What's New: Donkey Diary

WDD After The Winter Break 3 29 21 31

WRANGLER’S DONKEY DIARY: After the Winter Break: 3-29-21

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Wrangler is such a goof ball! Because Wrangler would lock up in front of the Tack Barn and not want to walk over the grate, I got smart and learned to take Chasity to the Tack Barn first. Then, he didn’t even notice the grate and walked right in! However, he gets pretty rambunctious about waiting his turn. I could lead them both at once, but he needs to learn to be by himself with me sometimes…and BEHAVE! When I first got Wrangler, he would get excited like this and then just try run over me when I opened the stall door. Through repetition and humane discipline, I changed his behavior with Behavior Modification, a systematic reward system of training. To be successful, one needs to target the behaviors that need to change, set up the equine for success and promptly reward the positive behaviors as they occur. AND, you need a specific, consistent and humane way to stop bad behaviors in their tracks when they occur. We work on the premise of POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT, but we also need to learn how to use NEGATIVE REINFORCEMENT if one does not want to be hurt, or even killed, by these VERY LARGE and STRONG animals!

The negative reinforcement that I use really works. When he got aggressive the first time, I raised my hand like a stop sign and when he did not stop, he got a firm slap to the side of his mouth as I said, “NO!” as loud as I could. I promptly raised my hand like a stop sign in front of his face again after which he started to turn back around. I quickly took a handful of oats from my fanny pack, took a step forward and offered him the oats. He did a double-take and came back for the oats to which I replied, “Thank you for giving me my space!” Going forward, he still occasionally gets too aggressive, but he always stops when I put my hand up like a stop sign in front of his face and takes a step back. He won’t need to be slapped again since this was done correctly the first time. He remembers!

As soon as I open the stall door now, Wrangler immediately stops his antics and becomes a gentleman that can be rewarded. He stands stock still while I put on the halter and then drops his head at my shoulder. I hold his lead rope in my left hand while pointing in the direction of travel with my right hand. I tell him to “Walk on” and look down to see what foot he is leading with and follow his front legs, step for step. We get IN SYNC with each other and I lead him that way from the time he leaves his pen to the time he returns. I do this the very same way with ALL of my equines ALL of the time. Consistency breeds familiarity and compliance.

Donkeys have issues with chronic runny eyes and noses. The way to stave off any infection is to clean their eyes, nostrils and ears with a damp towel daily. This also encourages them to accept handling around their face in general.

Donkeys are inherently desert animals and can severely founder or colic on lush feed. Symptoms of too rich feed will be manifested in the hooves as abscesses, crusty growth, collapsed heels and frogs, or just plain stress rings. Wrangler has abnormally small rear hooves and it is important that his core strength is developed in good postural balance to make sure the weight distribution is even so none of his hooves are carrying too much weight for his size.

Wrangler is rather flat-withered and needs a saddle that will “hug” his body, leaving ample room for his spine.

I initially tighten the girth snug, but not too tight. The crupper is adjusted so the tail lies comfortably.

I gently press on the bars of his jaw to open his mouth for the bit and carefully bring the crown of the bridle over his ears, protecting them with my hand. Being polite and considerate will get much more cooperation from your equine.

I adjust all the straps on the bridle so it is comfortable, paying special attention around the ears. The drop noseband helps him learn to hold the bit properly. I always gradually tighten the girth over several times.

The walk to the Round Pen is still IN SYNC…all three of us! Wrangler’s “Elbow Pull” postural restraint is adjusted and he is reminded how to release the tension.

Wrangler’s posture has greatly improved over three years and has given him added strength, endurance, stamina and animation to his gaits. He defies the slow and pokey characterization of donkeys in general! He’s a true athlete!

Wrangler and Chasity do a very nice reverse in sync with each other. Wrangler resumes the working walk.

Five rotations at walk, five rotations at trot, reverse and repeat in the other direction. We do 3 sets with a 3-minute break in between. Rewards are in order with every halt. With every halt, Wrangler is asked to rebalance and square up!

Then I begin riding with three rotations at trot in each direction. I carry a riding crop in case he needs a little encouragement to keep going. If he gets too tired, we call it quits and will do more another day.

I always end the sessions with a halt and rein back. Then I dismount and reward him again for a job well done!

Back in the Tack Barn at the work station, I carefully remove the bridle. I always hold the halter crown strap in my right hand while removing the bridle. I then slip the bridle onto my left arm, pick up the nose band of the halter in my left hand, bring it over his nose and buckle the halter. This way, if he pulls away, I still have my arms (and halter) around his neck to hold on to him.

We make our way back to the barn and Wrangler waits patiently while Chasity enters the stall first (Ladies first, you know!). He follows her sedately into the stall and they both turn around to me to have their halters removed and to receive their rewards. Wrangler “suggests” to me politely that I should hurry with Chasity’s halter and get to the rewards…QUICKLY! He’s still hungry!!! Silly boy!!!


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WRANGLER’S DONKEY DIARY: Riding in the Open Arena: 10-6-20

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A lot of people tell me they have problems when their jennets or molly mules are in heat. And, they expect the behaviors of their gelding to change drastically when they are castrated. In my experience, it really doesn’t make much difference if you have a fair and equitable management and training program. When their bodies are managed in a healthy way and they are consistently taught good manners, they will be willing and able to perform well regardless. I always approach training in a fair and equitable manner that does not throw too much at them all at once so as to avoid anxiety. Wrangler and Chasity both appreciate this (as did my jack, stallion and other females). It wasn’t until AFTER this lesson that I realized that Chasity was in heat and Wrangler was EXCITED about it! This program is a slow, logical and sequential approach that the equines truly appreciate and respond to positively no matter their mood. The results are miraculous!

