need help with an ornary donkey - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 05-22-2013, 06:31 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Western Colorado
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need help with an ornary donkey

Hi all

This is my first time here and am really needing insight...

A few months ago we were given a 4 year old gelded standard Donkey...he was raised as a herd it was a perfect fit...he loves being with the goats...

He really is a good boy...but handling him is a problem. He was never really handled, and some people are telling my husband that we should just look for another donkey and get rid of him...

He has already saved our farm from an encroaching pack of coyotes...and looks after the goat and their kids really well...if he thinks that they are in danger he will drive them to a safer spot (hubby running skid steer wasn't safe for the goats)...he has even helped me to drive the goats to a different part of the field.

Problem is, it is REALLY hard to his harness on of those knotted rope harnesses. My oldest daughter (soon to be 14) can go and handle him and slip a rope around his neck...

From there we have to tie it to a tree (my 300lb 6'2" hubby cant hold him)...then I can slip the harness on...he doesn't lead that well. the guy we got him from said he is ornery like that...

But we are needing to clean his hooves and trim them too...getting near his legs is a no no as far as he is concerned.

I have read that I need the carrot stick...which I am hoping we can concoct...doesn't look to hard...

I don't want to have to get rid of him because he won't let us take care of him...we can't brush him either...he will bite...

I did a lot of research before getting him...but I guess I failed to look at different aspects of training...

I understand that I have to correct bad when I come up to him with the harness, he walks away...and if I insist, he turns his butt to me...

What I have read, I need to correct him on things like that...a tap with the stick (or poke) and a firm NO verbal command.

We were also told, that in order to do his hooves, we need to rope him and let him run himself exhausted till he goes down on the ground...then sit on his head so he can't get up and clip his hooves...and that after doing that once or twice he should just get the picture and behave and let us do it...

I'm not so sure about that...

From what I have read, there seems to be some actions that we do that are forgivable...and others that just will not be...(read about people saying hit them with whatever you have)...

We love him dearly, but we have got to find a way to take care of him...he needs a brushing, hooves done...teeth checked??? But if we cannot break him of these behaviors (he will try to intimidate us - hubby and I not so much the kids)...I had to disguise his dewormer in some grass in order to give it to him...

Haven't even wanted to think about shots at this point...eesh...

I also read that one needs to get up in their space when working with they need room to be able to rear up and such...that it takes away their ability to get ya...

Not so sure about that either...

Any ideas would be great and so appreciated...I love the big guy...but he has got to be taken care of...I think he thinks he does a good job of it alone...

cmany is offline  
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post #2 of 13 Old 05-22-2013, 07:11 PM
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Nebraska
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Oh my, please do NOT rope him & let him fight it till exausted. IMO, donkeys in general wont forget treatment like that & probably wont trust you in the future. I would sugest having the vet out a tranqulise (sp) him to get needed care done. If he's already 4 & not had much handeling, you've got a long, slow process to try & get him tamed. You can't rush donkeys. It has to be on thier terms. Try to make friends with him through food first, the work on getting him to like being petted & brushed.

Cowgirl up!
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post #3 of 13 Old 05-23-2013, 08:03 AM
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Little Mountain, SC
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Absolutley agree with Littrella.. First the way to a donkey's heart is food and they are very smart and it takes a while to earn their trust. We bought a 6 year old gelding donkey with no training. Although he was born here both parents were from the BLM program. It took 5 of us (4 men)to get him out of the trailer and into our paddock. The first time down to the pasture he took us on a ski trip. We taught him to take a halter by using carrots. It took a while but now he knows, Halter on and he gets a treat. Then we taught him to tie by putting two halters and ropes on and tying to the barn wall. He went crazy but each time he settled down and was quite he got a treat. Now he ties well although if long periods he will paw some. He still does not do very well with leading. We we told to lead train using one of our horses. Over time and treats he learned to enjoy brushing & fly spray. Then we started on picking up his feet. Fronts did not take long..Backs took a while. Start slow and break it down in tiny steps and give treats for letting you touch legs then work up to picking up feet and then hitting the hoofs
Would NEVER EVER hit him. Have heard stories that if they go in to a fear mode and feel they have to defend themselves that would be big trouble. At first he to would turn his butt but waving hands, growling and running him off from the heard gave him the message that it was not allowed
He loves the wormer but does not like shots, especially when given by a Vet. I think that is because when we first got him he had to have a coggins drawn and once he tried to pin the Vet to the wall he ended up being twitched. We have given him shots while giving treats but he still has to be twitched for the Vet to give rabies. Started slow with farrier after we were able to pick up his feet. Still working on that.
Your donkey may be different but I think time and building trust will do the job. Meanwhile if he needs farrier or Vet work either have him sedated or have knowlegeable person use a lip twitch.
sherie is offline  
post #4 of 13 Old 05-23-2013, 03:21 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Western Colorado
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Thanks for the advise...I really didn't think some of what we were told was a good idea. I was able to get a look at his hooves today, and yea they need to be done.

