Getting a nervous donkey to load.
I acquired a few months ago a john donkey (gelding), and immediately decided he and I didn't get along. He's a good boy, just not my cup of tea. At all.
Anyway, so I put some hours on him anyway, saddled and rode him for the first time. He now has about 6 rides on him and I've decided he's good enough to go to someone with more time and patients than I.
I found someone interested in him and they want to come get him tomorrow, but I've never loaded him. The people I got him from said they loaded him just fine. I don't have a horse trailer to practice or test on, and he can be very difficult when he gets nervous (which is a lot).
When he gets nervous, he bolts away as hard as he can, which for a 650lb burro is pretty hard. Even my farrier got dragged.
So, for anyone with experience with a nervous donkey, what can I do? I want to avoid that dreaded bolt any way possible, because he's a PIA to catch when he's loose.
I use clicker training and he responds well to it.
If you are expecting drama then he will be certain to provide it for you!
If he loaded first time why shouldn't he load for a second?
You can stop him pulling away if you keep his head towards you but if you expect him to enter the trailer and have absolutely no doubt that he will, then chances are, he will walk straight in.
Have the trailer parked so it's front is facing where the donkey lived. Take him for a short walk way behind the trailer then take the attitude we are going back but we'll just take this shortcut thro the trailer. As you approach the trailer, don't look at him but keep your eyes on your destination. If you look at him he's going to get suspicious.
I suspect Mr. Donkey/Burro (whatever he is) suspects he is not your favorite critter. Are the new owners familiar with these animals? If they are, maybe they should load him.
I would approach it in as matter-of-fact manner as possible.
Park the trailer alongside a fence or building, use gates or panels to make a contained area around the trailer, then he can't bolt and get loose. If you can't do that do you have a round pen, again cut down the distance that he can get away if he does bolt.
As to actually loading him, would food work for him? The only reluctant donkey we had here, I loaded his girl friend first, a mare, and he nearly mowed everyone down in his haste to get on the trailer, he didn't want to get left behind.
We did get him to load finally, but it took a while. I was right in my suspicions that the people who got him would only have two-horse, whereas he was ued to a three or four horse. That's the reason I'm pretty sure he didn't want to load.
Like Goldenhorse suggested, we took the jenny who he came with and had her near the trailer (she wouldn't go in either) and it calmed him down a lot.
He wouldn't step in, so finally I took a rope tied to one side of the trailer and looped it through other other side, and had it around his hindquarters. Then I pulled on the rope (Fro the outside, someone else was on the inside) and sort of pulleyed him in. I wouldn't do it that way again if I can help it, but it did work without hurting him.
He only bolted once, and that was when I left him with someone he wasn't used to to go get the jenny. Afterward, though, he came right back (Thankfully!)
Thanks again everyone :-)
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