Today, we were to begin with an interview about donkeys. Wrangler watched intently while Robbie wired me with the microphone. Then we went to the center of the Round Pen where I set him up and asked Wrangler to stand quietly while we did the interview, and he did what he was told. Such a good boy!

After the interview, Wrangler did his exercises of five rotations at walk, trot and even a little bit of canter. He is getting really good about stretching his spine from head to tail and his flexibility is greatly improved.

Since Wrangler had previously bolted with the lunge line in the dressage arena, I thought another lesson might be in order. I asked for the halt. Then we went to the open arena where I tied the end of the lunge line to the his bit with four inches to spare that I ran under his chin and snapped to the bit ring on the other side. This would prevent the bit from being pulled through his mouth.

I first lunged him to the right at walk and trot, halted him and changed the line to the other side. I gave a slight pull on the lunge line as his outside front leg was in suspension as a cue to keep him on the arc of the circle.

Wrangler did very well, so I stopped him and he stood quietly while I rolled up the lunge line. He followed me when I put away the line and stood still again while I prepared to mount.

Once mounted, the reward was in order followed by a rein back. He was offering more steps in each new lesson with only very slight squeeze/releases from my little fingers.

We did a very well-balanced turn on the haunches and made our way into the Hourglass Pattern. Wrangler proceeded forward with an energized working walk.

Wrangler remained erect in his body carriage as we made our way through the pattern, bending his body appropriately through his rib cage to the arcs of the turns and moving in good posture on straight lines.

Wrangler remained soft in his response to my hands, seat and legs. Donkeys are notorious for leaning against pressure, so it was imperative that I kept myself relaxed and “giving” to his movement.

Wrangler’s internal pendulum kept him moving through the Hourglass Pattern in a very nice balance, first through the pattern one way, across the diagonal and again in the opposite direction. My inside leg at the girth on the turns helped  him to stay erect while my outside leg was well back to support the bend and encourage impulsion.

Wrangler obediently executed a square halt followed by a nice rein back with the lightest of cues from my fingertips. When you are patient and spend the time to train your equine this way, it makes a world of difference in their gaits and produces an incredibly smooth ride!

Wrangler stood quietly during the dismount and went through the gate perfectly! It was truly a resistance-free lesson! That is what you will get when you spend time on accuracy and wait for speed to come later.

Wrangler and Chasity both stood stock still while I got Chasity untied, then we all walked happily in sync together back to the Tack Barn! Leading them together is never a problem! The boundaries to good behavior have been established from the very beginning. They both know clearly what is expected!


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WRANGLER’S DONKEY DIARY: Riding the Hourglass Pattern: 9-29-20

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There are differences in jacks, geldings and jennets, but I have found them all to have their individual redeeming qualities. Wrangler is carefully surveying the environment while Chasity walks obediently at my shoulder. Wrangler is much more playful while Chasity is sedate. My jack, Little Jack Horner, was always an energetic, enthusiastic, fully-charged male with extraordinary ability! What they ALL have in common is their exceptional intelligence, energy conservation and strong sense of self-preservation. What has produced the most success in the management and training of all my equines has been a logical, sequential and equitable approach, executed with a polite attitude, good manners, kindness, consideration, respect and a fair reward system. If I want the best from them, I have to set a good example myself. Chasity and Wrangler politely go through the gate into the area where each will not be interrupted and will patiently wait their turn.

Wrangler is now light in the bridle in the Round Pen and ready to begin work in the Hourglass Pattern in the open arena. Since I have to use both the Round Pen and the open arena, I tie Chasity in the obstacle area so she will not need to be moved until it is her turn. Then Wrangler and I proceed to the Round Pen for his warm-up exercises where he will lunge five rotations in each direction at walk, trot and canter in both directions with a reverse in between. Too much shuffling around can cause anxiety. I prefer that they both remain calm and obedient, so I set them up for success.

Wrangler politely accepts my adjustment on his bridle, “Elbow Pull,” saddle placement and girth, then proceeds forward at the walk in good equine posture. His “Elbow Pull” remains loose and is only there as a reminder in the Round Pen and as a support should he need it when I add my extra weight under saddle in the open arena.

Wrangler trots obediently upon the verbal command and after five rotations transitions to canter. He is now up to three rotations at canter in each direction. I will add one more rotation in each direction with each new lesson.  

I slow him to a walk, do a well balanced reverse and he then proceeds once more at the walk for five rotations.

Wrangler picks up the trot promptly upon request. After five rotations, he canters for three more rotations. I will add one more next time. His overall balance at canter is slowly improving with each new lesson!

Improvement comes rapidly when you don’t try to get too much too quickly. Wrangler is eager and ready to be ridden!

I ask Wrangler to come through the gate and he turns back to me to receive his reward. Then I mount and give him another reward from his back. I truly appreciated his well-practiced good manners!

Once mounted, I ask for the familiar rein back and we then proceed forward into the Hourglass Pattern. Wrangler stays light in the bridle and takes gentle directional nudges from my calves in sync with the direct rein cues.

Wrangler remains upright in his balance, bends through his rib cage through the arcs in the pattern, and halts squarely and promptly upon command.

