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Donovan the...Chirstmas Donkey?

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  • Donovan the...Chirstmas Donkey?

    Hi all, you may remember my previous exuberant thread on Donovan the Donkey. Here's an update, and our future plans!

    Turns out, Donovan is a riding donk. The other day I was goofing around with him and tossed a saddle up, just for fun, and he didn't even blink. Then I laid across him, same thing. I didn't go further, because the saddle didn't really fit, it was just what I had close at hand that more or less fit without a rider.

    Yesterday I decided to hop up bareback. No saddle, no bit (again, nothing small enough!), but I decided to test him out. So with nothing more than a set of reins hooked to his halter and a helmet for me, we set off.

    Turns out Donny does ride, at least somewhat. He doesn't seem to have much finesse, but understands a squeeze of the legs=forward, and basic steering. That's all I'll ask him for until he has some proper tack and I have a bit more education about donkeys, remember I'm new at this!

    Also, plans are in the works for another donkey. I have my eye on one, we'll see if it works out. I'll tell more as soon as it is sure!

    So, the big news is that Donovan has had his appearance requested at my mother's church for Christmas Eve service, as a visitor from the manger at the first Christmas. So far, I think no problem. I have thrown things at him (not maliciously!), flapped fabric all around, run around like an idiot, and snapped pictures of him after dark (for the flash, you see) and thus far he has not batted an eye at anything.

    Does anyone have any additional advice? Really he'll just a novelty, kids will take pics with him and all that but not much. I'll be at his head the entire time. I'm willing to bet Donovan won't mind a bit, I've gone out of my way to try to upset him and he's just like "Hey crazy lady, chill the heck out."

    Also costume advice would be appreciated. He's going to be the only live animal ( the joys of being a minister's daughter and also a horse trainer), so probably will be the focus of pictures. I plan to raid the dollar store for bows to put around his neck and all, but all he'll have on his head at the moment is a plain brown halter. Due to our remoteness, anything more festive designed for equines would need to be ordered and probably not arrive in time, so we're limited mostly to the dollar store and Walmart. Any easy ways to spruce up his Christmas look would be appreciated.
    exploring the relationship between horse and human

  • #2
    No ideas, but PPPPPLLLLLLLEEEEEEAAAAASSSSSEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEeee post pics.
    Flip a coin. It's not what side lands that matters, but what side you were hoping for when the coin was still in the air.

    You call it boxed wine. I call it carboardeaux.

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    • Original Poster

      #3
      No worries, I don't think you could stop me. I think he'll love it, he's the sweetest thing ever. He even made my farm hand, who once said that donkeys were nasty mean creatures that he wouldn't touch with a 10 ft pole, change his mind! Now my hand goes out to feed Donovan treats special He's had a couple of kids around, too, and seems to love them.
      exploring the relationship between horse and human

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      • #4
        That is going to be adorable.
        www.specialhorses.org
        a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues

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        • #5
          Better see how he does with people in robes, shepherd's staffs, gold, frankincense and myrrh.

          And just in case, ask if there'll be camels or sheep there. Or a little boy wiith a drum.
          You jump in the saddle,
          Hold onto the bridle!
          Jump in the line!
          ...Belefonte

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          • Original Poster

            #6
            Haha, he likes sheep, never met camels but we've already ascertained they won't be there. And he's used to burning weeds, think that will carry over to incense?

            And my farm hand is a drummer and Donny is pastured right by his home, so I think that would be okay...
            exploring the relationship between horse and human

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            • #7
              Since he is a riding donkey, are you planning to be Mary?????

