The addition of our two baby donkeys, Bing and Frankie, has provided a welcome distraction this winter. Their long eared presence around the barn is one more reason for me to smile through chores despite January's bitter cold dips in temperature.
Since stepping off the trailer onto our Adirondack farm one month ago, the donkeys have entertained many of us with their reserved antics and have endeared me with their cuddly dispositions. Perhaps the biggest surprise however, is the contrast they display in comparison to the horses.
For over forty years I have been observing horses; either deliberately or through osmosis while working with them. I can read a horse’s intentions fluently and am able to decipher between a lack of confidence and a lack of manners. Of course for each one I must respond appropriately without over-reacting so that the horse continues to respect me as the leader of our herd.
Donkey behavior, on the other hand, has evolved quite differently. Donkeys are more laid back than horses. They will take as long as they need to weigh the pros and cons of complying with my training request. The final decision is based on the likelihood of their survival.
Many of the donkeys' behaviors are similar to Fiona's, (No More Pigs). With big dewy eyes they silently negotiate the terms of my training and before I know it, 'whoosh'; I am on my way back to the tackroom for more cinnamon horse treats! After several more months of this routine, it will be unclear who is training who.
|The more I learn about donkeys...the more I understand horses!
Zambi, Easau, Frankie and Bing.
Bing and Frankie follow along.