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Any one experienced with Donkeys?

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  • Any one experienced with Donkeys?

    Ok we got two jennies back in October to be scouts on our farm for Coyotes as we have a small horse breeding operation and wanted a deterrent as well as something for the foals to get used to. They were both not halter broke when we got them. One is more friendly than the other and I kind of have her a little more trained. The other will take treats from your hand and maybe let you touch her face but that it.

    Well we didn’t know they were pregnant but know we have 4 donkeys. Kapissa (the not so friendly of the two) had a little jenny about three weeks ago and Paktia had a little jack Monday evening. We placed Kapissa and her foal in our one paddock (got her in there by picking up the foal and taking her there mom followed). We have been messing with Sharana (Kapissa’s litte one) pretty much every day from birth hoping to not end up with another Kapissa. Unfortunately Sharana had gotten fast and won’t let us catch her now.

    Paktia and Gardez (her little boy) we have left in the larger field at the moment because I don’t have another paddock I felt was safe for little Gardez, not to concerned because she hasn’t changed and still allows us to mess with her and baby.

    Question….how the heck do you halter break and gentle donkeys!? I have tried everything I can think of to get Kapissa to warm up to me and trust me more but nothing is working. Paktia will allow me to get a halter on her but I am not having much luck getting her to understand leading. I have tried clicker training with them but I must be doing it wrong.

    I love my donkeys but I really need to get there feet done and I can’t handle them!

  • #2

    Nice family that rescues and looks after the feral donkeys in Aruba. Very helpful, and could probably give you lots of good advice.

    Don't know if this book is any good, but the name is priceless!

    The Definitive DOnkey, a Textbook on the Modern Ass.

    I'd be surprised if many of the same techniques for horses wouldn't work at least to some degree on donkeys. Something along the many "join up" methods, for all the shtick and packaging, might just get you started. But first you'd have to catch and confine the critters.
    Click here before you buy.


    • #3
      Are they standard size?

      What I'd recommend might not be an idea the rest of COTH will like, but you need to get your hands on that feral jennet. I take it you haven't had her feet done or anything else since October, and that's not very cool IMO. My idea is to get someone to come rope her, which will appear tragic especially with baby jack running around as well, but it needs to be done. You might need someone(s) with a gate to make a squeeze chute once she's roped. Then get her haltered with a leadrope that will drag on the ground, which she will NOT like but will adjust. Might as well get a grow with me halter on the jack at the same time, because you need to catch him to get him gelded.

      The haltering will probably be a fight. Bring friends. And beer and aspirin and a cell phone. When donkeys don't want to do something, they will generally do everything in their power (which includes some Jedi crap too) to not do it.

      Also, she will remember this for a LONG time. You need to catch her and hold on every day, and become her friend. Ditto baby jack.

      I've dealt with several burros from the BLM that were feral caught. It isn't undoable, but it's pretty hard. They are not food or treat driven like horses, so bribery is out. Clicker training? No idea. Just consistent gentle handling after the initial horribleness is over.
      COTH's official mini-donk enabler

      "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl


      • #4
        I don't think roping an animal at need is in any way cruel, but if there is an appropriate setup where the animals could be brought into a smaller enclosure and confined and then confined some more, maybe that would be less traumatic?
        Click here before you buy.


        • #5
          Clicker training is based on food rewards generally, so not generally useful on donkeys as noted. Donkeys kind of have a 'screw you if I want something I'll get it myself' mentality (like zebras).

          As a farrier I've worked on quite a few donkeys and it SUCKS when you get a feral one. Generally what seems to work best is the very careful (so no one gets hurt) application of overwhelming force (not BEATING them, geez, but, for instance, tying them short and unbreakable so they can't head-butt you in the face and then scamper away over your bleeding body. Or roping a back foot and tying the other end around their neck so they can't get 100% power/range into a kick). Once they realize they don't have any options and it's not hurting them to get with the program, they come along pretty well. And they have an excellent sense of self-preservation.... Never seen a donkey panic and hurt itself like a horse would when 'trapped'. I had one totally feral full size donkey whose owners ran him into a head-gate for cattle and then used ratchet straps to secure him to one side of the chute, then removed the other side so we could work on the feet on that side..... Then reassemble and switch sides..... Not a method I would have chosen, but it worked because once the donkey realized he was 'got', he just stood there....! A horse would have killed itself (and probably everyone else!)

