. I talked about the differences between horses and donkeys, explained about respecting the no, and said that if he listened, Donkey would communicate with him. He's a  nice owner, and he has a wife whom Donkey likes, plus a 5-year old boy - and Donkey loves kids.

I also asked the owner if he read the Bible (everyone round here does) - cos there are only two animals in the Bible who talk - the Snake, who gives bad advice, and the Donkey who gives excellent advice. So listen to the Donkey.


  1. Interesting! I have never had close experience of donkeys and I'm sure they must be quite different to horses. I suppose if he moves around enough his feet may start to self trim?

  2. I don't think he'll self-trim enough - hopefully the owner will start to get him more amenable to having his feet handled, or handled at all! I'm about to do a post about two other donkeys with different reactions ....