D O N K E Y   T R A I N I N G   e - C L I N I C
       training attitude

      introduction to donkeys and people ----  communication

        part 1a --  groundwork (1a)                                 part 1b --  groundwork (1b)

        part 2a --  first touch (2a)                                     part 2b --   first touch (2b)

        part 3 --    hand leading

        part 4 --    training attitude                                    part 5 --   leading

        part 6 --   step by step training checklist          part 7 --   lunging


              From: Vicki/ladywife  <ladywife@b...>
              Date: Sun Jun 4, 2000 3:35pm
              Subject: Donkey Training E-Clinic: Part 4 

              In the previous three parts I explain my thinking on how a donkey
              communicates with other donkeys, how I read his body language, how I can
              speak to him using my body language, how understanding his place in the
              donkey hierarchy helps me train him and how to approach him, and how I make
              that first physical contact with him.  All of these things are done in a
              training pen of a suitable size so I can walk all the way around him and
              stay at a safe distance without crowding him so he will not feel threatened
              by my presence.

              This first phase of a donkey's training takes me 3 to 5 days of spending
              about 30 minutes a day with the donkey.  To train a donkey is not something
              where I change into my donkey training clothes and start out for the pen
              with a notion in my head I will spend 30 minutes today training a donkey.
              Every minute that I spend with a donkey I am training him.  Every minute
              that I do not take that extra second to stop and talk to him is actually
              training him too.  And it is not training him in a good way.  Not having
              time to spend with him teaches him I will only give him my attention WHEN I
              DECIDE I HAVE TIME.  This is not good and is something I work very hard to
              avoid.  My time is not more important than his time.  My wants and needs are
              not more important than his wants and needs.  To build a strong, lasting,
              pleasant partnership the donkey and I have to be equals.  One of us is not
              the boss and the other the slave.  It is the give and take of training.  I
              must give of myself and my time if I want the donkey to give me his
              cooperation and willingness.

              The 30 minutes a day I spend with him may be 5 to 10 minutes at a time
              spread through out the day.  I allow the donkey to decide how much time he
              wants me to spend with him.  When I read his body language and it says "I am
              bored, tired, or just want to take a nap", I respect his request for me to
              stop pestering him.  As long as he is asking me questions, I stay, because
              it means he wants to learn more about me and what I want him to do in this
              partnership relationship we are building.

              If by now my donkey (in the training pen) will allow me to walk toward him
              and stop just out of reach and he then steps forward to close the gap and
              touches me, then it is time to move on to the next phase which is teaching
              him to turn and walk toward me.  This is the basis for developing his
              willingness to go with me where ever I ask him.  Before when I entered the
              training pen I approached him at his shoulder so it was easier for him to
              turn his head and face me without having to turn his entire body.  This time
              when I enter the training pen, I will walk toward his hip, stopping 6 feet
              away from him and call his name.  If he does not turn toward me, which will
              require him to turn his body so his face is toward me, I will turn around
              and walk away from him, going to the other side of the pen and ignore him
              for a couple of minutes and try to make sounds like I am doing something
              very interesting.  I carry a small tin bell in my pocket.  When I want the
              donkey to wonder what I'm doing, I'll put my hand in my pocket and jiggle
              the bell.  A pocketful of change will do the same thing.  Anything small
              that I can conceal from his view that will make noise.  I will not look
              toward him.  I want him to take the first step by turning his body toward
              me.  Now I will try it again, approaching him with my hands at my sides.  By
              now he should have learned the pleasure of body rubbing (Photo DT6) and
              should want me to give him a good scratching. 

              I will keep repeating, giving
              him the opportunity to turn and face me until he does take that important
              step to turn his body so I can rub his neck. I will praise him and rub for a
              couple of minutes and then turn around and walk away.  Only this time I will
              not go quite as far away as I did before.  I will stop with my back toward
              him and don't turn around.  I will stand there and wait for him.  He should
              follow me and ask for more rubbing.  This is what I want him to do.  I want
              him to follow me when I walk away from him.  It may take one lesson or it
              may take several depending on his understanding of the previous lessons.  If
              he does not follow me, then I will go back to lesson one and begin again
              because somewhere along the way he failed to understand part of a lesson.
              Even if this donkey is already "halter broke" I will still take him through
              each lesson from the beginning to make sure there hasn't been any holes in
              his training.  Those overlooked and missed steps in his training are the
              things that could crop up later and cause a disaster.

              When he does follow me and ask for more rubbing then he is ready to progress
              to wearing a halter.  The fit of the halter is more important then whether
              the halter is leather or web.  I do not recommend rope halters for donkeys
              because donkeys have very sensitive facial nerves and the narrowness of a
              rope halter can cause them discomfort.  Photo DT7 shows the different halter
              fits on different head shapes.

              Before I put a halter on a donkey the first time I put it in his feed pan so
              he has to root around it to get his oats for a couple of days and then lay
              it over the fence of his training pen so he can look it over and sniff it
              when I am not around.  When I am ready to put the halter on him, I put it
              over my shoulder before I enter the training pen.  I enter the pen and let
              him come up to me for rubbing.  Moving slowly and calmly so I don't startle
              him, I take the halter off of my shoulder and rub it on the side of his
              neck.  If I don't make a big deal about putting the halter on, he won't make
              a big deal of letting me put it on.  The more matter-of-fact I am, the
              easier it will be.  Holding it down, I slip his nose into it (familiarize
              yourself with the halter beforehand so you'll know which part goes where),
              and then pull the poll over his head and buckle it, not too loose and not
              too tight.  I should be able to put 2 fingers easily between his jaw and the
              noseband, his throat and the throatlatch, and his poll and the poll piece.
              The first time he wears his halter I do not take hold of it.  He is the same
              donkey he was yesterday when he wasn't wearing a halter.  I continue with
              his body rubbing and when I am through, I remove the halter.  This is the
              pattern I will establish; halter on, lots of rubbing and attention, halter
              off, leaving.  In his mind he will soon equate the halter with good things
              and stand quietly while it is put on.  This part of his training is building
              the foundation for later when I will want him to stand quietly while being
              bridled, saddled, or harnessed.

              Next week: Attaching a rope to the halter and teaching him to lead and
              having his feet handled.



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 © 2001 Vicki Abbott

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