Tips for Loading Donkeys

DonkeysHorses aren’t the only equines that need to be transported from place to place.  Donkeys are often hauled whether it is across the country or to a local show.  However, few transporters take into consideration the special attention that donkeys require.

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that you can’t rush a donkey.  If you try to hurry along a hesitant donkey, you’re only asking for trouble.  Most of the tricks that work well on a stubborn horse do nothing on a stubborn donkey.  The best method that works for a donkey is a long lead rope that will reach a secure ring located in the front of the trailer.

Before asking a donkey to enter a trailer, run the end of the rope through the ring.  This is typically a two person job, as one person needs to keep the donkey from backing up when the other asks it to load.

Remember, donkeys are very strong and when they decide to go back, they’re going back and you can’t hold them without a wrap or two around the ring with the lead rope.  This is a slow process, but as long as you don’t allow them to back away at all they will begin to figure out that they don’t have very many options.  Many donkeys will load this way without any fussing.

A common problem when loading a donkey is that they may decide to enter the trailer with their front feet and then freeze.  This can be frustrating because you know they’re almost there, just two more feet to go.  However, don’t make a big deal out of it.  Just move around in a very relaxed manner.  Avoid opening dividers or doors, as this can cause them to become uneasy and then they definitely won’t enter the trailer.  They will simply become suspicious of you and the trailer.

Try to avoid using food as a bribe for loading into the trailer, but there is nothing wrong with a little treat after they have successfully loaded.  However, if you do have a donkey that seems to be motivated by food and you don’t really know the donkey and he doesn’t know you, then a little alfalfa or grain may be a good tool for developing trust between you and the donkey.

Finally, remember that patience is key.  It’s also a good idea to make the trailer an inviting place to be by putting down shavings, cleaning out strange manure and eliminating flies.  If you have lights, turn on the interior lights and open any feeder doors or windows that will increase the light.  If it’s a warm day, have as many windows and vents open as possible to avoid the trailer feeling like an oven.

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One thought on “Tips for Loading Donkeys”

  1. I have 2 Mammoth Jackstock geldings I have had for 14 yrs ( since they were 7 months old). I have had occasion to load them infrequently over the years. They are typical donkeys – and need the person they trust and love to be around for a load. The best load I ever had was a couple months ago – when I had 6 people around to help. The shear manpower – needed – or not – was important. We all just gathered around willing a good load and by gum – it happened!!. One went in and the other followed. A crowd of people Can’t be wrong!! That load took 30 minutes tops. My donkeys are “people” donkeys. And you are right – they are way stronger than horses – but they use thier strength with great judiciousness. With Donkeys – its all about the ambiance, the atmosphere, and “ya gotta hold you mouth right”!! If a donk wont accept food from you after the load – they are WAY stressed. Luckily – I have only had to take mine short distances.
    To the readers : never underestimate a donkey. They have soul like a horse does not. Respect it!!!
    Pam M.

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