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Update to Forum Rules: Criminal Allegations

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Driving with donkeys?

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  • Driving with donkeys?

    Does anyone here do this? I have a training cart that I used with my OTT Standardbred many years ago. I have 2 standard size donkeys and thought it might be fun to teach one or both to drive. Not sure where to start, however.

  • #2
    The same place you start with a horse, but their motivations and reactions are slightly different and it is imperative you work with them.

    Do you have experience teaching other equines to drive?


    • #3
      Agree wit CERT an experienced trainer is going to be your best resource - especially if you can find one experienced working with donkeys or mules.
      My mule-owning friends tell me they are different to train than horses & that Negotiation comes into play a lot more.

      That said, FWIW there was a lovely mule in the ADS Pleasure Driving show I went to last year.
      *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
      Steppin' Out 1988-2004
      Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
      Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


      • #4
        Yes, different than horses. Quite often, horse trainers don't do well with donkeys or mules if they can't change their techniques. They're brighter, hate repetition when they feel they know what we want. Some donkeys like not going in blinkers and seeing what's going on around them.

        Take a look at Meridith Hodges "Lucky 3 Ranch" https://www.luckythreeranchstore.com/search?q=driving

        She's great with mules/donkeys and is very common sense..not a Parelli or Nat'l Horsemanship to be seen.
        "Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc"


        • Original Poster

          Thanks, all. I have a little experience driving a horse, but not teaching. I do know donkeys are different as far as their training and learning, having had donkeys for 12 years. Yes, I've seen Meredith Hodges site- I'll delve into it more. I'm not sure I'll have any luck in finding an experienced trainer near me that has experience with donkeys, but I'll keep looking.


          • #6
            You might be able to get away with finding an open-minded driving trainer. The donkey should know all the things a horse should know about driving, namely tolerating noises and movement behind them, pushing into the breeching and (breast)collar, the feel of the shafts or pole, whip and rein aids, etc. and just do it on donkey time.


            • #7
              Finding an experienced donkey trainer has been my biggest hurdle for my girl. I want help from someone who knows what they are doing, since donkeys don’t always forgive and forget mistakes like a horse...

              Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO


              • #8
                Check this out; https://www.thedonkeyshowsite.com/

                Look in the Trophy Box section.
                ... _. ._ .._. .._


                • #9
                  I've been driving my standard size donkey for 4 years and she is a dream to drive. She was 3 when I bought her she had never worn a halter though she had been handled and loved on from birth to age 3.

                  The biggest difference with donkeys is, to use a car analogy, they run at about 1200RPM's where as a horse/pony runs at about 1800RPM's. In other words don't confuse Donkey Time and reaction to being stubborn- they just are different than a horse.

                  She accepted the harness with no issues. Ground driving was typical- it didn't make sense for her to walk without me beside her head. Once that was understood she did fine and we worked on voice commands & patience. She pulled a home made drag with weight and then moved into a cart a month or so later. She is a solid driving citizen now and I tell folks "you can drive my donkey to the gates of Hell or the Pearly Gates and she will get you there in one piece."

                  Case in point- at a 4th of July parade last Wednesday and honest to God firetruck going out on a call with sirens blasting and lights going came up behind us IN the parade to answer a call. I drove my donkey off the road onto the grass and she stood stock still as the fire truck passed us. 30 minutes later the parade is over and I'm driving her back to the trailer on a road that runs parallel to railroad tracks. The tracks are maybe 60' from the road with no trees to hide them. Guess what? I hear an oncoming train and my donkey has never seen a train before. She was foot perfect as the 2 engine train came past us at 45mph. On Saturday she competed in her first ADS show in the Novice division and ended the day with 1 first and 2 second place finishes. Pretty versatile little gal. I worked my fanny and her fanny off to develop her trot to achieve 1800RPM's for the ADS show because 3 speeds at a trot is tough to create in a donkey.

                  Good luck with your donkeys!


                  • Original Poster

                    SLW - Wow!! That's amazing! Thanks for sharing. Got any pics?


                    • #11
                      I clicked on this thread hoping for photos. Won't anyone indulge me!?
                      Building and Managing the Small Horse Farm: http://thesmallhorsefarm.blogspot.com


                      • #12
                        I have still shot from line up in our first class. I am unable to get a short video to upload.



                        • #13
                          OP, if you're donkey savvy and have a basic understanding of the steps to get equines tolerant of the things they need to get OK with to drive, you'd probably do a fine job yourself.

                          The biggest thing I've found with donkeys (I have two minis, one is broke to drive):

                          - You do not need repetition. Once they understand something and have demonstrated they understand, move on. Keep your introductions and lessons simple and short and you'll get very far very quickly.
                          - Know your animal: motivations to each individual are extremely important, more so than for horses because as I'm sure you know, donkeys don't give a rat's behind about pressure and release. Both of our boys love carrots, so we use them liberally for anything they are unsure about or need some motivation to do. It has worked with trailer loading, bridge crossing, navigating through water obstacles, jumping up onto and down off of things, tolerating the farrier/vet, etc.
                          - Use voice commands: it's super common for driving anyway, but I have found donkeys respond really, really well to voice. I can drive our cart-broke jack off of voice alone.
                          - If something becomes bothersome, break it down more. Our guy did struggle with the blinders for a bit. We got crafty using a halter and some stiff-ish plastic sheeting we found at a craft supply store and created blinders that relegated his visual field in increments. We also went back and got him really, really comfortable with what whip cues felt like, got him solid on voice commands and got him OK with noises coming from behind him. That made the blinder training much easier because by that point, he knew the cues and didn't feel so concerned about stuff coming from a place he couldn't see.

                          Most of all ENJOY. Donkeys are amazing partners for pretty much any endeavor!
                          Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not. Remember that what you have now was once among the many things that you only hoped for.


                          • #14
                            What a pretty molly...wonderful to see long ears out beating the short ears.
                            "Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc"


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Trakehner View Post
                              What a pretty molly...wonderful to see long ears out beating the short ears.
                              Thank you. It was Novice with 5 in the class. Second in Turnout and Working. Won Reinsmanship. I think that's called Kicking Ass for her first ADS show.


                              • #16
                                With my mule we’re only half-assed. Fun of long ears...get to do a lot of Shrek scenes and Yosemite Sam.
                                "Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc"