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January 30, 2009

Book Review: The Professional Handbook of the Donkey

This book is a must-have for all donkey owners.

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The Professional Handbook of the Donkey was compiled by Dr. Elisabeth D. Svendsen of The Donkey Sanctuary. It contains detailed information on many topics of interest to donkey owners, including:

- General donkey care
- Detailed description of the donkey foot and its care
- Donkey nutrition and housing needs
- Pasture management for the donkey herd
- Typical donkey social behavior
- An overview of common medical problems in donkeys and their treatments.
- Donkey specific information about several common surgical procedures
- Breeding, foaling, and care of the baby donkey
- Riding, driving and showing donkeys

I have found it to be very informative and educational reading, and highly recommend it as an addition to your longears book library!

I believe it may currently be in the process of being revised, but you may still be able to get copies of the last version, or may choose to wait a few months until the new revised version is available for purchase.


Kristie Jorgensen
LongearsMall.com

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 08:05 PM | Comments (0)

January 29, 2009

A Quick Reminder

Don't forget, the Bishop Mule Days show office opens Monday morning at 8:30am.

If you want the best camping spots, you'll want to get your reservations in early!

In the meantime, here's a fun video from the Bishop Mule Days parade last year.


Kristie Jorgensen
LongearsMall.com


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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 10:23 PM | Comments (0)

January 28, 2009

More of the Provence Donkey

Earlier this week I wrote about the Provence breed of donkeys from France. Here are a few special photos of these beautiful donkeys. Thanks to the Association de l'âne de Provence for sharing these photos with us!

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Aren't these some fantastic harnesses, carts and teams!

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The donkeys in these photos appear to be very well trained, versatile equines.

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Here is another lovely photo that I found: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chadokpebrok/2969156939/


And a nice video of a Provence donkey:

Or click this link

The description that was with this video translates something like this:

"The Provence donkey is a breed from southeastern France (Provence, Dauphiné, Savoie, and Cévennes). It is a medium sized donkey. Their color is solid "dove gray", and they have a black cross on their back. The breed has long been associated with the movement of sheep herds, carrying equipment for the shepherds on their travels to and from the pastures in the Alps. These donkeys were selected for their solid build and suitability to travel on the steep mountain paths. This patient animal is nowadays mainly used as a pet, or in tourism to transport luggage for hikers. This breed is very few in numbers now, with approximately 300 individuals in 1994. The Provence Donkey Association is working to protect this breed, in collaboration with the National Stud. The breed was officially recognized in 1995."

And while I was on YouTube, I found this fun video! It must have been taken at a donkey show or competition. Check out some of those driving obstacles! Looks like fun! And some very well trained donkeys. Anybody want to go with me to visit the French donkey shows now?


Kristie Jorgensen
LongearsMall.com


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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 09:14 PM | Comments (0)

January 27, 2009

Which Saddle?

"I want to buy a new saddle for my mule this spring. Which one should I get?"

Question:
I have a 2 yr old mule that I want to train to be my riding mount. She is coming along well in her ground work training. I want to start letting a light rider ride on her for short periods of time while I lead her.

I plan to keep this mule for many years to come, and am thinking I want to purchase a new saddle for her this spring. Should I purchase a "mule" saddle or a "horse" saddle? Could a mule saddle be used on my horse too? Or would a horse saddle fit my mule?

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Answer:
A few thoughts to consider....

I would guess that if your mule is only 2 yrs old now, she will probably grow a good bit more (at least width wise, filling out, if not a little more height wise) before she is mature. A saddle that fits her perfect right now, may not fit when she is mature, depending on how and where she grows, and how closely her mature back shape and angles matches what she has now.

You asked about horse saddles verses mule saddles. My experience has been that I do better just ignoring what "kind" of saddle it is, and focus more on how the fit looks and feels when I actually put in on my mount. I've tried a number of saddles on simi-quarter horse trees, and every one of them fit differently. It’s like buying shoes. Just because manufacturer A and manufacturer B both make Women's size 8 shoes doesn't mean that they will all fit the same way! The same applies to saddles.

