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New donkey, any advice?

Discussion in 'Behaviors & Handling Techniques - Horses, Mules, a' started by Irisshiller, Mar 26, 2017.

  1. Mar 29, 2017
    Irisshiller

    Irisshiller Chillin' with the herd

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    Hi Baymule, thanks for your suggestion of the nose chain. If all else fails I will have to try that - if I can find something like that here... We still haven't found a properly fitting halter for her (which probably contributes to the running off problem) she wears an adjusted halter for a big horse. Surprising that in a country with so many donkeys, you can't find any donkey gear! I guess most donkeys belong to Bedouins, who use straw twine for everything :/

    You're right that I need to not let her walk all over me. I've been very careful because she was unknown to me. I feel more comfortable with her now (and she with me).

    I'll keep you informed :)
     
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  2. Mar 29, 2017
    Bunnylady

    Bunnylady True BYH Addict

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    Before I went to a stud chain, I'd try just looping the lead rope over her nose, Better yet, I'd make/buy a rope halter. There are videos on YouTube showing how to make them; with a little tweaking, you can get a custom fit for any size equine. Rope halters have a bit more "bite" when an animal pushes against them, so they tend to respect a rope halter more than the wide nylon webbing type.

    As for locking up and refusing - when it comes to a dead on, forward or backward pulling contest, you will never win against a donkey. If you know there is nothing to fear, and they are just being difficult, the best trick I know is to use what leverage you have, and go sideways. When I first got my mini mule, we went for walks a lot. She likes to explore, but there were times when she simply didn't want to leave her buddy. I quickly learned that pushing/pulling her sideways would get her feet unlocked, and I'd get a few steps forward before she'd try to lock up again. It's hard not to let them win a battle of wills (or "won'ts," in this case) but they are sensitive animals, and they know when you are cross. I'd just laugh at her, tell her, "the sooner you give in, the sooner we get back," and pull her or push her sideways. Some times we'd go weaving down the road like a couple of drunks.:rolleyes:Sometimes I'd turn her in tight, tight little circles, until she decided that going in almost any direction (as long as it was straight) was better than this . . . and of course, when she did go when I said go and stop when I said stop, she'd get a piece of carrot. I always had slices of carrot in my pocket (some people call them "carrot coins"); I joke about my 'coin operated mule.'
     
  3. Mar 29, 2017
    AClark

    AClark Loving the herd life

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    One thing that works for horses that try to take off with you leading them is the equivalent of a "one rein stop" - with a horse that bolts when you're on them, you take 1 rein and pull it to your knee - same principal applies to leading, if she goes to take off, pull her head toward you and try to make her turn in a circle. Mostly, they can't run forward with their head turned, though I have seen some horses that can, so I imagine a donkey can too. You can't win a battle of strength with a donkey or horse, but you have a better shot when making circles.

    Bay's suggestion of a stud chain is good too, combine the two and I'd bet the behavior stops.
    Back feet kicking problem...I'd use a rope. A big soft cotton rope, there are diagrams online how to run it around the back foot and up to the halter. Basically this puts pressure on her head every time she kicks out, and the more she kicks, the more pressure there is - they stop that because it's uncomfortable and learn that if they want the pressure released, they can't kick out and have to behave.
     
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  4. Mar 29, 2017
    AClark

    AClark Loving the herd life

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  5. Mar 29, 2017
    Latestarter

    Latestarter Novice; "Practicing" Animal Husbandry Golden Herd Member

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    Wow... lots of great input/advice! Hope you'll let us know what you try and what works for you!
     
  6. Mar 30, 2017
    Irisshiller

    Irisshiller Chillin' with the herd

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    Hi there, great, thanks very much all! I have some good ideas to work with now! I have tried to make a rope halter but it just disintegrated into a mess, guess I'm not very good at making knots :) I've seen rope halters for donkeys for sale on the internet but thought they looked kind of fragile for a pulling donkey, she is as strong as a bull :) If she gets her head there is no stopping her, her neck is like iron. But you've given me good ideas! I will try an extra rope around her head/nose and hold her really close to her head, and doing the circles/zigzag thing. I will try it as soon as someone is free to accompany me!

    That Scotch hobble thing sounds like an excellent idea! No risk of anyone being kicked. I'm only worried about her going crazy when her legs are tied - she has old rope scars on her legs so that can't be a pleasant memory. This hobbling thing is exactly what the Bedouins do to keep their animals from running off in open spaces! I've seen it used on camels, goats, horses, donkeys... It always looks extremely uncomfortable to me, but they use thin ropes that cut the skin. If you use non-painful rope I suppose it can be a good tool.

    Some days ago, she did something new - blocking my path when I am pushing a wheelbarrow full of hay to the rabbit cages- I guess cause she wants to eat it now, not later. After she did it twice I made her back up and tied her. She hasn't done it again since, she now waits her turn. Small victory :)

    I will let you know how it went as soon as I can get someone to help me! Thanks a lot, very much appreciated!!
     
  7. Mar 30, 2017
    Irisshiller

    Irisshiller Chillin' with the herd

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    Just an update! I couldn't get any help today, but I was impatient to try your methods so I just went and did it by myself! :) (Story of my life, that's how I find myself here responsible for dozens of animals from guppies to donkeys, LOL)

    I tried do do the hobble trick but had to give up - she got really antsy just seeing the rope going anywhere near her back legs. She does NOT want her legs tied! I started fearing for my kneecaps so gave up. I will try that when someone else can distract her with rabbit food!

