Thursday, April 2, 2015

I Rode a Donkey!

 I had a very exciting weekend at the Donkey Days Clinic, which was taught by a donkey expert named JoDee. At the clinic, I rode a seven year old donkey named Buddy. Donkeys are quite different than horses. They take a lot more patience to work with, and typically do not want to work very hard, yet they are the safest equines because they don't bolt or buck. They are very fun to ride and be around. They aren't as sensitive in the mouth as horses are, so when riding donkey you can't just pull on their faces, which will only make them brace, which I noticed as I watched other riders. You ask for something, like circling, with the leg aids and pull only if needed.

 One characteristic necessary for riding donkeys is patience. It can take a long time for them to understand what you are asking if you ask something new, but you have to keep asking until they make an effort. I experienced this first hand when I was asked by JoDee to back Buddy up. I cued Buddy to back up, but he only opened his mouth and braced, and then began evading by doing a turn on the forehand. He wasn't doing this to be naughty, he just didn't know what to do. It is important with donkeys just to hang in there and keep asking. I continued to ask, and used my left leg to keep him from spinning, but he just decided to go the other way. JoDee stood nearby helping by holding the reins near the bit.

The group and I(I'm on the left).
 It took a long time before Buddy backed up. After a while, I began to get a little frustrated, so I took a deep breath and tried to relax. Finally, I managed to get him to back up a few steps. I praised and patted Buddy. He didn't back up straightly, which was okay, and JoDee reiterated the importance of rewarding the effort. The allow Buddy to think about what had happened, she went on to work on the other donkeys and riders. I even watched her ride a beautiful dark brown(it looked like something you would see in a painting) male donkey. He had not been ridden in a year, and had only been ridden about fifteen times prior, so he was pretty green. It was neat to watch.

 A little later on, I witnessed some funny donkey behavior. While everyone was sitting on their donkeys, watching the clinician work on a young, on of the donkeys laid down–with a rider on her. It was hilarious! I had never seen that happen before! After watching for a while, I again attempted to back Buddy up, this time with a lot more success. He backed quite a few strides, which was great!

A donkey all the way from Nevada! I rode in an Australian saddle.
 Next, I rode a Western trail course for the first time. There were several obstacles, including a rope gate, two barrels to figure eight around, a box to do a turn on the forehand in, and two parallel poles to back out of. I had some difficultly at the rope gate, not being able to keep Buddy standing still parallel to the gate. Buddy seemed to be a little nervous as he was one of the least experienced of the group. I tried quite a few times, to no avail, so JoDee helped by opening the gate and having me follow her through the gate and back. We did this several times, and them I moved on.

 The rest was pretty straight-forward. I trotted him in a figure eight pattern around two barrels, then halted in a box made of white poles. I spun Buddy around first one war, and then the other, before exiting. I then walked through two parallel poles, halted a few seconds, and asked Buddy to back. He did it, and well too! It was so rewarding. To finish off, I went to the rail and headed towards the group. I kicked him into a fast trot and tried to get him to canter. I managed to get him to canter a few strides and trot the rest of the way, which was great because as I said donkeys don't always want to world hard.

 I had such an amazing and educational time riding Buddy! Now, I have ridden a horse, a mule, and donkey, all in one month! If you ever get the chance to ride a donkey, you should. It's fun and can be a learning experience.

6 comments:

  1. How neat! That must have been lots of fun. Buddy is cute - he reminds me of Jethro!

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  2. omg those ears!!!! sounds like a really fun day - glad you liked Buddy!!

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    1. The ears are certainly the best part!

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