So my suggestion is, when you are ready to buy, arrange to try them on your mount(s) before committing to the purchase. Some tack stores will let you return the saddle within a certain time if it doesn't fit, as long as it is still in brand new condition. Or sometimes you can take your animals to the tack store and try them on there.

Another thought - if your mule is only just coming 2 years old this spring, you really should wait at least another year or two before starting serious weight carrying with your mule.


Kristie Jorgensen
LongearsMall.com


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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 08:43 PM | Comments (0)

January 26, 2009

About the Breed - Provence Donkeys

The Provence donkey originated in the Basse-Provence, Haute-Provence and Dauphine regions of France, dating back to the 15th century.

The breed was developed by the shepherds of that region. These donkeys were used to carry food, supplies, salt for the sheep, and even young lambs born along the seasonal grazing route traveled by these shepherds. They were selected for their solid bone structure, strong back for carrying heavy loads, docile temperament and good legs - all important traits in their job as shepherds' assistant.

Since the invention of automobiles and trains, this breed has significantly decreased in numbers. In the late 19th century they numbered approximately 13,000, by 1956 they were down to around 2000, and in 1993 there were only 330 left.

The Provence Donkey Association was formed in 1992 enthusiasts who wanted to preserve this unique breed of donkey. The breed has been recognized by the French National Stud since 1995.

Donkeys of this breed should have strong solid bone and calm temperaments. Males should stand between 120cm and 135cm (47 1/4" to 53"), and females should stand between 117cm and 130cm (46" to 51") in height at 3 years of age. They are dove gray in color, and can range from very light gray to dark gray with a hint of red or pink tones. They must have a dark, well defined cross, and may also have leg garters.

Although it is all currently in French, more information can be found on the website of Provence Donkey Association (Association de l’âne de Provence)


Kristie Jorgensen
LongearsMall.com


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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 08:13 PM | Comments (0)

January 23, 2009

Transportation in the Early Days

Today's news article, in the Guest Contributors column, got me curious about early wagon trains. A search on Internet yielded this fascinating find.

There is a little book called "The Story of Arizona" by William Henry Robinson. It can be read in its entirety on Google Books. The part I found intriguing is Chapter XVII - Transportation After the War. It tells of pack trains, stages, mule freighters and the lowly burros that were so much an essential part of life in the west.

Follow this link to read Chapter XVII

It always amazes me how those men and their faithful equines where able to accomplish such feats before the time of trucks and the railroad. History is so fascinating! I'm going to have to sit down and read the rest of the book now.

Here is a photo of a modern day 20-mule team pulling restored borax wagons. They are being driven in the original jerk-line style.

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Kristie Jorgensen
LongearsMall.com


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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 06:58 AM | Comments (0)

January 22, 2009

Longears Mall Site Updates

See how easy it is to find longears owners, breeders and businesses near you!

We have recently added a few new categories in the Longears Mall Business Directory. Our Miniature Donkey Breeders are now divided by geographic region. So now you can browse the section for breeders nearest you.

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Don't forget, we also still have the Search by Zip Code feature. Go to any of the Stores/Business Listings or Classifieds categories, then click the Advanced Search link near the top of the screen.

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Once the Advanced Search screen loads, enter the search text and category that you would like to search for, and type in your zip code and miles radius in the boxes below. Click search, and it will give you the listings within the area you specified.

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Kristie Jorgensen
LongearsMall.com


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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 07:45 PM | Comments (0)

January 21, 2009

Looking for Longears?

Do you ever find yourself looking for the special little thing with a donkey on it, when you are out shopping?

I know I do! Products with mules and donkeys on them tend to be harder to find. Here's one you might enjoy!

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I don't know about where you live, but here in my area the Girl Scouts are very busy right now selling Girl Scout cookies. Someone made a great choice in selecting the photo for the back of the Do-Si-Do cookies box! It pictures a Girl Scout with her sweet darling miniature donkey friend. If you haven't gotten any yet, you'll have to remember to purchase a box of them from your favorite Girl Scout!


Kristie Jorgensen
LongearsMall.com


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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 06:15 AM | Comments (0)

January 20, 2009

Old Enough to Start Training? Part 2

So what can you start teaching your donkey? And at what age?

Your donkey is never too young to start learning. But what you teach them will differ depending on their age and maturity.