Preparing your equine with PLENTY of groundwork, the right kinds of exercise and use of the “Elbow Pull” to help build his core strength adequately in good posture to support a rider BEFORE you get on makes all the difference in the world! You are building a new HABITUAL way of moving.

Wrangler is strong in his balance, light in the bridle and promptly responsive to the cues from my seat, legs and hands. He halts squarely and reins back easily when asked.

When their balance is not constantly interrupted, they only need a weekly workout and can practice their posture efficiently in turnout each day on their own! If you WANT to work more, you can, but always be ready to leave one day of rest between 30-40 minute workout days. I always want my equines to ENJOY being with me and not get sour!


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WRANGLER’S DONKEY DIARY: Fine Tuning Wrangler’s Response: 9-22-20

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Wrangler always eagerly awaits his weekly lessons! When things are predictable and are not “drilled,” your equine will look forward to his time with you. I always try to keep lessons short (30-40 minutes), done in a logical order and consistent in the task executions. For instance, we always walk the same way, with the lead in my left hand, with a loose connection to his head to encourage self-carriage, repeated verbal commands and I walk with my feet in sync with his front legs. The gates are always executed the same way. He is rewarded with crimped oats from my fanny pack when halted and waits patiently while I close and latch the gate. Even though Chasity is tied outside of the Round Pen, Wrangler’s attention is 100% on me. Minimizing distractions by being consistent with the way we do things will create a solid base of habitually good behavior.

Wrangler continues to stand quietly while I make sure his saddle is centered in the middle of his back and the tension on the crupper is adequate, but not too tight. He should be able to relax his tail. I check both girths to make sure they are snug but not too tight (the front girth tighter than the rear girth), adjust the tension on the “Elbow Pull” and make sure the fleece at the poll is centered to prevent undue chafing when he has to “lean” on the “Elbow Pull.” The “Elbow Pull” will not tie his head down, but it will prevent him from raising his head so high that he inverts his neck and spine. It will assure that he is in a good balanced equine posture during his workout.

I first ask Wrangler to walk for five rotations before asking him to trot. Occasionally, he will be so full of energy that he offers the trot first. If he trots, I just adjust and let him do five rounds of trot first and let him walk five rotation afterwards. To start, I only asked for walk and trot until Wrangler began to break into canter  by himself. I then added one rotation at canter after the five rotations at trot before allowing him to walk.

I will add one more rotation at canter in each of the upcoming lessons. Then his warm-ups will consist of five rotations of each…walk, trot, canter, walk…then a reverse, and the same progression in the opposite direction before mounting him. He should always slow to a walk before executing the reverse so it is done in good postural balance.

This will begin to improve his balance and build his bulk muscle symmetrically.

After checking both girths one more time, Wrangler stands stock still as I mount him. I offer his oats on both sides as I did in our first mounting session in the Tack Barn. This is to make sure I keep his attention on ME! The oats are taken politely. He fully understands that these are NOT treats, only REWARDS for good behavior.

Once mounted and and seated in balance, I ask Wrangler for a rein back with a few more steps than he had done in his previous lesson. He responds nicely to the squeeze/release motion of my lttle fingers.

I keep a very light contact with the bit as we proceed forward. We add circles at random points along the rail to add variety to the workout and keep it interesting. We work on staying erect while he bends to the arc of the circles through his rib cage.

Wrangler’s “Elbow Pull” remains consistently loose as he walks leisurely along the rail and executes the “S” turns for changes in direction.

Wrangler gives Chasity a wink as he passes the spot where she is tied along the rail. She is proud of how well her “beau” is doing and watches intently! Wrangler is soft, flexible and elastic in the bridle. This is exactly what I want from him. We will be able to graduate to a larger area next week!

Wrangler spotted a jogger coming toward us along the road and didn’t quite finish his square halt, but halted nevertheless. I prudently waited for the jogger to go by before I asked him for a rein back and he complied easily.

I think too many of us get in too much of a hurry to RIDE and forget that our equine athletes need the same consideration from us that human athletes get from their coaches. They need to do exercises that prepare their bodies for the “game.”  When they are adquately prepared, their skeleton is symmetrically supported, joints are able to operate as intended and do not develop arthritis from uneven wear of the cartilage, and the internal organs can function in good health at maximum capacity. When we are patient and take the time to prepare our equines properly, there is much to be gained…a happy and willing equine companion that is capable of performing to their optimum ability. Training really CAN be safe and resistance-free! Being herdbound is not an issue because they really enjoy being with YOU as much as, if not more than, they enjoy being with their equine friends!

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WRANGLER’S DONKEY DIARY: Wrangler’s First Ride: 9-15-20

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Wrangler has now completed his preparation for efficiently carrying a rider while staying in good equine posture with adequate core strength. Doing these kinds of logical and sequential exercises in a consistent manner makes all the difference in an equine’s physical development and mental attitude. Groundwork needn’t be boring for either you or your donkey. Doing these exercises the same way, every time, creates an unbreakable bond and deep understanding of what is expected between you. Before mounting your donkey in the Round Pen, there is one more interim step that needs to be done to keep your donkey standing still and his attention on you as you mount him. In the grooming area, I will mount the donkey and have him take oats from both sides of his body as we stand there. Then we will go to the Round Pen, do the preparatory lunging he has done before and mount in the same fashion. This will set up your donkey for success!