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              • Original Poster

                #8
                Mary has already been cast, and my other option would be Joseph...also I am about twice the size of the Nativity cast. Looks like I'm going to be an anonymous shepherd kneeling by Donny during the play, then standing by him for the pics. It's a small congregation, 30-40 people on a typical weekend, so having a single live animal for the Nativity will be a pretty big deal. We're hoping it starts a tradition!
                exploring the relationship between horse and human

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                • #9
                  Having had a donkey that participated in a manger scene, I would advise you to definitely be the shepherd in control of your donkey! Get him used to walking with people in swishing robes, and bring a shepherds hook from the garden if necessary to help keep him in line. Mine was a terror at home, but walked through the city streets and stayed put in the manger like a pro. Then again, he was being handled by a huge rock of a state police officer (the shepherd) just in case he decided to get the heck out of Dodge! He is a medium size donkey with a lot of donkey power, and could take out a whole manger scene if he chose to. I would also get him used to wearing something that Mary can sit on so she won't get the back end of her gown dirty (you don't want the congregation laughing at her), and since this is a church service, I would limit the hay munching in the manger so Mary remains the focus of attention, not a hay munching donkey. Bring the bucket and shovel just in case he poops.

                  I would save the bows and such until after the service, as the donkey was the humble servant of God here. The plain brown halter would be ideal! Have a wonderful time!
                  "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." Albert Einstein

                  http://s1098.photobucket.com/albums/...2011%20Photos/

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Thanks for the advice, Chief. We're definitely getting him thoroughly desensitized, but you mentioned some things I hadn't considered. Although at the moment we aren't sure whether Mary is going to ride, she seems a bit intimidated by the prospect. It's a very small congregation so it sounds like we'll be doing a much smaller thing that you did, but I'm trying to plan for every eventuality.

                    And the bows and stuff are specifically for the pictures afterward and were requested by my mother for that...we definitely don't want to upstage the nativity actors!
                    exploring the relationship between horse and human

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                    • #11
                      If he's to be a part of a nativity scene, ditch the decorations, except perhaps for pictures with the kiddies. The plain brown halter will suffice.

                      Good luck. The donkeys are always the stars of live nativity scenes, even with assorted sheep, goats, & cows around -- especially if they toss out the occasional squeaky-hinge bray. "How can anything so small make so much noise?"
                      The inherent vice of Capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.
                      Winston Churchill

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                      • #12
                        If you plan to be in costume while handling him....make sure he is OK with your costume. My little donkey is the sweetest most unflappable creature unless I come out wearing a hoodie. For some reason he cannot recognise me while I am wearing a hood over my head and it totally freaks him out.
                        Here is a picture of Hank in his Walmart Christmas outfit: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fb...464.1685723434

                        I took a regular santa hat, cut holes for the ears and attached some elastic to go under his jaw to hold it in place. for the bow on his tail, I wrapped his tail with vetwrap and then attached to bow to the vet wrap.
                        "My biggest fear is that when I die my husband is going to try to sell all my horses and tack for what I told him they cost."

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                        • #13
                          I have got to know how you get your donkey to lead! Mine will humor me sometimes, but not consistently. I would really like to have him be a little more reliable. I work with him often, and generally, he will reluctantly follow me. He follows me for treats, so that's what I've been doing, but I feel like he could be much more compliant. LOL.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by PRS View Post
                            Here is a picture of Hank in his Walmart Christmas outfit: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fb...464.1685723434

                            I took a regular santa hat, cut holes for the ears and attached some elastic to go under his jaw to hold it in place. for the bow on his tail, I wrapped his tail with vetwrap and then attached to bow to the vet wrap.
                            OMGiH!!!!!!!!!!! SO CUTE!!!!

                            I think I have just experienced cuteness overload.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              PRS Your donkey is too cute.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Leading: I took mine along with me on all of the feeding chores. Food is a tremendous motivator for a donkey. "C'mon, Let's go" became our cue to come along on the lead line because there would eventually be something pleasurable in it for him, usually some food in a bowl. We walked in the arena for a while, we walked and visited with the boarders in the aisle, we did some of the feeding chores together, we walked out to the field to get halters on the ground and then back to the barn, we checked the fences together ( after he would come along for that and we checked a few panels, I would give him a small treat and let him go)...on and on it went, day in and day out. Sometimes his food came first, sometimes it came in the middle of our chores or at the end, but there was always a reason for him to be interested. Once we got to working on a circle in the arena, saddling and backing, walking on the line seemed like an easy request.