He does love his treats...and I had actually suggested the whole giving him treats as he lets us touch his legs...was thinking maybe cubing some apple (which he loves) into small cubes so that he is not getting too much...

He is horrible with over doing it on hay...he will nip the goats to get at it...bit one of the tips of their tails off on one of our does...

So far when he turns his butt to me, I say no and walk around to the other side and come up on his front...once we can get the halter on, he is fine...its just getting it on him that is the trick...

Going to head out and work with him a bit today...although he is a little excited as the people who have the pasture next door are running cows in there...and they keep coming to the fence...he doesn't like that too much and will sound off at them...then stand by the fence with his butt to them...

Thanks again

cmany is offline  
post #5 of 13 Old 05-24-2013, 07:58 PM
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: manitoba
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I trim a lot of donkeys and calm persistence is the only way to deal with them - if you try to rough house him you will loose. I would suggest getting the vet to tranq him to get his feet done if they are in a bad state, then work on getting him socialised. They are very smart and have excellent self preservation so once they realise you are not going to hurt them and are not going to go away until the job is done they are pretty good about giving in gracefully.
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post #6 of 13 Old 05-27-2013, 10:32 AM
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Last summer I started working with the donkeys at my barn. Not only did I pretty much hitch them to the cart after 3+ years of not driving but I also taught one to stand on a pedestal and "smile" in 20 minutes. They are SMART, don't under estimate them! Forcing them to do something doesn't work. They are mini's and can easily drag people around like the are little more then paper weights.

I'd get him in a smaller area and just go sit with him. When he comes toward you give him a treat. Eventually you approach him, give a treat, and walk away. Then approach, touch, treat, walk away. Then bring a rope, just rub it on him and treat him. Make sure he is comfortable with everything your doing with him. Make him WANT you there. That's the only way your going to "fix" his issues.
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post #7 of 13 Old 05-29-2013, 06:50 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Western Colorado
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Thanks everyone...great advise...

So far I have been going out in the field...with thin sliced carrots...and after fending off the goats...he and I spend time together..

I scratch and pet him...tell him he is a good boy and give him a treat...the first couple of times he went to nip when I went down his front leg...told him no...then led him to a new spot...he loves to follow the carrot bag...

Yesterday there was no nipping...instead when he doesn't like it...he just backs up...then makes for the I lead him away to a new spot...

He follows...he gets a treat...

Today one of my girls helped out...she held the bag...I gave him a real good rub down...always praising him...was able to go down half way on his back legs and just above the hoof on the front...

So I decided to give a gentle grab and made it feel like I was going to lift...once he tried to nip...told him no..and no treat...started over again with the rub down the reaction...treat...

Did a few more nipping...would only move his foot...but no aggressive reaction...

Overall...I think he did good...and is really starting to like the full body scratches and rub downs...

Does it sound like I am doing this right? It feels right...
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post #8 of 13 Old 05-29-2013, 07:11 PM
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I'd say yes! Good job! :) how has he been with haltering?

Try to pair verbal cues with actions. When I say "come on, donks!" They come right to me and follow me. When you get to picking up/handing his feet say something like "give it" or "foot" or "pick it up". It give him fair warning for what your going to do instead of you surprising him. Also make sure he associates "good boy!" with that snack. It will sure come in handy when you want to praise him with no treat.
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post #9 of 13 Old 05-30-2013, 03:36 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Western Colorado
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I haven't tried the halter again...only because I want to get him used to the scratching and rub downs...and yesterday was the first day that I enlisted the help of one of my daughters..

But I think that may be coming soon...

Today I was out there...we are getting massive irrigation (stupid neighbor never warns us...and just floods us out)...he came over to me...for scratches and pets...then he walked forward a little..

I thought at first he was showing me his butt...however..,.he moved a hind leg forward...and made to nip at an I started scratching it...and he really seemed to enjoy it...I stopped...he kept looking at me with his awkward body I scratched again...

Then he straightened himself out once I had satisfied that itch!!!

So I do really feel we are getting somewhere...

And great point associating command with the hooves...I actually did that with my yes...will remember to do that with DeRay as well...

Thanks so much!!!
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cmany is offline  
post #10 of 13 Old 05-30-2013, 03:38 PM
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Virginia
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Sounds like he is coming along really well! Great job :)

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