Katie Schuur

Donkey People - I Have A Question.

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I just recently acquired a gelded donkey. Okay let me re-word that. TODAY I acquired a gelded donkey. His previous owners were keeping him in a dirt pen and were using him for "roping practice". He came to me a little on the thin side, however I am pretty certain that my pasture will fatten him up in no time. He is stand-offish and hasn't been worked with a whole lot. I need to find a way to gain his trust so that I could eventually walk right up to him in pasture, halter him, groom him and allow the farrier to trim/handle his feet. Not to mention the vet if and when the need arises.

I know a lot of people are not feeding donkeys grain, but I need to find a safe "reward" for having him come to me so I don't have to chase him down. I just want to be able to walk up to him in the pasture, pet him and walk away for now. Baby steps. Then once he's used to that I could work on introducing the halter. Can you please tell me what a safe "donkey treat" would be? I have heard that soooo many things that are good for horses are NOT good for donkeys such as carrots and wheat.

Edited by Rollin_after_a_bath

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Donkey's tend to be stand-offish as they are guardian animals and need to now you before they warm up to you. You can use just about any treat that you would use for a horse but, as with a horse, use them within reason. You are going to have to be careful re-introducing him to pasture if he has been dry-lotted.

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I have donkeys, luckily they're pretty tame [Crazy]

When I bought my Jennet, she was NOT tame, so I had work to do.

She was also bred, so I had limited time to get her trust before Banjo was born.

I would go out into her pen (fenced corral), and sit on a water tank or chair. I worked my way closer and closer over days. When I could touch her I would rub her chest, back, face and EARS!

It didn't take long for her to follow me around wanting her lovins.

My older donkey loves grain, but doesn't get any. My younger one will NOT eat from your hand, so the rubbing worked on him too (he became nasty after I gelded him).

Good luck, be patient, and take baby steps everyday to earn his trust.

Donkeys and Mules are highly intelligent. They thrive on your friendship and TRUST. If you lose that trust, you'll have to re-earn it. My donkeys love my family, they bray like crazy when they hear us come home from work.

I also was careful not to be too pushy with mine. They are also leary of new surroundings, so he may also need time to figure out whos who.

How is Tuff? Think it's time for an update [Question]

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You don't want to give grain to your donkey. They don't need it and it's too rich. Just give all he wants of good quality hay, No alfalfa tho.

As for treats, my Eartha had been roped and she was fine to walk up to in the pasture......so long as she had a halter on. Stupid me took it off. Donkeys will think they are caught as long as the halter stays on. Take it off and they believe they are free and will leave. We had to rope her to catch her again. She knew all about ropes. Would stand there and turn her head so the loop would not connect. Very intelligent.

Eartha would not eat treats AT ALL. Nope, nada, nothing.

I would do like Trails said, put him in a small corral and let him get used to you. Once he knows you're ok, you can do more and more with him.

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I've got a couple of questions for you.

Do you know if this donkey has ever had a halter on before? Or was he run through the shoots and roped? Has this donkey been handled in anyway? How old is he?

NO No No do not feed grain. Try apples slices, carrots ,grass, anything but grain.

Here's the deal with donkeys. They do not forget anything, ever, at anytime. They are ultra smart and extremely cautious

I got Virginia(Gin) when she was around 10 years and her job was to guard cattle. She had never been messed with except to run a shoot to get her shots like the rest of the cattle. It took me 6 months for her to allow me to stand next to her. Another 6 months to allow me to touch her. It takes a lot of time . Slow , slow , slow. If you think a horse takes patience, get a donkey and they will teach you the true meaning of the word "waiting".

So with that being said, I'll let you know that I've had Gin for 6 years, I can touch her all over. I can trim her feet when needed. BUT, Here's a big But... I can not halter her. She will not allow me to get anywhere near her with a halter. If she sees a rope.........she is gone so fast it'll make your head spin. Then it takes a while for her to trust me again. The halter thing, she still has me waiting that one out.

Good luck with your new boy. They are really love bugs when they get to trust you. Remember, slow slow slow, Don't get in a hurry. Take the time and it will be worth it.

