HELPFUL HINTS  ---  did you know ........?


           stop and go
             working on feet

stop and go

Vicki/ladywife, ............ 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. 

After attempts 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 dog. 
Vicki/ladywife, 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. 
Whoever trains 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 a habit.
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 even try. 

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. 


working on feet

Date: Sun, 24 Jun 2001

".......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 leading them into lifting their feet.  Can you provide some info on the best way to do this??  I sure would appreciate it!!

I'm new at this (as you can probably tell) and your advice is a big help!! 
....... Thanks again!!"



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 you. 

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". 



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