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So for instance I handle my donkeys all over from the moment they are born, start teaching them about letting me pick up their feet when they are still very young (1 day old with my last foal). Just make sure that momma donkey is ok with you handling her newborn baby first. This jennet was more than happy to let me mess with her baby as long as I was scratching momma's shoulder too.

When they are 3 months old or so, I start gently teaching them to lead. By the time they are weaned I like them to be leading reasonably nicely, and as a part of that I also start them with a few basic obstacles to add variety to the leading lessons (going over ground rails, across the bridge, around barrels and pylons, exploring around the yard) - just simple fun little games to keep them interested and make learning fun. Once they are comfortable with the simple obstacles, they can also be taught to get in and out of the trailer.

They also need to learn to respect my personal space at this age. While it might be cute to have a little baby donkey plow into you for attention, it isn't quite so funny and is downright dangerous when they get a little bigger. It's much easier to teach them that respect as a weanling.

Then comes the wait while they grow up a little... During this time I continue their training in the area of basic obstacles and handling, take them out to visit new places and see new things (walks down the street, take them to a couple of shows just to go exploring around a new, busy, noisy environment, etc). And in general let them "enjoy their childhood" and not push them too hard to learn "adult" training. They should view their lessons as fun playtime sessions, not drudgery work.

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When they are 2 1/2 to 3 years old, I think a donkey can start learning ground driving. My young jennet, Star, is 2 1/2 now, and I had thought I would wait a little longer, but she was begging so much to come in for lessons, and I was getting tired of doing the same obstacle ground work with her. So I decided I'd give her a try at ground driving, and see if she picked it right up or got burned out trying to learn it. After a session or two, she had it down pat like a pro, and absolutely loves it. So obviously she's mentally mature enough to learn ground driving at 2 1/2 years old. I'll wait until she's about 3 years old to start light driving in the cart, but in the meantime, she is soaking up her ground driving lessons, and loves showing off her new skills!

I think Star will mature out at the lower end of mammoth size range, probably at around 55-56" tall, so I think she'll probably be ready to start carrying a rider when she's 4 years old. By then she should be a pro at driving, and riding should come quite easily since she'll already know the commands and rein signals from her driving training.

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Kristie Jorgensen
LongearsMall.com

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 07:27 AM | Comments (0)

January 19, 2009

Old Enough to Start Training? Part 1

Your baby donkey is starting to grow up. When can you start her training?

I believe that a donkey is never too young to start learning. But what you teach them will differ depending on their age and maturity. There are many factors to take into account when deciding if your donkey is ready for training. Here are a few things that I take into consideration.

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One is their physical maturity. Mammoth donkeys take a while to mature. I think usually they can start some light driving (pulling a light cart on the level) at around 3 years old. And I like to wait until they are 4 years old to start serious riding training. Some of the taller mammoths can take even longer to mature both mentally and physically.

You can also have your vet check to see how their bones are developing (if their knees have closed yet, etc), to have an idea of how fast they are maturing physically. I've read that horses knees usually have closed by the time they are 2 yrs old. So if you have a very tall 3 yr old donkey who's knees have still not closed, you should consider waiting longer than you might ordinarily wait for that donkey to mature physically before starting riding.

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The second thing to consider is their mental maturity. When you work with a number of donkeys, you'll start to notice, some of them seem to just love their training session time, while others get tired of it more quickly. Some will eat up a 10 minute session, but lose focus if you go longer than 20 minutes. While others can go for an hour (as long as you mix the exercises up a bit) and not get bored. If a young donkey still has a very short attention span, I keep their lessons shorter and simple. The older, more mature donkeys can handle a longer training sessions without getting burned out. You definitely don't want your donkey to get burned out about training - you want it to be fun and something to look forward to.

In the case of my gelding Bentley, I bought him as a 4 yr old. He was 15.1hh, so I thought I'd just take it easy with him for a few months and let him mature a little more. I tried starting him under saddle at 5 years old, but he started acting burned out about it pretty quick, and after 2 or 3 sessions of him just acting more and more disinterested, I decided to give him another year to grow. At 6 years old, and he was much happier about starting saddle training.