    Then I took her out for a short walk with a halter and lead rope and a thinner rope looped over her nose and through the halter rings. And it worked fabulously!! In the space of ten minutes, she tried to bolt three times, and each time a few firm pulls on the halter and rope and "NO!" was enough to stop her. I swear she looked surprised! And so did I!! Because it isn't just running - she does a funny kind of jump front-back-front-back while trying to shake me off. I was just as surprised as her that I managed to stop her! Each time she stopped, I let her eat grass as a reward. She also went back into the gate without protest - usually she goes on strike just before the gate, until I get the rabbit food out.

    So thank you all, you're fantastic!! You really made my day! I see now that I've been doing this walk thing all wrong since the beginning - I didn't mind her deciding where to go, because I wasn't going anywhere in particular. I let her pull me along. That probably made her think that outside the gate, she's in control! No wonder she behaves well inside but turns into a firecracker when she's out.

    I can't help but admiring her cleverness though!! I mean who can blame her! ;) But I'm really positive now that we can address this. The back legs - kicking thing is a different problem I think - it's brought on by fear of her legs being restrained. I might need help from a more experienced person for that.

    Anyway - I don't think she means to hurt us, she's a sweet girl really! :)
     
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  8. Mar 30, 2017
    Latestarter

    Latestarter Novice; "Practicing" Animal Husbandry Golden Herd Member

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    Donkeys can be insanely smart and they have superb memory. If you slowly work toward what your trying to achieve, so she learns that it won't hurt her, it should help her with trust issues. Glad you surprised her and yourself! :D
     
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  9. Mar 30, 2017
    Baymule

    Baymule Herd Master

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    Since she is scared of anything near her back legs, I don't think I would add to that, fear with hobbles. Just broom her. What's "broom her" you ask? Tie her up close and introduce her to a broom, VERY slowly. Let her sniff it until she becomes bored with it. Do not raise it over her head or back, keep it below her withers height. Touch her neck with it, it's ok to hold the broom close to you or at the end of the handle, whichever way she is most comfortable with. When she is bored with you rubbing her neck, rub her chest. When she is bored with her chest being rubbed, slowly rub down to her knees. If she gets jumpy, go back to a "safe" place until she settles down, then slowly rub the broom down her front legs again, until you can "broom" up and down her front legs. This is best done over the course of several days, which gives her time to think about it. ALWAYS end on a positive. If she likes having her chest or shoulders rubbed with the broom, end there.

    Every day, start back with the first place you broomed her. Each day, add another spot on her, her sides, her belly, you might start getting some resistance on her belly, so go slow and do not move away from a spot with her freaking out. Rub her belly directly behind her front legs the first time until she is bored with it. Divide her belly into sections in your head and broom a section each day. I think you are getting the hang of this now......

    On to her rear parts......broom the sides of her flanks. This might be a tickle spot or a sensitive spot, or she might even like it. Broom her hip. This is where you are happy to have a long handle on the broom! If she kicks, don't stop, keep brooming that spot until she is bored with it. It is ok to go back to the last section you broomed before you broomed her on the "new" spot that is making her kick, but not for very long-go back to brooming her in the new spot until she no longer kicks. Each day, broom a little farther, making sure not to stop because she kicks. If you stop, she wins and will continue to kick. If you broom her until she stops kicking, you win and she becomes better behaved.

    Then comes the brooming all up and down her back legs. Broom her from the top of her tail to her hooves. She may fight, kick, and throw a fit, but do not stop until she stops fighting. Then praise her, pet her, let her know that she did good. Then broom her again. Do this every day for a week.

    Once you can broom her hind legs and feet with no kicking, then it is time to try with your hands. Slowly run your hand down her leg, a little at a time. Stop, scratch her favorite spot for a reward, then run your hand a little father down her leg. If she kicks at you, slap her butt and yell NO! Then get the broom and broom up and down both legs, between her legs, until she stops kicking. Stop for the day. Next day, same thing, run your hand down her leg until she tries to kick, then repeat the above. Do this until you can lift her foot.

    End each training session on a positive. End each session with something she likes, like scratching in her favorite spot.

    I bought a donkey with curled up hooves. He fought like a demon on getting his hooves clipped, and brooming really helped. He finally even recognized the farrier and would practically lift his hooves to get them trimmed. I even used a lunge whip with the whip part cut off and tied a plastic bag on the end of the long "stick" part of the whip. I rubbed the plastic bag all over my donkey, between front and back legs, under the belly, over the back, under and over his neck and over his head. It took a little while to train him to stand for the plastic bag, but it sure did help to gentle him down.

    A donkey thinks with both sides of their brain. So if you do something on one side of her body, it doesn't mean that she got it on the other side. You have to do both sides for her to understand. If you broom her left shoulder, then you must broom the right shoulder also. If you broom one side of her neck until she is bored with it, then you have to broom the other side of her neck until she is bored with it. And so on....

    I am very happy for both of you that the leading is going much better and it is successful.
     
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  10. Mar 31, 2017
    Irisshiller

    Irisshiller Chillin' with the herd

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    Hi Baymule, thanks for your detailed explanation! It sounds like a good idea. The only problem is that she accepts being brushed down her back legs - it's only when I run my hand down her leg that she kicks. I swear she can read my mind and knows when I'm planning to hold and lift her foot, LOL! What I really need is an extendable hand to stay out of kicking range! :D

    I get what you're saying though - she kicks, I back off so now she has learned that kicking works. I think I will try the brooming anyway and see what she does. Her hooves look fine now but one day she will need a farrier visit and I don't want him to have to fight with her, that's just rude :)

    Thanks a lot for sharing your experience, much appreciated!
     
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