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September 27, 2006

Adding to Your Obstacle Course

Donkeys love variety in their lessons! There are many fun obstacles that you can set up to challenge your donkeys during their routine training sessions.

One of the most versatile pieces to add to your obstacle collection are a number of pieces of plastic pipe. I have tried several different kinds, and prefer white pipe that is about 4" in diameter. It stands out well against the color of the dirt, and teaches your donkey to be used to pipes like the white ground rails that they often use at shows.

I started off with small solid PVC pipe for my ground poles and cavalettis, but they were a little too small, and I didn't want to spend what it cost for larger solid PVC.

So I was looking at Home Depot for other options and found this white drainage (?) pipe. It doesn't bend like flexible pipe, and kind of has several layers of plastic to form the outside. It's construction sort of reminds me of how cardboard is constructed with the air pockets in between the layers. I love this pipe! I believe it's about 8 feet long and 4" in diameter. It is lightweight plastic pipe with a row of drain holes cut in it all the way down one side. It's the perfect size for ground poles, and didn't cost as much as 4" solid PVC would.

You will probably want to get 4 to 10 pieces of this pipe. Once you have that, you can make all kinds of obstacles!


Lay the pipes parallel on the ground with about 3-4 feet of space between, and ride or ground drive your donkey over them. If your donkey is pulling a cart, you can drive through parallel between then and see if you can go straight through without bumping them.

You can also make a box shape with the pipes, and ride in then turn around and back out. Or I've even used them to set up a keyhole type of pattern to practice the keyhole race in.

You can make a box shape to turn a small circle in, or a wagon wheel shape to practice stepping over the "spokes" (I've seen this one before in trail courses at shows). You can also try sidepassing over a pipe to see how straight a line you can hold while moving sideways.

For making higher cavalettis, I've used cinder block bricks on both ends with the pipe set across the top. I set up some that I really liked that were maybe 6 or 8 inches off the ground. We had some of the decorative cinder block bricks that have an X shape design in the middle instead of just two square holes. Set two of these up (braced so they won't easily fall over) and laid the ends of my pipe in the top of the X. If you are careful about how you set it up, the bricks won't tip over even if the pipe is knocked off the top of them, and the X helps keep the pipe from rolling off. That worked very well, and didn't cost much either.

You could probably also use large blocks of wood on either side to set the pipe across. The important thing to remember is to always set it up so that the pipe can easily fall off if it is bumped by your donkey's leg, and so that whatever it is resting on will not fall over and hurt your donkey either. But there are plenty of inexpensive things you can use to build a great "playground" for your training lessons!

Use your creativity to set up the pipes in different shapes to navigate around and through. Your donkey will love the challenge, and it will help to keep things interesting during their training lessons!

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at September 27, 2006 09:09 AM