............ I (we) need training!
Honkey is now
a trusting, spoiled, "cuddle bunny". (........) We know and
agree that we want to move to the next step but we don't have the experience
to move there. Honkey is content with being a big puppy, yet, he's seemingly
grasping for a higher, more utilitarian role. And this is where I am once
again bumping heads with him.
to get him to walk "Forward", with a lead and a rider that ended with the
leader left with an empty-handed rope-burn, and the rider forked in the
trees, I decided to back up our training.
We've since refocused
training on stand and whoa. I get on his back and mull around there a bit
so that we can become accustomed to body shifts, weight, height perspective.
About the point I'm feeling relaxed with him he takes off!!!!!
.......... His anthem is "Run Away"!
I am the training
type that I need to go through dog obedience school twice with each new
do you know of someone in our area who could train us?
I don't think you need a donkey trainer.
YOU ARE A DONKEY TRAINER. You are just frustrated at the moment and
I understand what you are feeling. I often still feel that way.
What you have to remember though is the bond you build with Honkey while
you are training him and he is training you is something that no one else
can build for you.
Honkey is the person he will bond with and that really should be you.
It doesn't take any special training, experience or skill to train a donkey.
Just don't forgot donkeys are intelligent and half of training one is figuring
out when he is playing mind games with you and when he really doesn't understand
what you want. I suspect Honkey's behavior is about 50-50, LOL.
You are at the point where you want
to go forward with Honkey's training but Honkey isn't cooperating.
That's not unusual at all. I run into that brick wall every day with
one donkey or another. It helps me if I step back and look at the
situation from a different perspective. Instead of thinking of Honkey
as a donkey, look at him as if he were your child. Donkeys and children
behave very much alike (so do old men!). You adopted a lonely, frightened
child and have done everything you can to make him feel welcome, safe and
loved. And he does now feel safe, welcome and loved. He finally feels
like part of your family. He is your son. You chose him to
shower with affection and protect him from the boogeyman. Now he
can be a healthy, normal child. He can run and play and even if he
makes a mistake he knows you will love him.
To keep him from running the family
you have to be the adult and remind him once in a while HE IS THE CHILD.
To do that you have to set limits and let him know what they are and that
you expect him to behave within those limits. It is very similar
to establishing a relationship with a husband. Your husband has learned
what things you like and don't like and you know what things he likes and
doesn't like. You don't purposely do something you know he doesn't
like because you know it will disrupt the harmony of your family.
That is the same concept you now need to work on with Honkey. He
needs to learn what the limits are of acceptable behavior.
He isn't ready yet for "open sight"
riding. Open sight means he has no visual barriers preventing him
from running off when he decides he wants to run off. He knows there
is no confining fence around him to keep him in a small area so what you
have to do is think "prevention" first, then activity.
Preventing bad behavior is better than trying to correct it once it becomes
I definitely recommend getting some
pipe corral panels. You can usually find 20 ten foot pipe corral panels
for about $500. It will be the best $500 you have ever spent because
you can use them now to make training more pleasant and less frustrating
for you and use them later as temporary pens for Honkey or even sell them
for just about what you paid for them. The nice thing about the pipe
corral panels is they are totally portable and you can add more if you
need to, set them up anywhere in any configuration, and they don't need
posts. They stand on their own.
The problem you described is because
Honkey doesn't have a perimeter. A boundary he has to stay within.
You said it yourself that he is a spoiled cuddle bunny. That's half
of the reason why he bolts. He CAN so he DOES. That's where prevention
puts a stop to the behavior. If he can't run off, he won't.
Don't try to begin riding him in an open area or even in his pasture.
If the area is larger than 10x10 then it is too large.
You have to be able to control his
movements without him knowing you are controlling his movement. That's
why the small pen works so well. He sees the corral panels around
him and he figures it out on his own that he can't run off, so he doesn't
Training is small steps that build on
previous steps so start out with 4 panels set up a 10x10 square pen to
begin riding him in. 10x10 is large enough to give him room to move around
but not big enough for him to bolt and run off. Set the pen up in
your yard or somewhere close to the house that is level with soft grass.
In the small pen either you or Robb hop on him with just a halter and leadrope
fastened to the side rings of the halter in a loop for a rein and sit on
him saying walk until he decides to walk.
Don't bounce or swat him on the butt
to get him to move. If you've taught him what the word "walk" means it
shouldn't take him very long to decide to cooperate and walk.
Don't have one person sit on him and
the other person try to pull on him to make him walk. That only sets
it up in his mind that you want to play tug-of-war with him and that's
a game he likes to play. It may take 2 minutes or it make take 20
minutes of sitting on him and saying walk before he decides to walk.
When he does walk, praise him but don't
try to guide him. Let him walk where he wants to walk in the small
pen. If he's goosey and tries to jump forward and unseat the rider,
then put a saddle on him so the rider has something to hold on to.
Wait until his nose is pointed at one
of the panels and he only has a few steps to reach the side and then say
whoa or stop and give a tug and release, tug and release on the loop rein.
