Welcome to my blog - a diary about living with donkeys, notes about care, my training sessions and the absolute pleasure of donkey companionship.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

What to do when your donkey goes AWOL on the road!

My sister is here visiting for a few days and I convinced her to walk up the road with me and the donks last night.  She agreed to take Dorica, my sweet lovely, gentle angel-of-a-donkey and I had Siog-the-rascal.

It had been about a week since I'd had them out and the last time they were in heat and up to many shenanigans in the middle of the road, which I couldn't seem to do a thing about!  Embarrassing ....!

Anyway last night Siog was just plain uppity.  Tossing her head, snapping at me the odd time, (actually! can you believe it??) trying to run downhill, just a major project to control and I'm so glad I had both my hands available!

The very best remedy for this kind of AWOL behaviour  (and I think the first letter stands for "mentally" absent!) is the following:

-bring her attention back to you, using the lead rope to gently ask her to soften her neck and head towards you. 

- release any lead rope pressure immediately when she yields as more pressure can make things worse

- ask her to do small behaviours she knows and can be successful at, such as touching my hand, stopping, backing, head down ... easy refocusing behaviours

- put her on a high rate of reinforcement: small "asks," immediate rewards and ask again

- ignore the bad behaviour and finally: stay calm!  I tend to get a bit flustered with uppity donkeys but with this technique, I can stay focused and it works for Siog too!

When we got home, I continued to ask her for some easy stuff that she knows.  I didn't want to turn her loose the moment we walked through the gate.  Then I tied her to a fence post and cleaned her hooves, groomed, etc. and ended to evening on a positive, happy note ... most important for everyone!

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