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March 09, 2005

Donkey See... Donkey Do...

Sometimes it is really amazing to see how observant donkeys and mules can be!

Recently I wrote about adding a new "bridge" obstacle to my donkey Andy's training routine. I laid a sheet of plywood on the ground with pylons at both ends, and every so often throughout my training session I would have Andy walk or trot across the plywood "bridge". This really added some great variety to his lesson, and made it a lot more interesting for him.

While I was working with Andy, one of my donkey jennets, Smokey, was intently watching us. She watched me lead Andy up to the plywood and have him walk across it until he was sure it wouldn't hurt him. Then she watched me ride him around the training area and across the plywood.

Smokey is the head jennet in my donkey herd. She is a competitive donkey and loves to have training lessons and get to show me what she can do and how good a girl she can be. I have started Smokey under saddle, but she is still very green and has a lot of refining to be done. But she tries very hard, and I love working with donkeys with her kind of attitude!


I worked with Andy riding across the "bridge" obstacle several days, and after a week or two Smokey was feeling very neglected and left out since she hadn't had a lesson in a while. So about a week ago I decided to do another training lesson with Smokey.

Now Smokey usually has issues with walking on new surfaces like asphalt and concrete, etc. Even though she is still pretty young, she developed a cataract in one eye a few years ago. I think that is one big reason why she is more cautious of walking on new surfaces - she can't see them as well.

So I figured that Smokey would not be too excited about walking across the new plywood "bridge" obstacle for the first time. I figured she'd sniff it and want to walk around it instead of setting foot on top of that different surface.

Was I wrong! I led Smokey up to the plywood and she promptly walked right across it without even blinking an eye. Then I got on her and asked her to walk and trot around the outside of my training area. Smokey only had one place she wanted to go! All she wanted to do was walk and trot in little circles in the middle of the training area where she could cross the "bridge" as often as possible!

If she could talk, I think she would have said, "Kristie, I know what it is that you want me to do! Let me show you! See, I'm supposed to go across the plywood just like Andy did!"

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at March 9, 2005 06:33 AM