          Unbreakable rope halter with a long catch rope on the mama donkey (run her into a stall, squeeze chute, or lasso her--I'd say drug her feed if she didn't have a foal at heel....) and a big sturdy post or tree you can tie her to until she learns to stand. long rope to loop her pasterns and pick her feet up with until she learns not to kick/stomp. Etc. tough love. They are NOT horses and do not even remotely have the same delicate sensibilities or suicidal impulses.

          Third Charm Event Team


          • #6
            What Third Charm and TheJenners said.

            our donk was well handled but decided as a young man that getting his feet done was offensive, so he flopped on the ground in protest. Farrier sat on his white donkey tummy and by golly did his feet, while I knelt on his neck. Never, not once in the thirteen years since- has he been anything but a gentleman for the farrier.

            Expect dust- leave a halter and short lead (like 2' max) attached- and pen them somewhere TINY for a while.


            • #7
              Deltawave :-) I was going on what OP said, which was she only had the one pen. Hence why one Jenny was in and one was out.
              COTH's official mini-donk enabler

              "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl


              • #8
                When I got my adult not-feral-but-not-terribly-social standard donkey, I bought the book THE DONKEY COMPANION by Sue Weaver (Amazon has it). Great information on what donkeys are about and how you can train them. They are definitely different than horses and do take some patience but it can be done and it's actually fun. And my experience is different than some posters: my Vaquero is definitely treat driven! I do clicker training using frosted mini-wheats (suggested in the book) for general training and teeny pieces of peppermint stick only for hoof cleaning and trimming. When I'm just brushing him now, he voluntarily lifts his front feet, even if no hoof-cleaning was in the cards. And unlike some horses I've known, my donkey is not pushy about the treats at all.

                Early on, mine decided he didn't want to get caught and I did have a cowboy come rope him and put a halter on him; turned out the cowboy was extremely gentle. I have left the halter on but whenever I brush him, scratch his butt (loves it!), clean his feet or whatever, I clip on the short lead rope (about 2') so he learns that it's not a big deal or bad thing. Between the clicker training and my frequent hoof cleaning (with peppermints!), he's gone from having to be given Dormosedan gel and snubbed up tight to a post for the trimmer to now standing quietly while I hold him on the lead. It just takes time and repeated handling.

                My take on donkeys vs. horses: most horses trust people and accept their leadership. A donkey may humor you and go along with you... but if the situation begins looking dicey to him, he firmly believes that he knows what's best for himself and he's looking out for number 1!

                Anyway, that was a really long answer (I love my donkey) but the short answer is this: Get That Book!
                It's just grass and water till it hits the ground.


                • Original Poster

                  Thanks everyone for the tips. They are small standard donkeys.

                  They have not had there feet done but luckily they have not gotten bad, but no need to let it go any longer. The one I have left in the larger field isn't as difficult as the other and she is the one with the little jack. I am working on the other paddock to make it small donkey safe. Once that is the case I will most likely try and get the more difficult one and her jennet foal in to it as it is smaller then bring the other into the larger.

                  Then I am going to have to get mean and get a halter on her and baby. I know it isn't going to be fun and she is probably never going to forgive me. My hope is to get through to the babies and come to an agreement with the moms.

                  I am assuming the jack can be gelding around the same age you would geld a colt?

                  Keep the advice coming.


                  • #10
                    I would suggest you contact The Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth, Devon, England. This establishment is THE largest, most experienced sanctuary in the world. Their medical research and literature is the gold standard for vets and other sanctuaries across the globe. They work with donkeys at their seven centers in the UK and Ireland, and others in many third world countries. Many of the donkeys in their care are feral. They would be best placed to give you valuable advice.

                    It is important to be aware of the fact that medical parameters for donkeys are unlike those for horses. If any of your donks need blood work, it is imperative that the practitioner does not derive his/her findings based on the norms for horses. I found that out, to my cost, when a young vet pulled blood from one of my donkeys and almost caused its demise. Thankfully, I had taken a donkey-owners course given by the Sanctuary a few years before acquiring my first, and learned about the differences between them and horses. This young man sent the results to the Sanctuary and received the corrected values almost immediately. Even their temperature is different from horses. Also, donkeys are not waterproof like horses. They really need to have shelter from heavy rain and snow...especially the babies.