Edited by J.R.&Gin

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I can't add to anything here! Patience is the key. If your donk has been worked with, he should come around. They are very intelligent and caustious, but they are also curious. Just sittiing and ignoring him should get him to approach you, then baby steps from there.

I have never gotten a mule to "join up" as some people do with horses, so a word of caution is you are considering a round pen session! That seems to be another way that mules and donkeys are very different than horses.

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Ditto Manes,

I have had a jennet donkey for many years. Do not give alfalfa and just give grass hay. They are not food driven and will not respond to treats. At least mine never has. She was very shy at first due to hardly ever being handled. Keep you gelding in a small pen and approach and retreat with a nice soft brush. They love attention!! Use affection instead of treats.

I'm not sure how your pasture is, but my donkey has to be limited on grazing especially in the spring and fall when the sugar is high. Pasture grass is just too rich and she developed laminitis. Remember in the wild donkeys live on scrub in the desert.

It took quite some time for her to totally trust me. Keep his halter on at first cuz manes is right, they think they are caught with it on. Mine turned totally feral without it. She is over that now, I can walk up to her with halter in hand and halter her and lead her to the barn.

It's just going to take time. Just go slow and take you time. He will come around.

Mine, at first, is still leery of strangers until they start petting her and she won't leave them alone.

Good luck, Heather

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I think that we all agreed that NO ALFALFA HAY!!

I made that mistake (had nothing else) and Dusty foundered on me. My boys are just pasture pets that guard out the coyotes and other strays.

I think many people think that donkeys are impossible to founder, that's not even close to the truth. I limit the time on pasture, and feed grass hay with NO GRAIN! Dusty acts like a drug addict if he gets a bite of Doc's grain!

But, they are broke to ride and are alot of fun. If I could get my donkey's personality into a horse, I'd have it in a heartbeat.

Like someone else said, it really depends on his experiences as to how friendly he'll be.

It may take a long time to get his trust or even be able to touch him if he hasn't been handled.

My Jennet was always roped or corraled to catch, she was terrified of people. It took almost a month to be able to pet her, luckily she responded to my rubbing and love quickly.

My older donkey will come running when he sees me, can't wait for his hug and to have his ears rubbed. I usually keep mine apart from the horses, but since I added a new horse this summer, I had to put my husband's gelding with the donkeys.

We are waiting for pictures [Question]

Congrats too!!!

Donkeys and mules are amazing animals.

Edited by trails4me

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Thank you all for your wonderful and helpful responses :) As far as what I have been told, this donkey is around 5 years old and was mainly run through the chutes as something to rope.... I have found that because of such he is terrified of ropes and hates them with a passion. I was made aware of this when I walked out to my horse in the pasture with a lead rope, and the donkey made it clear in no uncertain terms that the sight of the lead rope ALONE was the scariest thing he'd ever seen. He has never worn a halter, but after simply showing him one he didn't have the immediate "i hate that thing" reaction like he did with the lead rope. I did not try or even attempt to put it on him. The extent of his handling would be a rub on the forehead when you are able to coax him over with a bucket. Even then, the rub-down would only last as long as it takes the donkey to take a bite of hay and then step back. The hay in the bucket wasn't enticing enough to get him to take another bite and risk being "touched" again, so I allowed him to walk away satisified that he at least got that close to me.

I wish my camera worked....... I will be sure to post pictures of donkey and the others as soon as my camera works again :)

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Try bread as a treat.

Friend of mine has donkeys and all he feeds them is bread and hay. The bread he gets from the local grocery store, it's their leftover sub rolls at the end of the day -- so it's free. It's always fresh bread, never feed them anything that is old and moldy.

I know some people might come undone to hear that, but he feeds all his animals bread. Donkeys, ponies, mules, goats...they all get bread. Grain is a treat. Heard someone tell me once that bread causes colic. I asked him about this, he said in 20 years of feeding bread, he's never had an animal colic.

But if you think about it, what's in bread? Wheat and grains.

Edited by Mels

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Blackjack gets sweet feed every day, about a pound 2x a day. Never had a problem. He's on pasture, but not rich pasture either. I will ditto keeping him in a small pen until he gets used to you. I do use sweet feed and horse cookies to tame mine. Works wonders. I don't think a small amount of sweet feed and/or horse treats will hurt him.

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