By now, your donkey should know his verbal commands and will not be complelled to just take off at the trot. He will walk leisurely along the perimeter of the Round Pen until you ask for the trot. He will remain in good posture and keep the “Elbow Pull” loose throughout his workout. He will have a rounded topline and overall balance that can easily support the added weight of a rider. Wrangler is doing beautifully!

After five rotations at walk and five rotations at trot, I ask Wrangler to slow to a walk. I then turn away from him in the opposite direction he is traveling and step in front of him to encourage him to reverse.

Then I send him to the rail for five more rotations at walk and then five at the trot. Wrangler is relaxed and moving freely forward. He is obviously strong in his balance and ready to be ridden.

I ask Wrangler to “Whoa,” reward him for his stellar performance and ask him to stand four-square with equal weight over all four feet in preparation for mounting. I do not want to throw him off balance as I pull my weight into the saddle. Most equines will move if they feel a loss of balance. I politely mount and settle my seat easily in the saddle. I do not rudely plop myself down on his back.

As soon as I was mounted, I balanced myself in the saddle and offered rewards for standing still from both sides. My first move while mounted was the rein back. This would get his attention off bolting and put his mind on a task he can easily do. He is then rewarded again and happy with his accomplishment.

We walked for two rotations tracking to the left and then did an “S” turn through the middle of the Round Pen to change directions. I paid special attention while bending his body through the “S” turn to keep Wrangler’s body erect. I encouraged him to bend through his rib cage to make the turn smooth, forward and fluid.

We did two more rotations at the walk, then I asked for a balanced and correctly executed reverse. It is important to pay attention to the minute details while working slowly. This will promote accuracy later when you speed things up.

I walked Wrangler into a smooth and balanced halt. I made sure my own body was over the center of balance and that my hands and legs were even on both sides. I waited quietly for a few second to allow him to settle.

Then I asked Wrangler for a rein back with a pull/release action on both reins, but added a little more alternate pressure from one side to the other in sync with the front legs that were coming backwards. Wrangler did very well for his first riding session, so I thought it best to quit while we were ahead. It is easier for your donkey to learn when you keep lessons short and productive. Drilling for hours never really works…they just get tired and can’t really listen or perform well.

Although Chasity waits calmly while she is tied and Wrangler is working, he has to play with the artificial flowers in the planter when it is his turn to be tied. Next time, I will remove the temptation of the flowers! After Chasity finished her workout, we all made our way back to the work station. It was another successful and enjoyable training session for all of us!

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WRANGLER’S DONKEY DIARY: Wrangler’s Runaway: 9-1-20

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Wrangler has been a happy camper since we acquired Chasity. Before that, he was so rambunctious that there was no one else that could be in turnout with him and I had limited time to work with him. He and Chasity are the same size and the same age, so they do get along very well. I still have to make training judgments when working with them. He helped me to get Chasity moving freely in the Round Pen during her first lessons, but lately, he has been annoying her while lunging which does not allow her to relax in the “Elbow Pull” like she should. And, he doesn’t relax either because he is too busy showing off to her now! So, I had to modify my approach. I still take them out together and just tie one up while I am working the other. I find that this works very well. Wrangler is back to moving in a dignified manner!

I can say that showing off to her did have its benefits. It developed his agility and his eagerness to move more forward and into a canter. When working him alone, I did not have to tie his reins to the saddle to keep his head up as I did when I was working him with her, but I did leave them on the bridle and secured them around his neck in case I did need them. His trot was very nice this time, so I decided to actually give the command to “Canter” and Wrangler willingly complied!

As Wrangler passed Chasity, he did occasional do a little crow-hop to acknowledge her, but mostly he stayed in good balanced posture and exhibited core strength with a lot of agility and flexibility. I used to think I needed to tire my animals to make them behave, but I have since found that when I pay attention to their physical development as well as the tasks I want them to do they are much happier and willing to comply. I PREPARE them for performance and bad behaviors decrease exponentially because I make them FEEL good! Good behavior is ALWAYS rewarded!

Wrangler decided to spook at a small branch that was on the ground, so I picked it up and we played with it! Then we got Chasity after her turn at lunging and made our way to the dressage arena.

Although Wrangler does tend to get a bit distracted when I have Chasity along, he does stay in sync with my steps most of the time. This is important in order to have their full attention.

This is Wrangler’s first lunge line lesson in the open, so I began with the short line as I usually do, but when he circled around me, he got to the point where he was facing Chasity and bolted toward her!

Apparently, Wrangler did not want to jump the fence, so he headed for the opening in the fence and then ran around the dressage arena perimeter. I just let go of the lines and watched him as he ran. I stayed where I was and assessed his movement while he got his “jollies” out!

He got halfway around and decided he wanted to go back toward Chasity. I guess he is not a confident jumper because he slowed down and carefully WALKED over the fence…in good balance and then cantered in balance in her direction!

I blocked him from going to Chasity and he darted to the left and toward the other end of the dressage arena. I called his name and asked him to come back…and he did…at a full gallop!

He thought about running around me, but decided a reward was a much better idea! Chasity was impressed with his performance and so was HE! I was just happy that Wrangler had decided to go back to work!

So, we repeated the process and he did nicely tracking to the left and halted quietly upon command. I did not let the line out very far. We would add that step the next time. I rewarded his success!

We did, however, do the same thing in the opposite direction, and again, I did not press my luck and kept the line shortened and controlled. Next, Wrangler would get his ground driving lesson in the open arena…another first.

