Part 5: Leading
Date: Tue, 13 Jun 2000 09:54:11 -0500
From: Vicki/ladywife ladywife@b...
Subject: Donkey Training E-Clinic: ....
Now I am ready to teach my donkey to Walk, Stop, Left, and Right.
start I want to make sure he understands everything up to this point.
approach him and he stands quietly waiting, turning his neck to watch me.
With him untied I can rub him all over his body and pick up his feet without
him feeling a need to step away or avoid my hand. If I walk away
he will take a step to follow me. He will allow me to put on and
take off a
halter without resistence.
Within a donkey herd young donkeys are taught by their elders to follow
behind in a single file. I can use this to help the donkey understand
want him to go with me. I go through the steps of approaching him,
him, and putting on his halter. Now I attach a soft cotton 6 foot
to it and stand there and rub him for a couple of minutes and then drop
lead rope and walk away from him. I keep a cautious watch because
takes the first step, he may spook at the snake dangling from his head
trying to grab his legs. I stand back and let him work it out on
This method avoids the struggle and wrestling match with the donkey.
letting him teach himself about the magic of the rope and how it can
mysteriously keep him from walking. When he steps on the rope it
his halter. He must stop. This gives him time to think about
it. To take
a step he must pick up and set down his feet until he finds the one that
releases the magic rope and lets him walk. He has already learned
earlier lesson to stand tied. Now with no one standing near him and
posts near him, the rope is tying him to the ground. This is a very
important safety lesson that should never be overlooked. Someday,
somewhere, someone may fall off of him, or he may become tangled in
something, this lesson teaches him to STOP.
When he follows me calmly stopping and starting when he steps on the rope
is time for me to pick up the rope and begin directing his line of travel.
I never pull on his head. His head is his brake pedal. Pull
on it and he
will stop. The harder I pull, the more determined he will be to resist.
Instead of getting in front of him and pulling, I step to the right and
a short tug and release, tug and release that causes him to turn his neck
toward me. I am him to turn Left and once his neck bends it is a
progression for me to take another step toward his hip and tug and release
again. With his neck bent this far it causes him to shift his center
gravity to make himself more comfortable. The shift of his gravity
beginning of him taking a step with his hind leg. Whether a donkey
turning left, right or walking forward, he must move a hind leg first.
This is his gas pedal and his gear shift. His head is just decoration
balancing weight to keep him from falling over. It is his hindquarters
that control his direction and his speed. If I can get his hindquarters
it pushes the rest of his body in the direction I want him to go.
I tug and release until he moves a single hind foot in the direction of
turn to follow me. Now I move to his other side and do the same thing
ask him to turn Right and tug and release until he shifts in that
It usually does not take very long alternating between sides for him to
figure out to turn when I step around to that side and give him a tug and
release I want him to take a step in that direction. I repeat the
Right so he will begin understanding what that word cue means.
Once he understands to give to the slight tug and release to turn, it is
time to teach him to walk forward. I use a second rope called a
"come-along". This is a lead rope I put a knot in about 4 feet (for
standard/large standard/mammoth) from the snap end (bull snap). Snap
snap in the knot. This makes the rope "P" shaped. The loop
of the "P" is
what I put over the donkey's rump. Up to this point I have encouraged
to move by tugging and releasing on his lead rope, now I am going to
encourage him to take a step forward by giving a tug and release on his
hind quarters to get him to take a step forward.
Holding the lead rope in my LEFT hand and the end of the come-along in
right hand, I am going to step forward, pause and give him a chance to
a step forward with me, if he doesn't, then and only then will I give him
slight tug and release on the come-along. This may startle him and
him to bolt forward so I make sure I am standing at his left shoulder where
I will not be in his path if he does startle. I only tug on the come-along
AFTER I have given him an opportunity to take a step on his own to follow
the direction of my own body moving. When I step forward I begin
right leg so he can see I am moving. With practice he will watch
to see if
I am going to move so he can shadow my action. This is very helpful
later when I want him to trot in hand.
I lead him everywhere, over obstacles, in and out of the trailer, up and
down hills, circling bushes and trees. I do not want him to become
with leading so I try to make it interesting and fun for him. I reward
frequently with praise and lots of rubbing.
If he balks then it is because he does not understand what I want him to
Instead of trying to force him to do it, I stop and back up to a point
where he was comfortable. I do not want to confuse him or shake his
in himself. I want him to enjoy being my partner and be self-assured.
Some donkeys tackle the introduction to new things with glee, others are
hesitant and take a little more time to assure them it is okay to make
mistake. That all you want them to do is try.