Saturday, November 19, 2011

Daisy gets her learn on

Back when we were rehabbing the donkey she was extremely lame and needed twice daily bute.  Our hope was to get her pasture sound and off of bute by August or I was going to put her down as a life on bute isn't a good life.  After some good trims and a helpful set of xrays, Daisy has not only become pasture sound but a whole new personality has shone through.  She has had her days where she would rather not be caught and the few days where she figured out how to escape and I had to try to catch a sound donkey (not nearly as easy as catching a lame donkey).  She likes her routine and will give a hearty bray if things aren't "just so", if I am late for breakfast/dinner, if she doesn't get the 1/3 cup of oats first during feeding time, if she ran out of dinner hay "too fast", if she doesn't get her "nightcap" of apple or carrot at nightcheck, etc.  As a result of her newly found appreciation of life I have decided she needs a job.

The job I have picked for her is to pull my butt in a cart.  The reason is that is the easiest thing I can think of for her since I don't want to put additional weight on her as a pack donkey or riding donkey due to her feet.  My goals are that she learns to lunge, learns to move off of pressure if I push her, learns to long line and then ground drive and not care about a dragging pole.  Would eventually like to also start ponying her off of a horse in the arena, that is more of a like to have though.  If I can do all of this then I think I can get her to a cart without too many issues.  

I am lucky in that she learned whoa pretty well so far through normal leading.  She learned to stop when I stop, she (mostly) walks when I walk, turns when I turn and so on.  She has learned to move away from the pressure of a gate and will now walk around one instead of trying to either A) barrel through it or B) stand there and wait for the gate to move.  She also seems to be a learn-through-watching kind of donkey as some things she does can't be coincidence and I can only figure she learned it by watching me with the horses.  So last night I brought her out to learn how to lunge and it went pretty well.  I had just a halter, her lead line and a lunge whip in the arena and she figured out how to walk around in the circle pretty fast.  She learned that "Walk On" with a shake of the lunge whip means walk and "And Whoa" means stop.  She gave me what I asked for about 90% of the time, pretty good for the first time in my opinion!  I had her walk over a pole on the ground (no biggie) and turn around (no biggie).  I tried to teach her to trot/pace on the lunge but she wasn't getting it and I couldn't consistently convince her to go faster than a walk.  Oh well, that will be the next step in the process.

We finished the lesson with yielding to pressure, I want her to move her hips or shoulders away if I push on her.  Currently it happens only about 10% of the time when I ask, the rest of the time she pushes right back which is a typical donkey move.  What I ended up doing is taking my (warm) gloves off and if she didn't move away from a push with my hand, I would push with my fingertips for about 3 seconds, release and do it again until she moved away.  A couple times she got really irritated and I was afraid she may actually kick me as she was throwing her head, swishing her tail and stomping not only her front but also back feet.  In the end she seemed to have gotten it figured out, every time she moved away she would get an ear rub (no treats) and a verbal "Good Girl".  She is now moving away from pressure about 75% of the time, that after just one session!  

Hopefully I am able to figure out a way to make her trot on the lunge line, if not then I guess we will just have to bypass that step and start work with a bridle and learn long lining.  My donkey, she has come so far.

1 comment:

  1. Yay!!! Such a smart girl! I can't wait to start working with Zep. :)