I employed my Ranch Manager, Chad, as an assistant to make certain that things did not get out of control. I wanted to set Wrangler up for success. He was just perfect through the Hourglass Pattern and over the ground rails in the middle of the pattern.

After tracking through the pattern in one direction with the halts and rein backs in their designated spots between the cones, then crossing the diagonal and completing it the same pattern in the other direction, Wrangler did a perfect halt and rein back, and was amply rewarded for his success! It was time to quit!

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WRANGLER’S DONKEY DIARY: MORE LUNGING & GROUND DRIVING: 8-4-20

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Wrangler is wondering why Augie and Spuds, the mini donkeys are here. He is usually worked with Chasity… just the two of them! Wrangler is big on being the center of attention and stands quietly while I put on his surcingle instead of his English saddle this time. He is sure something is up, but he doesn’t exactly know what it might be just yet!

Wrangler and Chasity are now getting REALLY GOOD at being led together and stay in sync with my steps. They negotiate the gate easily and obediently. This is how well things can go when you are clear and consistent about the way that you do things. The animals then know what to expect and can comply without anxiety.

I led Augie and Spuds to the Round Pen and tied them up outside so they could watch Wrangler and Chasity while they were lunging. I thought maybe I would be able to lunge all four of them together if things went well. When they have someone to watch, my animals learn to stand still when tied. They know it will soon be their turn.

Wrangler immediately noticed the mini donkeys and wondered why they were there, but when asked, I regained his attention to business. Chasity walked off to practice while I adjusted Wrangler’s “Elbow Pull.”

Wrangler stood quietly while I made some adjustments and asked him to flex at his poll to make sure it was not too restrictive. Then I sent him to thr rail for lunging. He went quietly forward in a nice working walk.

When asked, Wrangler and Chasity moved into a smart working trot. Chasity is getting better with her posture and will soon be able to keep the “Elbow Pull” loose throughout the entire workout like Wrangler does. It takes time to develop that kind of core strength in good balance!

I added the drive lines to Wrangler after successful lunging while Chasity stood by and watched. He was a bit hard to turn in his last lessons, but this time his turns were much improved. He stayed very light in my hands and moved at the touch of a finger. I made sure to use the verbal commands “Gee” (go right) and “Haw” (go left). It makes a huge difference!

Wrangler stayed calm as we walked around the Round Pen doing an occasional “S” turn through the middle to change directions.

Wrangler was much improved from his last lesson! I don’t “drill” them until they get it right. That would just make them tired and cranky…then they do not learn. I spend about 20-30 minutes on their lessons and quit when they have made an honest attempt. Wrangler came into a nice quiet halt and was rewarded.

Wrangler did a much better rein back than he had before and offered many more steps on a very light rein! I was extremely pleased with him! It was time to quit with him. I tied him outside the Round Pen so he could watch the others do their workouts…and learn to stay quietly tied… which he did!


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WRANGLER’S DONKEY DIARY: Lunge Line Lessons: 7-22-20

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I have found that Wrangler and Chasity truly appreciate my consistent and predictable way of dealing with them. Donkeys can be very difficult sometimes, but in my experience, when they know what to expect, there is a lot less resistant behaviors. They appreciate verbal interaction and like to be told when they are doing well, and respond very well to a consistent and firm “No” when they are not doing what I ask. Donkeys do not like confusion and chaos! Lunging a donkey on a lunge line in an open area may seem like an impossible task, but when you take the time to break things down into very small steps, and do them in a logical and sequential order that they can understand, there is nothing they will not do for you. People have often told me that training donkeys is very different from training horses and mules, but I have always used the same basic approach with only a few “tweaks” here and there. I have to make those kinds of small adjustments for each individual equine anyway! So, “No,” it’s not that different!

Chasity doesn’t, but Wrangler does tend to be lazy and carry his head too low on occasion. So, when I tack him up, I add the use of the reins tied up on the saddle to encourage him to stretch and arc his back, but not to carry his head to low in the process.

The tack and equipment I use is not uncomfortable for Wrangler. It just helps him to maintain his good equine posture in an ideal balance while executing all the moves, such as the “reverse” shown here. Most disobedience is generally due to a loss of balance or just falling out of good posture!

Repetition in this tack and equipment changes their body carriage to a more ideal posture that will become their habitual way of going. This is much healthier, reduces the incidence of arthritis and allows the internal organs to operate as intended. Over the long term, this approach to training adds longevity to their use life.

I introduce the lunge line in the Round Pen so we won’t get into a pulling match. I keep it loose and only do a “squeeze-release” on the line with my fingers as the outside front foot comes forward. This becomes the “cue” to keep them on the circle in the open areas without pulling drastically on the lunge line!

Donkeys like to work with a companion, so I use a companion as much as I can. When they are all trained exactly the same way, they can help each other to do the right things while working together. When I work them on things that need to be done one at a time, I just tie the other outside the pen. They learn to stand quietly and just watch! They then learn to stand quietly anywhere without any anxiety associated with the training process.

I like my equines to be VERY LIGHT in the bridle. The equipment I use keeps them in good posture and allows me to concentrate on the symmetry and tension on the drive lines, so I do not get an over-reaction during turns, halts and rein backs. It promotes harmony between us! Wrangler stays relaxed throughout!

Chasity enjoys watching Wrangler do a halt, rein back and then they both wait quietly until I return.