As a side note, you will probably notice for a session or two when you first start something new, that your donkey may act confused and less interested in their lesson, but after a session or two, they should start catching on to what you are asking, and enjoy showing you what they have learned. Remember, don't try to push too much at them too fast, but if after two or three sessions of the same simple process (ie. walk when I give the signal to walk and stop when I give the signal to stop, no particular direction necessary just yet), if the donkey still acts like he's just not getting it and is frustrated with the process, it's time to consider a different training technique or letting him mature mentally a little while longer. This was the case with Bentley.

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Watch how the donkey responds when you go out to get him for a training session. If he comes running when he sees you come out with his halter, you know he's looking forward to his time with you. If he turns and walks the other way, he's not excited about it. This can be the result of a couple of factors - lesson time is too long and/or too repetitive (not enough variety, too boring), his tack doesn't fit right and is uncomfortable (poor saddle fit, bridle too small, etc), or he's mentally or physically not ready for the things you are trying to teach him. Take a good look at each of these areas and try adjusting them to find the "sweet spot" for him.

Tomorrow I'll talk about what I like to teach at what ages.


Kristie Jorgensen
LongearsMall.com

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 10:30 AM | Comments (0)

January 16, 2009

Speaking of Calendars...

Do you have a 2009 wall calendar yet? Does it have longears in it?

If not, you'll want to check out the ones from Mischka Press. They always produce stunning calendars, featuring our beloved mules and donkeys busy at work.

I loved my 2008 Donkey Calendar that I bought from them, and am eagerly anticipating my 2009 Donkey Calendar that I ordered a few days ago. It should arrive in the mail any day now!

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Kristie Jorgensen
LongearsMall.com

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 08:50 AM | Comments (0)

January 15, 2009

Highlights for January

You may have noticed that I've been busy adding new additions to the Longears Mall Event Calendar for 2009.

It looks like this year is stacking up to be a really exciting one. We hope to get to meet some of you at a few of the events we attend this summer.

But for now, here are a couple of the highlights coming up in January:

The American Mule Association Board Meeting and Awards Banquet is this Saturday, January 17th, in Reno, Nevada. There were so many stellar donkeys and mules competing in AMA's shows last year. It will be exciting to find out who the award winners are!

The National Western Stock Show will be hosting their Donkey & Mule Show on January 23-25 in Denver, Colorado. For more information, visit http://www.nationalwestern.com/nwss/home/home.php

And if you are into trail riding, the 50th Annual Trail Ride Corpus Christi to San Antonio is coming up January 29 to February 7, 2009. This looks like a fun event for everyone!

And don't forget, if you are planning to go to Bishop Mule Days, they start taking reservations and entries at 8:30am on Monday, February 2nd. Bishop Mule Days is always the highlight of our show season, and we hope to be able to go again this year.

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Kristie Jorgensen
LongearsMall.com

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 06:09 PM | Comments (0)

January 14, 2009

Would You Kiss a Donkey?

It just might help your community! This is how two schools did it.

5 or 6 years ago, I got a call from a friend of mine asking me to bring one of my donkeys to a school party. Here's how the story began. My friend was the head teacher at a small elementary level private school near where I lived at the time. Her school does a "workathon" program every year to raise money for the school and to help the community. The students get sponsors to donate money to the school in exchange for the students doing community service work - helping neighbors in the area, collecting food for the local food bank, etc.

That particular year, my friend decided she'd give the students an extra incentive to reach their workathon goal for the year. If they met the goal, she'd bring a donkey to the end-of-the-schoolyear party and kiss the donkey in front of all the kids. The kids loved the idea, and worked very hard to reach their goal.

So my friend called me up to see if I could provide a donkey for their party. I was happy to oblige. My lovely jennet, Lily, absolutely adores kids, and this was right down her alley! Lily and I were a huge hit at the school party. All the kids eagerly awaited the moment they'd get to see their teacher kiss a donkey. What a blast! And afterward, each class got a chance to come up and pet Lily. Lily loved every minute of it, and was a superb ambassador for longears.

Here is a photo of the teacher, Lily (sporting her bright red lipstick kiss on the nose) and me having a grand time clowning around for the kids!