He'll probably walk right through your tugs but when he gets to the corral
panel he will either have to stop or turn.
Still don't try to guide him, let him
choose the path for now. What you want to teach him at this point
is to stop when you ask him to stop and the "barrier" of the corral panels
lets him teach this to himself. Once he stops when you ask him to
stop in the middle of the pen, then it is time to begin asking him to turn
left and to turn right. When he does that, then it is time to add
a few panels to the pen to make it slightly larger. It doesn't matter
if it is round, square, or cockeyed. Add three panels so it is larger
and repeat the same steps you did in the small pen. Each time he
reaches the point where he stops immediately in the middle of the pen when
you ask him to and will turn right and left immediately when you give a
short tug and release on one side or the other of the rein asking him to
turn, then it is time to add another couple panels and make the pen larger.
Once you've used up all of the corral
panels then change it around and use the fence of Honkey's pasture as part
of the pen. 20 ten foot corral panels make a 60 foot diameter round
pen but if you use a corner of Honkey's pen as two sides and use the 20
panels as the other 2 sides you can make a sizable pen to ride him in until
he gets enough saddle time where he is ready for "open sight" riding.
If you try open-sight before he is ready
for it then I can guarantee he will bolt. A person holding a leadrope
is not going to be able to stop him from bolting either and the more often
he can get away with bolting the more likely it is it will become a permanent
habit. Start small with the small pen and give him time to figure
out that it pleases you when he stops when you ask him to stop. Stop is
the most important command he needs to learn.
It does take time and patience but
training can be a fun game for you and Honkey. I would guess it would
take about 20 minutes for 2 or 3 days in the smallest pen for him to figure
it out and then about 30 minutes for 2 or 3 days each time you make the
pen bigger. If you work with him every day it should take about 4
weeks for Honkey to be ready for open-sight riding and once he goes through
these smaller steps with the smaller pens you shouldn't have to worry about
him ever bolting again. You'll be able to ride him where ever you
want when ever you want with just a halter and leadrope.
Date: Sun, 24
".......I am wanting
to get a farrier out here soon to trim their hooves, but I would really
like to have them ready to lift their feet. I didn't see anything
in your training pages on how to get them to lift their feet.
I have been really working with them on getting them used to me.
I can walk up to them. They step back at first but I turn around
and then they come up to me and let me handle them.
They really love
their rumps massaged!!! I have ran my hand down their legs and waved
it around swatting flies and they didn't spook or anything...but I am not
sure what to do next....in leading them into lifting their feet.
Can you provide some info on the best way to do this?? I sure would
I'm new at this
(as you can probably tell) and your advice is a big help!!
The website is
an ongoing project and there are several things we haven't addressed yet.
To teach a donkey
to let you handle his feet you first need to understand why he resists.
Letting you hold onto his foot leaves him defenseless if a predator suddenly
jumps out at him and in a donkey's mind he never knows when a donkey-eating
ogre is going to jump out from behind that rosebush or drop out of the
sky so he must constantly be on alert and ready to defend himself.
To overcome this
strong survival instinct
you should use small steps. The first step is running your hands
up and down his legs just like you are doing. The next step is to
wrap your fingers around his pastern for a moment then let go and continue
rubbing. You want to stop before he
resists or tries to move his foot away from
When he is comfortable
with you wrapping your hand around his pastern the next step is to give
a slight upward pull while you brace against him with your hip so he'll
lift his foot. Only lift is a couple
of inches and set it down again. Don't
drop it and remember you want to put it down before he feels the need to
resist or try to pull the foot away from you. Start at his left front,
then his left rear, right rear, and right front, then back to the right
rear, left rear, and left front again.
Just keep repeating
with each foot increasing the time he will let you hold it and putting
it down before you feel him resisting. I usually put a butt-rubbing in
between the right rear and left rear and put a shoulder rub in at each
front leg. That helps keep them relaxed. Once he allows you
to lift his foot and hold it for a minute add rubbing the sole of his foot
and massaging his heel to each lift. Just keep increasing the length
of time you hold his foot and nonchalantly add picking out gently with
a hoofpick. If you stay relaxed, he
will stay relaxed. Then you can add
taking a swipe with a metal file. I like a small metal file better
than a big hoof rasp because the file is easier to manage. That will help
them get used to the feel of having their hooves rasped.
Their first hoof
trimming is going to frighten them because it will be a stranger trying
to hold onto their foot. You can help ease their fear by having other
people come and practice lifting their feet too. If you don't have
other people who are willing to handle their feet so your donkeys will
get accustomed to strangers, when the farrier is there you can stand so
your body blocks their view so they can see only you and not the farrier
handling their feet. Explain to the farrier this is their first trim.
If he tries to hurry them, STOP. The experience of their first trim
stays with them their entire life and if they are bullied or forced to
submit it will sour the experience for them and can cause them to allow
you to handle their feet but have a tizzy when anyone else tries to, specially
a farrier. A donkey can recognize a farrier by his smell so even
if it is a different farrier than the one who bullied them they can still
resist because it is a "farrier".