Chasity waits quietly while I lead Wrangler through the gate. I always keep the ranch gate closed when I have equines tied outside of the Round Pen. With Chasity tied inside the Round Pen, Wrangler and I walk to the ranch gate at the road and open it again. I always train with safety first and a respectful, polite, considerate and consistent approach. It produces AMAZING results and HAPPY equine companions!

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WRANGLER’S DONKEY DIARY: First Turnout with Chasity: 6-10-20

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We tore down the quarantine panels and made one big area for Wrangler’s and Chasity’s turnout. Today would be their first time together in an open area by themselves. Chasity spent two months in quarantine with a double fence between them, then two weeks with a single fence between them. For those two weeks, they were introduced to the round pen and lunged together with no problems. Wrangler has finally found his “LADY LOVE!” But, for the time being, Wrangler is more interested in this GREAT BIG NEW PEN! Chasity watches him with interest while he inspects every square inch of the area.

Wrangler suddenly bolts and runs with joy!!! Chasity goes to the corner and pretends she doesn’t notice  his exuberance and obvious male flirtation!

Chasity then meanders over to talk with our miniature gelding horse, Mirage. Wrangler gallops over to flirt with our miniature mule, Francis, to make her jealous, but Chasity is not moved, so Wrangler goes after her to break up the tryst!

Chasity just moved down the fence line and Mirage followed her. Wrangler went after her and herded her to the other side of the pen where Chasity stopped and Wrangler patrolled the perimeter to keep her from returning to Mirage. Chasity is slightly incensed.

Wrangler made an approach and Chasity promptly chastised him and sent him to his corner. Then she trotted down to her corner and they pretended not to notice each other!

Chasity walked back up to Wrangler to try to make up and he galloped off in a huff! She then decided to play hard-to-get and returned to her corner where he promptly approached her again…this time, much more cautiously!

After they had stood still for a while, I called Chasity and Wrangler over for a reward of crimped oats. They came obediently and stood politely next to each other to receive their “goodies!” They then watched me leave with acute interest… “Well, aren’t you going to give us MORE?!!!”













SHARING THE EXPERIENCE 6 10 20 9

WRANGLER’S DONKEY DIARY: SHARING THE EXPERIENCE: 6-10-20

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Wrangler was introduced to our new donkey jennet, Chasity, with a double fence between them and has seen me working with her for two months now. After being alone in turnout for three years, he will finally have a turnout buddy once she is out of quarantine. This will happen in just a few days. However, I could sense that Wrangler was jealous of the time I was spending with Chasity, so I decided to surprise him! He obediently came to the stall door and waited patiently to be haltered, but it had been such a long time since he had seen the Tack Barn work station that he needed to PAUSE…

…and take a good look at the metal drainage grating before entering. He was rewarded at the hitch rail for being brave and was somewhat curious about what would be happening next.

Wrangler was so pleased when I walked through the door with his new love, Chasity! They both looked expectantly as I walked from the Tack Room with the familiar towel. I cleaned their eyes, ears and nostrils.

Wrangler showed Chasity that the “monster vac” was nothing to be afraid of. He stood quietly while I put on his Passier All Purpose English saddle. With the girth four inches back on the swell of his barrel, so as not to chafe the sensitive skin right behind his forearms, I adjusted his crupper to hold it firmly in place.

They both watched me intently as I returned to the Tack Room for the bridles. Wrangler politely lowered his head to make bridling much easier. I always return the favor by being VERY CAREFUL about pushing their ears through the headstall by protecting them with my hand as I slide the crown piece over them.

I took Wrangler to the Round Pen. Then I went back to the Tack Barn, got Chasity and tied her outside so she could watch him being lunged. I hoped this would help her to “get it” when it became her turn!

Wrangler was in pretty good shape when I got him three years ago. He’s always kept himself balanced and in good shape, so he was able to go straight to lunging for core strength in his “Elbow Pull.” He only had two lessons two years ago, but his good posture and core strength has endured. The “Elbow Pull” remained loose throughout his entire workout in the Round Pen.

He planted his pivot foot, easily executed his reverse and continued the same way in the other direction. I was so proud of him! Wrangler reminds me a lot of my super champion jack from 1980-2014, Little Jack Horner! What a classy guy!

Since Wrangler was doing so well, I decided to go ahead and let him try lunging with Chasity. They had not yet been in the same pen together, but I trusted he would behave himself and he surely did! He encouraged her to go forward and then did his reverse promptly on command. She took a bit more persuading to reverse, but he patiently walked until she caught up with him.

With Wrangler in the lead, they did five more rotations and Wrangler never swayed from his good equine posture. When we were done, I tied Chasity to a post in the Round Pen and returned to the Tack Barn with Wrangler. He was so happy to finally be able to spend some time with me and to share his experience with Chasity!





















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WRANGLER’S DONKEY DIARY: Wrangler’s New Love!

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3-30-20

Wrangler came to us in 2017 and has had to be in turnout by himself because he was so rambunctious that he didn’t really fit into any of our turnout groups. He was always turned out next to “friend” like Sir Guy but never with anyone else. Mr. Moon was his stable buddy, but still, there was always a run fence between them. Mr. Moon recently turned 32 years old and developed a condition that required that he be put down. Wrangler’s “stable buddy” was now gone.

With the empty stall and run next to Wrangler, we now had space to consider getting him a new companion. I checked with my friend in Oklahoma and we found Chasity! What a lovely “Lady!” I was told she was a really FORWARD moving jennet with a lot of independence and enthusiasm. We thought she would be the perfect companion for Wrangler!

Chasity was delivered on 3-30-20 and the introductions began while she was in quarantine in a space where she could see Wrangler, but they could not reach each other. They played with excitement back and forth along the fence line for a bit! They were clearly VERY interested in each other! Love had begun to blossom!

The next day the vet came to do a health check on Chasity. She will need a lot of core strength work, but it will be a good thing to keep her occupied while she is in quarantine. Wrangler looked on with interest as the vet surveyed her condition. Two months passed before Chasity was finally put in Mr. Moon’s stall and run next to Wrangler…they eyed each other suspiciously…this was a lot closer than they had previously been!

Wrangler stuck his head through the panels to sniff and Chasity looked interested, then decided to play shy!

This only frustrated Wrangler and he began some very active male donkey antics which spooked her away from him.

She returned only to be spooked away again while Wrangler continued his antics and embarrassed himself by tripping!

Chasity thought maybe NOW he would calm down and Wrangler started up AGAIN! She thought…REALLY?!!!

I called Wrangler over and had a little talk with him about good manners and being polite to young ladies. He seemed to listen and said he was sorry. Chasity wasn’t sure if she believed him!

But after receiving their crimped oats reward for settling down…all was GOOD!!!

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Wrangler’s Donkey Diary: Sarcoid Treatment Again

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1-29-20

Wrangler had his first sarcoid removal on 7-20-18, but we found another one just a few weeks ago starting under his right side. It looked like he had been rubbing it as it was a bit crusty. I had a mule that did that to a sarcoid and it eventually disappeared as did the other two that were on his body. He apparently built immunity against the sarcoids. So, we opted to wait and see if this one on Wrangler would also just go away. It didn’t and it was now the size of a golf ball and would need to be removed. We treated Wrangler’s prior sarcoid with Xterra because of its location in a vascular area, but this one could safely be surgically removed.

Our veterinarian, Greg Farrand, shaved the area for the IV catheter.

We opted to do the surgery in our tack and groom area where things could be kept clean. Kim handed Greg the catheter while I kept Wrangler steady. He wasn’t exactly thrilled, but he was a good boy!

In order to make sure he landed on his left side so Greg could reach the sarcoid that was on the right side, Chad and Steve took their positions on each side and guided him to the floor.

I shaved off the long, thick shaggy hair from his barrel around the sarcoid with my #10 blade and then Greg came back over the area with his closer cut blade. We put a fleece saddle pad under his head and covered his eyes with a bath towel.

Kim prepped the area while Steve held the rope that was anchored around his hind leg to prevent any kicking if he began to wake up. Chad held the IV drip while I watched his head for unnatural breath and movement. But Wrangler just snored!

Greg carefully removed the sarcoid paying attention to getting it all. Wrangler just kept snoring!

After the sarcoid was removed, we opted not to do stitches and Greg used his Hyper Thermic machine that would trigger his immune system to fight any cells that might have not been removed. It could even cause the old sarcoid that was now dormant to drop off later if it worked to that extent. This treatment is one that replaced the old injections that used to be the follow-up treatment in sarcoid surgeries.

Kim cleaned the area afterwards and blotted the sponge onto the area to help the blood to clot.

The she removed the IV drip system from the catheter in his neck. It wasn’t long after before Wrangler began to wake up.

We kept him on his sternum and patiently waited until he was ready to try to get up. At first, he was a bit wobbly and stayed in a sitting position for a few seconds before rising to all four legs.

Once he was on all fours, we held the sponges up against his belly to further stop the blood until it could lot. Wrangler just “hung loose!”

When the blood finally clotted, we pulled the IV needle from his neck and then held sponges on that until it stopped bleeding. Wrangler was grateful to be awake again…well, sort of awake!

When he was showing some stability on his feet, we took a few circles around the room to get his circulation going again. We kept him walking intermittently around the room for about 30 minutes before putting him back in his stall and run. We removed all the bedding for a few days so it would not get stuck in the open wound that we would clean twice a day and treat once a day with Panalog until it is healed.

Wrangler didn’t have the where-with-all to be able to let out a full-fledged bray, but he did let out several grunts of appreciation to Dr. Greg as he left!

 

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Wrangler’s Donkey Diary: Wrangler’s Summer Bath

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7-11-19

It was a perfect hot day for Wrangler’s yearly summer bath! We tried taking a “selfie” with a Canon camera and telephoto lens…not too bad for our first try!

He’s a real ham! He loves to smile for the camera and eat oats from the fanny pack.

Just tell him to and he perks his ears for the pictures! Wrangler is now an 11 year old gelding and softens my loss of Little Jack Horner in 2014!

Wrangler is so much like L.J.H. it’s crazy!

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Wrangler’s Donkey Diary: Sarcoid Treatment

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7-20-18

Wrangler has almost completely shed out and during my last weekly grooming, I discovered a small sarcoid on his left forearm and decided to consult with my veterinarian, Greg Farrand. Wrangler munched in the fanny pack while we talked.

Dr. Farrand Carefully inspected the sarcoid and determined that it was not a candidate for removal because of it’s precarious location. There was no way to grab loose skin around it like there was with prior sarcoids on other animals.

I shaved the area around the sarcoid so we could get a good look at it and so it would absorb the treatment the most efficiently.

