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April 30, 2006

Building Bridges

Do you remember when you were a little kid, how much fun it was to go to the playground? Just think what kind of fun your longears "kids" could have with their own playground!

I like to have a playground set up for my donkeys. It is a great place to introduce them to many different obstacles that they might encounter on the trail, at the show, or even just down the street. This week I added a new toy to my donkey playground.

I have been thinking about how I need to practice bridge crossing with my donkeys. Last year my gelding, Andy, didn't want to cross the bridge in the trail class at Bishop Mule Days. So I told myself I would work on that with him so that he is used to them by the time we go to Mule Days this year. The only problem was that I didn't have a bridge obstacle here at home for him to practice. I decided it was time to build one!

It really is quite easy. I'll share with you how I did it so that you can build your own donkey bridge. You will need two 8-foot 4x4s. I bought mine at Home Depot. They were marked as "Outdoor wood posts" and were only $12.97 each. You will also need enough 2x4 or 2x6 boards (I used 2x6 for mine) for the planks on the top of your bridge. And you'll need about 2 lbs of 4" exterior screws.

PlankBridge02.jpg

Cut your 2x4 or 2x6 plank boards into 36" lengths. Then cut your two 4x4 posts into shorter lengths - we had four 34" pieces and two 28" pieces. By cutting the 4x4s in shorter pieces, you can make your bridge into three sections that you can line up end to end. This way you can easily store them in a smaller space, and can move them from place to place easier (the bridge would be quite heavy if it were one piece instead of three!).

PlankBridge01.jpg

Drill holes in the plank boards and the 4x4 skid boards for your screws, then screw the planks down to the skids using 2 or 3 screws on each plank end to attach them securely to the skids. When I attached my bridge planks to the skids, I left about 3/8" space between each plank so there would be an obvious small crack between them. The cracks are not big enough to let anything get caught in them, but they are very obvious to the eye. I did that so that my donkeys could get used to walking across the "black" crack stripes on bridges. After all, when you are riding out on the trail you will most likely encounter bridges with cracks between the planks - not bridges without cracks!

PlankBridge04.jpg

There you have it! Now your bridge is complete! It is sturdy enough to handle plenty of use, and can still be easily moved from place to place. Just be sure to store your bridge pieces where the wind and weather won't rot them away, and friendly donkey teeth won't carve neat patterns in them.

And last, but not least, here is my bridge inspection team (Lily & Andy) reviewing its construction!

PlankBridge03.jpg

Kristie Jorgensen
LongearsMall.com


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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at April 30, 2006 02:47 PM

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