300 Miles under harness

Fantastic Teamdonk drive with Luc and Galahad, we drove 6 miles Saturday Aug 14th to Stites Road & home in 2 hr and 12 minutes.  Started at 8:30 with 63 degrees as our temperature, it was just right at 71* when we arrived home.  This is a drive I really wanted to do before the wheat harvest got underway as it has become a favorite.  The Camas Prairie is carpeted in golden ripe crops framed by the royal blue of the mountains.  We rested near a babbling brook making its way thru deep green grasses with sunlight dancing off the waters.  A half dozen does and one baby fawn old enough to clear a five foot fence caught our attention.

I had a fabulous visit with the cattle rancher, who’s Black Angus are also a source of entertainment for the donkey boys..or is that the other way around?  Not everyone is as nice.  A young man barreled past spraying gravel and I made a mental note of that fella being a real jerk.  This is not even half the story as he stopped just ahead of us at a huge Challenger, which is an extremely large tractor with tracks instead of tires.  As we pulled up right beside him, he turned the darn thing on which kind of freaked out Galahad.  Then the idiot shoves it into gear throwing billowing clouds of dust as he roars into the field.   I was not a happy camper…and am still torked!  It really was Okay for Galahad to experience this… But what if I would have had one of the other two inexperienced donkey boys hooked with good ole Luc?

Today’s drive marked a momentous occasion that really makes me feel good.  I have now logged 126 hours of driving these two as a team….are you ready for this……we have now traveled a little over three hundred miles! Whoopee!

To commemorate this occasion I jotted down a few thoughts as to why I do this sort of thing! 


There are horses… lots of fancy horses from drafts to minis and everything in between.   That varied assortment extends into the world of mules…. With so many choices out there why would anyone in their right mind choose a donkey to drive?  Everyone knows they are unreasonable and hard to work with… Whell first off my friend… donkeys are not for everyone and if you decide you are to be owned by one and you like it, you’ll never go back to those ear-challenged ones.  Donkeys have a different perspective than a horse has on any given topic so one must readjust their training methods in order to become successful.  It tends to make one believe in the adage that a donkey is trained the way a horse should be!

Maybe one should explore the reasons for having donkeys in the first place.  There is the guard animal factor.  Donkeys do not appreciate having their domains invaded whether it is coyotes, deer, wild turkeys or tame kittens, it’s just not in their nature to share.  When you have donkeys, you pretty much only have donkeys inside the fence line, the rest of the world remains outside that boundary.

Maybe it’s because donkeys are so darn people friendly, they absolutely adore children and have an amazing tolerance for the disabled.  They crave personal one on one attention and have a tremendous desire to please.  Donkeys add a quiet touch of escapism to my world.  They put me into a state of mind where peace and quiet reigns.  When I am with them suddenly everything becomes “in the now” and I just surrender to their sight, sounds, smells and terrific company.  When we discuss private issues what is said in the pasture stays in the pasture!  Sometimes we just hang out together, they huddle around just so we can commune with each other and life becomes good again.  Why do you think gold prospectors of the 1800’s chose a burro to accompany them?

With such high IQ’s these animals are easily trained when one has the patience to go at their pace and show them exactly what needs done without boring them to death.  They love to get out and explore the world once they have built up their personal self confidence in the job at hand and have formed a trusting bond with their person.  It’s that trust that makes them so good to tolerate parade happenings or drive through crowds of slow moving people.  They just don’t seem to get overly excited by their surroundings when they know you will guide them safely thru any situation.  Driving is in their DNA today just as it has always been.

I drive donkeys to keep them trim and in great condition and it does not hurt my figure either.  All that harnessing and unharnessing and moving the vehicles about is great exercise.  Ground driving is more fun than just going for a walk, its way more challenging with a donkey ahead of you. All that ground work pays off in huge dividends whether it is riding or driving, it all starts with simple walks and adding commands. Driving gives one the incentive to wake up an hour or two early and head down the road before the sun warms everything up. Even drinking one less cup of coffee is not such a bad idea, it could tend to make one healthier if you’re not careful.

I also drive because of the harness and the equipment.  Learning what works best for the team and what this 58 year old woman can hitch “all by herself” has been a huge accomplishment.  Driving my team to a two wheeled cart means I can go off road trekking just about anywhere I want once the crops are off the fields.  That makes it fun for all to get away from the dusty gravel roads and into the fields where we are able to drive in and out different places.  We have looked over the edge of deep canyons sometimes with a creek running thru the bottom and cattle quietly grazing.  There is always a chance we’ll spot a herd of elk still in their beds or deer running nearby. Donkeys never miss a chance to watch wildlife, just be aware of what those radar ears are telling you and you’ll enjoy the wildlife as much as they do. 

Taking out the decorated buckboard for a parade is a real thrill.  For guests the four wheeled rubber tired vehicle is perfect.  Hitching to the country gig for pleasure driving truly exhibits how much class a handsome mammoth donkey has.  There’s always farm equipment that needs hitched to; a harrow, a plow, a sled to stack wood on, it’s a whole world of to-dos with the donkey boys out there.  Tandem, unicorn, four abreast and four up hitches are just another piece of the puzzle yet to be solved by the Teamdonk boys.  Following our 2011 blog will let you know if we manage to get these hitches accomplished.

Why do I drive donkeys rather than ride?  I actually do both but driving thrills me to the point of producing a huge sense of personal satisfaction.  More importantly driving is the most relaxing activity I do!  When I am behind the team my heart soars with the eagles, it sings with the songbirds perched on the electrical wires.  It’s crazy fun watching the hawks play their game of perching on the telephone pole just ahead until we almost arrive and then soaring off to the next one, never letting the boys catch up.  It gives me a true sense of the changing seasons as I watch the tender green fall wheat poking out of mother earth and eventually maturing into majestic golden rods ready for harvest. You notice the little things when driving.  

There is always an opportunity to stop and chat with the neighbors or take a passenger along for a great visit and a lasting memory.   I dream of driving season when winter is raging or the spring rains are falling, knowing that for a brief span of time every year I will be out there waving to people who courteously pass by.  I imagine they are wishing it was them riding along enjoying a fantastic looking pair of longears.  Yes, it is me out there driving a team of mammoth donkeys in North Central Idaho on the spectacular Camas Prairie and moving at a slower pace of life even if just for a brief moment in time.

Someone once told me that driving is a journey with our partners.  There is no destination, no ending point only our dreams, visions and hopes to help us move down the road to a true partnership.  Driving Teamdonk has become a journey, not a destination.

 Luc, Galahad… walk on boys, it’s driving time!


twodonks@mtida.net  ^..^
http://www.teamdonk.org/ (Website)
http://www.2010teamdonk.wordpress.com/ (Blog)
http://www.teamdonk.wordpress.com/ (2009 Blog)


One Response to “300 Miles under harness”

  1. Melvin and Sparkle Says:

    Juat checked in and found you up and running ! Glad to have you back!

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