                                Space out the treats or feedings so walking with you has a reason and a reward.
                                "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." Albert Einstein

                                http://s1098.photobucket.com/albums/...2011%20Photos/

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by jackalini View Post
                                  OMGiH!!!!!!!!!!! SO CUTE!!!!

                                  I think I have just experienced cuteness overload.
                                  OMG me too. That is an adorable donkey if I ever saw one!

                                  Originally posted by NeedsAdvil View Post
                                  I have got to know how you get your donkey to lead! Mine will humor me sometimes, but not consistently. I would really like to have him be a little more reliable. I work with him often, and generally, he will reluctantly follow me. He follows me for treats, so that's what I've been doing, but I feel like he could be much more compliant. LOL.
                                  No advice from me, mine came from the feedlot about a month ago and someone else did all the hard work before we ever saw him. That just leaves us wondering how he ended up there in the first place...
                                  exploring the relationship between horse and human

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Chief2 View Post
                                    Leading: I took mine along with me on all of the feeding chores. Food is a tremendous motivator for a donkey. "C'mon, Let's go" became our cue to come along on the lead line because there would eventually be something pleasurable in it for him, usually some food in a bowl. We walked in the arena for a while, we walked and visited with the boarders in the aisle, we did some of the feeding chores together, we walked out to the field to get halters on the ground and then back to the barn, we checked the fences together ( after he would come along for that and we checked a few panels, I would give him a small treat and let him go)...on and on it went, day in and day out. Sometimes his food came first, sometimes it came in the middle of our chores or at the end, but there was always a reason for him to be interested. Once we got to working on a circle in the arena, saddling and backing, walking on the line seemed like an easy request.

                                    Space out the treats or feedings so walking with you has a reason and a reward.
                                    Thanks! Mine is a friendly little guy, and is always pestering me, but that's because it's HIS idea. When it becomes MY idea, he suddenly remembers he has an appointment 50 feet away from where I want him to be. He's definitely food motivated, so I will keep working that angle. I can't groom my horse without him stealing the brushes, headbutting me, grabbing the crossties, etc. Like I said, he's a pest.

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      One thing I did with Donny, too, was do a particular sing-song version of his name whenever I feed him. He seems to have associated it with food and will do things he is hesitant to (trailer loading being the big thing, the other being walking onto the concrete wash rack/grooming area) when I call his name like that. He has always obviously had training, but I think he had some bad experiences along the way so would sometimes get fearful (and really did not want to get in a trailer, which since we suspect he came from back east and was shipped from sale to sale across the country doesn't surprise me), but when I did that he always came right to me.

                                      Don't know how that would apply to your average donk, though, Donny is definitely my first and I'm no expert.
                                      exploring the relationship between horse and human

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Donkey's are very different from horses. Once a horse is trained to lead you can practically lead him anywhere. However even a donkey that is trained to lead will still want to decide if he wants to follow you or not . I've found that my donkey DRIVES much better than he leads. If I'm in a hurry I carry a light dressage whip, hook the lead to his halter and walk by his left hip. I never have to touch him with the whip, just wave it around behind him and he walks out like a champ. If I'm in a REALLY big hurry, I halter my mare and he is guaranteed to follow HER . If I'm not in a big hurry we work on just walking while I lead but unless my mare is in front of us he isn't too eager to leave her.

                                        Getting in the trailer is a whole 'nother story. I suspect he hates riding in the trailer because he is too short to see out of it and it's scary for him. But I do have to trailer him a few times a year and I just need a helper to push him from behind. He is small enough that we can practically lift him into the trailer.
                                        "My biggest fear is that when I die my husband is going to try to sell all my horses and tack for what I told him they cost."

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