Join Date: May 2011
Location: Cortez Colorado
• Horses: 0
If you are interested, here's why people think that donkeys/mules are "stubborn":
Horses evolved to live on open prairies..they see danger, they flee. They have room to. When you train a horse, you are always taking advantage of their natural willingness to spook away from a stimulus, whether it be a whip or your leg pressure. It just gets controlled down to refined aids as you and your horse become more trained.
Donkeys evolved in desert canyons/mountains. If something attacks, they THINK first. If they flee, they may just fall off a cliff! So training a donkey or a mule is different. You train them using the exact same aids, but you time things differently, and you ask slightly different things of them. For example: groundwork for a donkey doesn't involve lunging like you would a horse. You may ground "drive" them on a line a few steps, ask for a quick turn on the forehand, then a quick turn on the hind end, then back up two steps etc etc...this goes on FAST. You don't just ask for one thing and keep harping on it, or a donkey will say "hey! I just went around in a circle...why are you asking me again???"
When you ask something new of a donk, you cannot startle them into doing it like a horse. You have to wait until they think it through. It may take time, but once they figure it out they've GOT IT. That's it, you never need to repeat that training! No practicing or you'll untrain them. It has to make sense. For instance, asking a donkey to trailer load by using a whip behind them doesn't work, but tying the leadrope inside the trailer and letting them figure out that's where they should go does work. You'd never do that to a horse, because they won't think it through! A horse would get hurt. The donkey won't ever hurt himself.
I think a lot of people don't like donkeys because they have the unique ability to make humans look stupid. That's why a sense of humor is really important! Once you are their person and they trust you, they will always try what you ask of them. Most importantly, they'll think it through.