? for experienced donkey owners, trainers, rescuers....

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by mominoz, May 15, 2016.

  1. mominoz

    mominoz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 17, 2009
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    First . I previously owned a large MIn. donkey who was gelded late, and had been abused prior and was a biter at first. But reasonably friendly and we got along well, and the biting stopped...Had him for 12 years.
    So I found a young donkey that needed at home, but not gelded yet. 18 mos. old still nursing mom. He had been haddeled at birth and the first few months, but them was out in pasture with other donkeys, and goats...(think they got too busy to do much with them, mostly for coyote control). I assumed he was non-abused, and used to people. Well he had to be cornered and wrestled onto our trailer. I had a corral with a stall attached ready. ( I have 2 Arabians in thier 20's, one is a mare).
    Well, Have had him since Feburary. I daily have gone into corral to feed and spend some time with him. We have made some progress, but it is incredibly slow. Finallly, he will follow me around, and eat oats on a bench, within 1 foot of me.. I click with my tongue and say 'good boy'. For a long time any movement made him bolt. I can move my hands a little, and he will follow me a couple feet away outside the fence or in the corral..... but I cannot reach out and touch him anywhere. He acts headshy, and was afraid of buckets in the beginning too.... me thinks he may have been tricked or not treated right by some of the family members... (he also was very forlorn calling for the first 2 weeks). He will bray when he sees me... He finally will take long grass from my outstreached hand if I am sitting outside the fence or sitting on the bench.
    I really need to get him halter broke (it is hanging on his bucket), and gelded. Anybody got any ideas, can't believe it is taking this long. My gut feeling is he is afraid ( he tucked his tail and scooted in the first 2 months a lot.) My hubby cornered him the first week or so and 'forced a touch'....but I think it set him back,and asked him not to corner him like that).... I always bring him something to eat ,every time I see him.(daily) but hate that he is in a 20 x 30 pen all the time). All the training videos, and websites, assume you can touch or halter your donkey already.... at this rate it will be months before I can get him haltered and gelded, shots etc.fly spray....
     
  2. Bunnylady

    Bunnylady POOF Goes the Pooka

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    If you have had a donkey for 12 years, you probably know this - they are very smart, and have memories that would put an elephant to shame. You have to be careful what you do with a donkey, because if the donkey finds it unpleasant, you will spend a very long time undoing the damage.

    Donkeys are very much herd animals; longtime donkey breeders tell me that "an only donk is a lonely donk." So yeah, your boy misses his herd. Can't be helped, I know, but it is part of the mental state you are dealing with.

    Donkeys are not horses; they see things very differently. People think they are stubborn, but they aren't, they just have an over-developed sense of self-preservation. A donkey sizes a situation up, and if he thinks it isn't safe, he just isn't going there. You can use force on a horse, but if you try it on a donkey, the situation rapidly becomes all about the struggle between you and the donkey, and the only thing he learns is that he can't trust you. To a donkey, being touched on the head is a threat; a donkey needs a certain amount of trust in you to allow that. They do not like to be patted, you should stroke or scratch, but not pat. Some people just can't resist pulling or twisting a donkey's ears for some stupid reason, so a lot of donkeys are over-protective of their ears as a result. Once a donkey learns to trust you, he may actually enjoy having his ears rubbed, but that's a long way down the road.

    I'm not clear on this - is this guy a mini? If so, your size may be a factor in him seeing you as a threat. This is very much like taming a wild animal. If there is the slightest hint of "I'm going to get you" in the way you approach him, he may see you as a threat. Believe it or not, just looking at him can be threatening - think "predator zeroing in on prey." Bribing a horse is always risky, but treats are a good starting point with a donkey. Just sitting quietly in his space reading or doing some other quiet activity can help him to accept you as a non-threat. Sitting is particularly good with the minis - it makes you smaller, and because you aren't towering over them, you are less threatening.

    If I were working with this guy, I would take a chair, or bench or whatever you use into his pen, put his food near it, sit down, and just be nearby while he eats - not interacting or even looking at him, just being there. Let him make the first move. When he approaches you, do not try to touch his face or even his neck, but go for the shoulders. Pet and scratch, don't pat. It's going to be slow, because his early experiences haven't been the most pleasant, but he's already gotten over some of it, if he's following you around.

    When you finally get to the haltering stage, DO NOT try to pull the halter over his ears. Unbuckle it, put it on his head, and buckle it without touching his ears if at all possible.

    That's all I can think of for right now, hope it helps.[​IMG]
     
  3. Chickerdoodle13

    Chickerdoodle13 The truth is out there...

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    Bunnylady had some great advice for you. Donkeys. Can definitely be tough buggers to work with! You will basically have to prove to him that he should trust you. Food, time, and patience will be your friend. I would move very slowly with him and be careful not to do anything that causes him to regress and distrust you. Once a donkey trusts a person, they will let that person do quite a bit with them.

    Sometimes castrating them can help, but it's definitely harder if you can't handle them to get them castrated in the first place!
     
  4. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    You are describing my youngest donkey to a tee, he's 18 years old, a big mamas boy, was casterated late and mom nursed him forever. He's always been more skiddish, I couldn't get near him after he was born to handle him because mom was so protective. He's always been terrified of us. I finally cornered him too a few years ago and forced pleasant touch onto him, it took a few times, but now he's friendly and comes up for a pat and likes his lips slapped, I don't know why he's been so skiddish, his mom and brother have always been friendly.

    We initially got his mom through the adopt a burro program. We initially tamed her and the Jack we got by cornering and restraint, than pleasant interactions. Sometimes with donkeys you just have to have them confront their fears or they stay locked up mentally. Donkeys are known for shutting down. I would get in there and let him know you mean no harm.

    Here's my big baby.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    I forgot to add that I did also do that horse whisper join up stuff with him. I went to fetch him and he did his usual running away and I had just watched a show on it, so I spent the next hour chasing him around the pasture and driving him in the direction of my choice. Eventually he lip licked and after a few attempts he allowed me to approach and touch him. I haltered him and he walked to the shed with me. So that helped with my breakthrough with him. Now he's like a regular donkey who stands in the way. I let him act like that for about 12 years.
     
  6. Bunnylady

    Bunnylady POOF Goes the Pooka

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    I have a mini mule that was 9 years old when I got her, hand-shy, man-shy, the devil itself to catch or do anything with. Her previous owner had been told she could be ridden or driven - either the person saying that was speaking hypothetically, or they were outright lying. She had no training for either. She was halter-broke, sorta, wellllll . . . . . come to think of it, she pulled like a freight train and sometimes fought like a demon, so maybe it's more like she was small enough that you could steer her in the general direction you wanted to go most of the time. I'm opposed to leaving halters on as a general thing, but I left one on her for the first several months because I simply couldn't have caught her without it. I learned that she would sell her soul for a carrot, but even armed with a pocketful of carrot coins, I had to "walk her down" any time I wanted to work with her. I joke that her name for me is "carrots."[​IMG] Undoing the damage took a while, and there are some things that I think she will never totally get over (the ear thing, for example) but she does things for me that her previous owner would not have believed possible.
     
  7. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    Donkeys and mules are a different sort of animal aren't they? They should never be compared to horse, I think they are more similar to dogs. They sure seem to think more than most horses, but appear and act like they haven't a clue what you are talking about. Donkeys and mules require a smart owner, you can't bully them into doing what you want like you can with a horse, whip a donkey and he will never move, ask him kindly and offer those carrots and he will never leave your side.
     

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