                    You can reach the Sanctuary online or through the mail using the address in the first sentence of this post. They are very helpful and informative.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by InfiniteLoopFarm View Post
                      I know it isn't going to be fun and she is probably never going to forgive me.
                      She will.
                      COTH's official mini-donk enabler

                      "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl


                      • #12
                        What ThirdCharm said.

                        As to leading -- I find that the pressure and release system works well for me. Pressure until the donkey yields, and you have to be so good at observation, that you release when the donkey starts to THINK about yielding. They catch on really quickly. This doesn't work so well with 'whoa'. They'll darned well drag you wherever they want to go .

                        Move slowly in arcs around the skittish one. Moving directly toward one is a sure way to get it to go the other way. And my small standards are food motivated. Instant praise and treats for doing what you ask. Only be sure to not let them scavenge for treats in your pockets. They can be very persistent .
                        My Equestrian Art Photography page


                        • #13
                          OP, I don't have any suggestions about donkeys, but wanted to say that I think it's awesome that you are doing right by these girls and their munchkins. Sorry you got preggers animals without your knowledge!
                          As Peter, Paul, and Mary say, a dragon lives forever.


                          • #14
                            Oh, dear, don't anyone tell my Anky and Isabell that they aren't supposed to be food-motivated! They would be SO embarassed!

                            Mine will do something if they see a point to it. Also, I found that they would give in if they were outnumbered--two people could accomplish what one would not have a prayer of. Consistency is important.
                            "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

                            Spay and neuter. Please.


                            • #15
                              I have two - a feral, unhandled mini that was the hellspawn of Satan when I got him at 4 months old, and a small standard I got from a rescue.

                              Hellspawn is now a 7 year old doll baby that my 9 year old stepson can walk and hand graze.

                              They are both INCREDIBLY food motivated, and I have used that extensively in training. Now, it did take them a while to understand a treat, so I started out hand feeding them their ration balancer pellets and such until they realized that what I offered in my hand = yumminess.

                              I can trim them, halterless, in a field if I so choose, so I think we turned out ok! Initially I trimmed them a swipe across the foot a week, just to get them used to it all, and now they are on a normal schedule.


                              • #16
                                calm persistence is the key with donkeys. Once they realise you are not going to go away and are not going to hurt them they tend to give in gracefully. Don't rush them, they do like to stop and think - which is a good thing, as was mentioned above, they have excellent self preservation skills. Most ones I know have liked treats - its just a matter of finding out what they like - hot dog buns, alfalfa cubes, carrots are on some of my client donkeys to eat lists.


                                • Original Poster

                                  Originally posted by CrowneDragon View Post
                                  OP, I don't have any suggestions about donkeys, but wanted to say that I think it's awesome that you are doing right by these girls and their munchkins. Sorry you got preggers animals without your knowledge!
                                  Thank you! I love my donkeys and want them to be good citizens :-) And the unknown pregnacies aren't that bad because there isn't anything much cuter than a donkey baby!


                                  Hopefully the link works


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by sherian View Post
                                    Most ones I know have liked treats - its just a matter of finding out what they like - hot dog buns, alfalfa cubes, carrots are on some of my client donkeys to eat lists.
                                    Mine like frosted strawberry pop tarts and cool ranch doritos, in addition to the usuals like carrots, apples and various cookies.


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Personal Champ View Post
                                      Mine like frosted strawberry pop tarts and cool ranch doritos, in addition to the usuals like carrots, apples and various cookies.
                                      oddly enough my pet sheep loves Doritoes, maybe I should try him on pop tarts!


                                      • #20
                                        Oh I didn't say IME donkeys don't like treats, just that they weren't food driven, ie use treats to bribe them to do things they may not want. Load into a trailer? No way. Stand for clipping? Nu uh. Learn to get feet handled? Ha. Oh they take the treats if they aren't completely sulled up, but not the same way horses do when learning something and behavior is rewarded with food.

                                        FWIW, my mini is a treat hound, but they don't make his behavior any better.
                                        COTH's official mini-donk enabler

                                        "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl