Calling all donkey whisperers... - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 5 Old 06-23-2014, 09:06 PM Thread Starter
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Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Tennessee, US
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Calling all donkey whisperers...

I have a young donkey (1 1/2 I was told) I purchased a few months back. He was not handled much, I was also informed (after he was hurriedly unloaded into one of my 2 acre pastures) he had never worn halter. Previous owner only had him a couple weeks. I have no idea who owned him prior. I also have no idea how he was loaded/hauled either time.

I approached him like I would an unhandled colt basically, but I now believe he has been mistreated before. I can now pick up all 4 feet, & touch him anywhere - except his lower face. I cannot halter him, or touch him with one unless I hide it in a pocket or wrapped around my waist. As soon as he sees it he is gone. I can brush him w/ a brush, use a hoof pick & rasp on his feet, etc.

When I first started working w/ him, he would not let me near his left side, & he still jumps occasionally when I am on that side. He would not let me touch his head, which I can somewhat now. He is improving, but still jumpy occasionally. Lower face (near mouth) is a no-go area.

I am just at a loss how to proceed from here....i want a vet to come check him out & a farrier, but neither is possible w/o a halter - well, farrier maybe. He is starting to tolerate my farrier being near him. Oh, & clicker training is not an option as he will not take treats from my hand. I have a thread about his feet also..... new unhandled donkey w/ bad hooves....
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post #2 of 5 Old 06-25-2014, 09:00 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2013
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He was definitely mistreated. Unfortunately that is all too common in the donkey world, and its mainly because of their "Stubbornness". We got our donkey around 5 or 6 years ago and he too was mishandled, but he was around 22 at the time. The first thing I did was go out an buy a turnout halter that would be safe to keep on him. Then everytime I would go in the pasture I would pet the other horses and not really pay much attention to Jack (donkey). Donkeys are extremely smart, so seeing me interact positively with the other horses started to get him to trust me more. He would let me pick his feet up and pet him pretty much wherever, but once he saw that halter he was gone. I eventually had to trick him into getting it on, but after that everyday I would go in there and just pet him without touching the halter. The trick with donkeys is you have to make them think something is their idea. He is young so though he was mistreated it was not for years and years. Jack still has his moments, but he is much better and now ground drives (he doesn't lead so we ground drive him everywhere). Hope this helps and good luck with your new guy!
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post #3 of 5 Old 06-30-2014, 12:33 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2014
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Yeah, it definitely sounds like he was abused. It just takes a lot of time and patience. Donkeys are very smart and so tricking them doesn't always work out so well. I would work on getting him completely used to you...get him acclimated on his left, then work on him letting you touch his face. You could just go out and not even bring a halter, just hang out with him and pet him, and move up a little closer to his head every day. I've seen where some people will lay the nose of the halter over their feed bucket, and then when they eat it just gets them used to something being over their nose, but I'm not sure if he eats grain or not? You could also use a lead rope (if he's not scared of them), sometimes they're a little easier to work with, like you could drape it over his neck and move it up each day. Anyway, good luck and I hope he turns out ok!
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post #4 of 5 Old 08-24-2014, 12:14 PM
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Donkeys, like mules, have a very strong self preservation instinct. Simply put, they don't want to be hurt. I have had mules and a couple donkeys that may take 2 months before they decide to trust you. Be patient and kind with them. Beware of ungelded jacks though if mares are around in heat. They can be unpredictable and dangerous.
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post #5 of 5 Old 02-09-2016, 04:44 PM
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Walk up to him with treats, stand holding it out until he comes and talk to him, stroke him in the places he likes to be stroked. If he spokes and backs away, walk with him being sure to stay at the left side, go "Shhhh, Good boy, shhh". Stroke his neck and and keep talking in a calm way, once he stops backing give him another treat. It work with me.
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