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I thought of this story when I was reading the news this evening, and ran across the story of another school leader who has volunteered to kiss a donkey in front of his students if they meet their canned food drive goal. Read their story here!

Kristie Jorgensen
LongearsMall.com

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 06:25 PM | Comments (0)

January 13, 2009

New WebCams

We want to welcome two new sites to our list of longears webcams!

You may find them listed off of the "WebCams" menu above. They are Donkey Sanctuary Bonaire and Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue.

Now you can enjoy watching even more donkeys from the comfort of your home or office.

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Do you know of another donkey or mule webcam that isn't in our list yet? Send us the link! We'll be happy to add it!

Kristie Jorgensen
LongearsMall.com


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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 10:20 PM | Comments (0)

January 12, 2009

So, Can a Mule Have Babies?

And what is a hinny?

Thanks for your emails! You have sent some very good questions.

You may have heard from some people that mules can't have babies, and heard from others that mules can. Actually both are right ... sort of.

Mules are a hybrid cross between a male donkey and a female horse. Most mules are sterile, and cannot reproduce.

However, there are a very, very few documented cases where a molly mule (female mule) was bred to a horse stallion or donkey jack (male horse or donkey), conceived and gave birth to a baby.

The American Donkey and Mule Society has more detail about this on their FAQ page at http://www.lovelongears.com/faq Just scroll down to the heading "Can Mules Reproduce?"

Here is another great story about a mule who gave birth to a foal in 2007.


Now for the second question - What is a hinny? A hinny is a lot like a mule - the cross between a donkey and a horse. But this time the daddy is a horse and the mom is a donkey (the opposite of a mule's parents).

So how can you tell the difference between a hinny and a mule? Well, it's usually quite difficult unless you actually see the momma donkey give birth to the baby hinny. Hinny's generally look much the same as mules, and there is no way to tell which it is unless you know for certain who it's parents are.


Kristie Jorgensen
LongearsMall.com

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 08:13 PM | Comments (0)

January 06, 2009

New Site Feature

If you've checked out our Stud Jack Showcase or Donkey Classified ads recently, you have probably noticed a new feature.

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Now you can link your stud jack or donkey for sale to his/her pedigree in the Donkey Tree! All you have to do is search for your donkey's Donkey Tree ID, and put it in the Donkey Tree ID field when you are creating your stud jack listing or donkey classified (currently not available for mules or horses). Then everyone who visits your listing will be able to click on the "View Pedigree" link in your listing to go directly to your donkey's pedigree! Just make sure the ID you enter matches the one in the Donkey Tree (it should start with the letter "I").

If your donkey is not listed in the Donkey Tree yet, simply submit his information, and we will be happy to add him to the Donkey Tree.

The Donkey Tree is a resource for detailed pedigree and genetic information about donkeys of all sizes - registered or not. With a direct link to this wealth of information, prospective customers can glean much wanted information about your donkeys. This is especially useful when looking for a great jack at stud to breed your mare or jennet to!

Kristie Jorgensen
LongearsMall.com


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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 08:28 PM | Comments (0)

January 01, 2009

Listing Subscription Auto-Renewals through PayPal

If you selected our 1-year or 1-month listing subscription options with PayPal auto-renewal, your listing account will auto-renewal when it's expiration comes up. With this choice, your Business Listings and Highlighted Classifieds will have continued coverage, and you will not have to worry about remembering to renew before your listings are dropped.

If you currently have an auto-renewing listing subscription and wish to cancel it, please log into your PayPal account, and find the Longears Mall Subscription in your PayPal transaction history. View details on the transaction. Near the top of the transaction details page, you should see a subscription ID with a link. Click that subscription ID link to go to the subscription details. At the bottom of the Subscription Details screen, you will find a button to Cancel Subscription. This will cancel PayPal's subscription auto-renewal, and will in turn cancel your account auto-renewal on Longears Mall.

If you have any questions about your account or listing subscription, please email us, and we will be happy to help you.


Kristie Jorgensen
LongearsMall.com

Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 07:31 PM | Comments (0)

Happy New Years!

Best wishes...

For the coming year!

From all of us at Longears Mall

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Photography by Christina Boswell

Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 08:40 AM | Comments (0)