“Are donkeys fun?”
Depends what you mean by fun…
Do you enjoy cleaning out hooves, every day of the year, in every kind of weather? (And what if your donkey doesn’t enjoy it – do you enjoy taking the time to train a donkey – patiently – to allow its feet to be handled?)
Are you good at wielding a curry comb and brush?
Do you have fun putting together a plan to ensure your donkeys don’t get fat? For they will, very quickly, if left out to pasture or overfed on hay while getting too little exercise (a short walk of nine miles a day is considered adequate!) They need to be able to move around, 24/7, so being kept in a small stall or tiny paddock isn’t a good idea…
Do you have a good, affordable, local vet and farrier with donkey experience? Are you prepared to pay for immunizations, dental care, and trimmings on a regular basis? Can you give injections and worming treatments on your own?
Are you disciplined enough to know that you will have to be firm and not let donkeys eat from your hand, or lift their adorable muzzles to your face for kisses, because it teaches them disrespect (in equine language) and to invade your personal space – and in the end, to nip? Can you keep in mind that sometime loving them means having to do the Funky Chicken in order to drive them away from you when they get too close? This doesn’t mean you can’t hug and pet them – but it has to be on your terms, at your initiation, for the well-being of everyone.
Do you have adequate shelter, and are you able to provide fresh, clean water at all times (including winter)?
Do you enjoy shoveling poo on a daily basis?
Do you have pals for your donkey?
Do you have a steady source of grassy (not alfalfa) hay?
Do you want a safe, gentle mount – and are you willing to put in the training time necessary for that result? It’s true that donkeys are less likely to spook than horses in most situations. But don’t believe the old wives’ tale that a donkey “can carry more than a horse of the same size” – that is a bunch of bunk. If you are a big person, you’re going to need a big donkey!
Are you prepared to provide a home for a donkey for its whole lifespan – which can be more than 30 years?
Then donkeys are fun! They are hysterically funny, insatiably curious, wonderfully affectionate, and downright cute.
I believe in barefoot trimming of hooves, treeless saddles, and bitless bridles. These are things you will want to learn about, in addition to gaining knowledge of basic donkey care, before falling in love with “longears”!
A new book on donkey care will be coming out this fall and it would be a great place to start with your research!