In 2011, Rock had a sarcoid on his neck in front of the withers where there was a lot of fatty tissue and the skin was loose enough to pull the sarcoid away from the body. So, we shaved his neck and removed the sarcoid with surgery. We then had it biopsied to find it was not a serious sarcoid (Better to be safe than sorry!) and it eventually just went away. In the eighties, if we removed a sarcoid, it would have had a follow-up of injections to be completely rid of it. In the nineties, veterinarians discovered another way to treat sarcoids that involved taking a piece of the biopsied sarcoid and reintroducing it as an implant in the neck to prompt an immunity response. Before he could remove one of three sarcoids the from Lucky Three Eclipse, he rubbed one and tore it open. Before we had the chance to biopsy one of the sarcoids for an implant, as if a miracle, his immune system was stimulated by HIM, kicked in and all three sarcoids just disappeared…and no, they were not anything else.

Lucky Three Cyclonealso developed a sarcoid on his jaw which we successfully treated with surgery since it also was in a fatty area where we could pinch the skin around it easily. No follow up was necessary…just stitches removal.

Since Wrangler’s sarcoid was in such a delicate area, we opted to use a topical approach with Xterra, applied with a Q-Tip.

We will apply the Xterra once a day for a week, then stop for a week.

Then we will resume applying the Xterra for another week, stop after a week again and then see how it is progressing.

We will continue like this until it is gone. Xterra is surely a better way than the way we had to treat these in the eighties! Wrangler will be sure to keep you posted on his progress!

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Wrangler’s Donkey Diary: Second Lesson Day

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6-4-18

Simple hairbrush bristles remove more undercoat

 

The loose hair on top scrapes off easily

 

Place girth 4 inches from forearm

 

Lossen crupper strap & insert tail

 

Adjust snugly, but not tight

 

Much improved walking in sync

 

Proper turn through the gate

 

More impulsion & flexibility at walk left

 

First offer to trot easily

 

Begin reverse

 

Improved posture & balance at walk right

 

Offer to trot right

 

Hindquarter engagement before halt

 

Improved in sync back to work station

 

Slide saddle back to loosen crupper – learns to stand quietly

 

Remove saddle

Bristles are longer which is enough to get it all

 

No more shedding blade hair breakage

 

Adjust back girth snug enough to hold the saddle down

 

Scratch rear for relaxation of the tail

 

Place saddle over the center of balance

 

Patient while opening gate

 

Improved gate posture

 

Improved posture & balance at walk left

 

Beginning to find his balance

 

Complete reverse on correct pivot foot

 

Improved posture & balance at walk right

 

Finding balance at trot right

 

We did GOOD!

 

Remove bridle & put on halter

 

Slide crupper off tail

 

Back to the barn IN SYNC!

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Wrangler’s Donkey Diary: First Lesson Day

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4-3-18

Needed to correct following from behind

 

First time in the “Elbow Pull” – Track Left Walk

 

Exit Gate

 

Remove Saddle – Learn to stay quiet

Posture at the gate is a bit slouchy

 

First time in the “Elbow Pull” – Track Right Walk

 

Exit Tack Barn

 

Enter Tack Barn

 

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Wrangler’s Donkey Diary: First Turnout Day

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7-28-17

Okay, you’re on your own for a while

 

You smell okay!

 

These guys look a bit familiar.

 

WOW! They even put in a mirror for me!

 

Rather short fence post.

 

Perfect for a good roll!

 

More green here, too! STILL can’t reach it!

 

Hi, Augie! Mini donkey, eh? My name’s Wrangler!

Hmmmm…who’s this? Sir Guy?

 

I see green, but I can’t reach it!

 

So you are MINI donkeys, eh?

 

Sniff…great sand!

 

Great sand here!

 

More green over here…still can’t reach it!

 

Where did everyone at the barn go?

 

Time to go back to the barn.

 

 

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Wrangler’s Donkey Diary: First Farrier/Veterinarian Check-up

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7-7-17

Oats will definitely make this better!

 

You know it’s not polite to stare!

 

Nice to meet you Dr. Farrand!

 

…but nothing that Neosporin can’t handle.

 

So you want me to stand up straight?

 

Checking respiration? Ooh, that tickles!

 

Do you see anything in there?

 

Does it look okay, Doc?

 

Yup, small feet and big ankles… fetlocks!

Nice to meet you Farrier Dean!

 

So all you want me to do is walk around?

 

Yes, the chafing from the trailer is a bit sore …

 

It looks worse than it really is.

 

Checking my heart rate?

 

Can you see anything through the hair?

 

That is a bit bright on the eye!

 

I know I have very small feet!

 

The other front is small, but good, too!

Checking my pulse and I passed my health check!

 

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Wrangler’s Donkey Diary: Modeling Blanket for Trailering

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7-17-17

 

 

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Wrangler’s Donkey Diary: Arrival At Lucky Three Ranch

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6-29-17

Nation wide horse transportation

 

Checking things out

 

Leading – not exactly in sync

 

Entering barn alleyway

 

Handsome head shot

 

Meeting Meredith

 

Giving Meredith a donkey kiss

 

Good–bye present from prior owners

Unloading at Lucky Three Ranch

 

Steve leads the way – donkey trailer butt sores

 

Approaching the barn – in sync

 

Enter stall ahead of handler and turn around

 

Checking out his run

 

Posing for a picture

 

Giving Meredith a donkey hug