Seize the Day and Play in the Moment!

Saturday, Apr 10th  After an overnight low of 17 degrees, I remained optimistic that the sun would shine and our day of plans would be fulfilled.  At 8:30 I was donned in winter attire and outside to pen and feed the donkey boys.  By nine Frank, our farrier, was chapped and ready to trim.  All the hooves, except Merlin’s hind feet were neatly trimmed in no time without a squabble.  Merlin watched all the others but said a polite no thank you when it came to his hind feet.  I had suspected this would happen and we agreed to do a training session or two with Frank and his son, Mike at a later time.  In the afternoon I played with my large soft cotton rope and was able to pick the back hooves up but it will be a two man job to go further safely.  Frank and Mike to the rescue!  

I played with each one before putting them away.  I left Hank for last and when it came his turn to go back to the pasture we took a stroll to the mailbox.  Hank is notorious for locking up and not being able to go.  He was fine going down the long lane; Merlin and Galahad followed us and everyone got treats at the mailbox.  I did have a treat in my hand and Hank was pretty focused on the aroma.  There were no problems until we started back.  Hank stopped, I immediately started turning him in circles and then we were able to go forward.  It seemed to work and we proceeded down the driveway and up the lane to the machine shed.  Huge success.

If a donkey locks up on you keep his feet moving by taking the lead rope around his side and hips on the opposite side you are standing and gently pull him around, do both directions, until you can finally move forward again. This can take some time but eventually the donkey gets tired of the circles and is willing to go forward.  

By two in the afternoon it had warmed into the mid 50s and was nice enough to play again.  This time with my helper Robert we harnessed Merlin for the first time in my equipment, it all fit. I used a Mylar comfort snaffle bit as that is what Janelle had trained him in, but I did add the driving bridle with blinkers, which was new to Merlin.

I put Hank in a pen with a blinkered bridle and a mullen butterfly bit for him to get use to while we played with Merlin.  

Robert was at Merlin’s head when we first started ground driving him towards the road.  He was pushy and we did a lot of stopping.  I decided to change the bit to a mullen butterfly as he was walking thru the snaffle for our next session.  I just don’t have any luck with snaffles and donkeys.  I put him into the pen with just the bridle and bit to get use to the blinkers when I took Hank out to play.

Hank’s harness also fit well, huge relief!  We ground drove Hank the opposite direction away from the others.  I had closed the gate so the loose donkeys could not follow us.  I figured with Robert’s help and the aid of the driving whip we could keep him moving.  He was terrific.  He was very light and soft on the bit and stayed going forward.  We walked out to the pond and disturbed all the Canadian Geese.  What a racket they make and Hank just stood waiting for them to depart before walking up to the pond’s edge.  We rested there, backed down the slight incline and kept going to the furthest gate on the property.  Hank was perfect, nothing seems to rattle him!  My brother in law drove up to us in his diesel pickup and Hank again was wonderful while we enjoyed a long visit.  We took a little different route coming back and once again Hank stayed solid all the way.  The three of us went into the gravel pit where Robert left us for a few moments and I had him all to myself, again no problems. I really believe he is going to be super simple to put to a cart.  That was the most walking I have done in a very long time and I was done by the time we got back which was 5 pm.

Rain is expected tomorrow on Sunday, then back to work.  What a great first session for both boys. 

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2 Responses to “Seize the Day and Play in the Moment!”

  1. Lisa Says:

    Great day! Wish there were pics to go along with the story! What is your plan for Marlin’s back feet? One of my donkeys is not good with his hind feet unless he getting fed grain but I don’t like that he can’t be ok without food.

    • teamdonk Says:

      What I have been doing is to rub my hands very quietly down his legs and hold them where I would ask him to pick them up for me. I don’t ask him to pick up just relax. When he gets to where he does not care if my hand is there we are done with part one. I then take a rope and put it around his leg starting at the top and rub it from top to bottom, eventually picking up the foot with the rope. When he is okay with that then it takes a helper, one to work with the rope and one to pick up the hoof which is where I am at right now with Merlin. I start each step on the front where he is not bottered and just go very slowly. This is how I am handling Merlin, I’ve used other methods with different donkeys but this is the one that seems to work for him.

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