Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Higgins, TX. YeeHaw!!
Well, a donk will never forget if you treat them badly. My mini-donk, who is about to be 29 years old, came to us really ear shy as a 2 year old. It's just been in the last couple of years that he figured out that having his ears handled isn't going to kill him. He still doesn't like it, but he doesn't have the freak out like he used to.
Also, you can never push them to do anything. If they see something scary and say "Nope, don't want to go there", you can't just urge them to go on toward it slowly like you can most horses. If they see something scary, it's best to just let them sort of circle out around it and you don't even act like anything happened. If you make a big deal out of something, then it will convince them that there is a reason for there to be a big deal and they'll be even more hesitant.
Long-ears, since they remember and learn so well (they are exponentially smarter than horses), have to believe that what they are doing is their own idea, not yours.
Their behavior is similar to a horse, just much more acute. Where you can make some mistakes with a horse and not have a huge issue come of it, you make the same mistakes with a mule/donkey and you're apt to spend the next weeks/months trying to correct it.
Always remember that feeling of looking at a big, open country over the ears of a good horse, seeing a new trail unwind ahead of you, and that ever-spectacular view from the top of the ridge!!! Follow my training blog: http://robertsontraining.blogspot.com/