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October 05, 2004

"Are you sure I can stand on only three feet?"

I had a funny experience a few weeks ago with one of my big mammoth saddle jennets. I thought you'd enjoy hearing about my adventure!

Lily01.jpgLily is a very laid back girl. Nothing much fazes her. She prefers to take life at a nice relaxed pace. She is also the only donkey I have that will just follow me into buildings without questioning my wisdom for asking such a feat.

But even though Lily is very calm and relaxed about life, she does have a mind of her own that sometimes shows up in the oddest places! She has a strange sense of humor that can show up most unexpectedly if you are not looking for it. But that's a story for another day!

So I always have to be on my toes when I'm asking Lily to work, and I have to be ready to correct her if she decides to play a trick on me. That sometimes takes some quick thinking to outsmart her!

On one particular evening a few weeks ago, I decided that I wanted to do a short riding lesson with Lily. I got her from her field and brought her to the barn. Then I brushed her down and put her saddle and bridle on. She stood nicely while I was getting her all ready. I think she was enjoying having all the attention to herself while all the other donkeys were jealously watching from the other side of the gate!

I led Lily out to where I was going to ride. Then I tightened her cinch the rest of the way. After Lily's cinch was tight, I wanted to pick up each of her front feet and stretch them out to make sure the skin was lying smooth under her cinch.

Lily02.jpgNow, Lily is usually very good about letting people work with her hooves, and I don't recall her ever trying to kick when I was working on her hooves. But Lily has had a really bad habit of leaning heavy on the foot I am trying to work on. That can create quite a challenge with a girl as big as her!

On this particular evening, I asked Lily to lift one of her front feet for me. Once she had let me pick it up, she started leaning really heavy on that leg - so heavy in fact that her opposite hind foot started to come up off the ground!

I decided I couldn't hold up that much weight forever, but I wasn't going to let her get away with that trick so easily! So I kept her hoof up, while letting her knee drop down to the ground. And over she went! All the way down onto her side. I wasn't going to let her rest there all day, so as soon as she was down on the ground, I thumped her on the rump and told her to get right back up, which she did.

Then we tried it again. I asked her to lift her foot, and once it was up she started leaning really hard on it again. But this time I didn't allow her the comfort of going down onto her knee first. I just held her foot up until she leaned so far over that she just toppled over - "Plop" - right on top of the saddle stirrup! Once again I immediately told her to get right back up again.

Lily03.jpgIt only took her twice to decide that wasn't such a great idea! The third time when I asked her for her foot, she willingly gave it to me and stood up all by herself. Every time I've worked on her hooves since then, she has been careful to not lean on me. I guess she must have decided that it wasn't very comfortable to fall down that hard, especially with a saddle on! And maybe that wasn't such a great way to avoiding hoof work!

Isn't it fun to see our longeared buddies' intelligent minds working through these problems in their training lessons!

Kristie Jorgensen

Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at October 5, 2004 10:04 PM


Dear Kristie,

That is a funny, funny story. I am always amazed at how hard our critters work at trying to get out of doing something when just doing it right the first time would save them so much trouble--not to mention the trouble it would save us! But then, life would be so much less interesting.

Thanks for sharing your great stories.


Posted by: Janie at October 10, 2004 09:59 AM