I am in the barn at 6:30 AM (give or take 10 minutes!) and it's dark. The donkeys are always so glad to see me and it's mutual! Rolling out of bed in the dark, bundling up and heading out into the (usually) pouring rain is not top of my list for things to do first thing in the morning but so far, I am always happily and warmly greeted by my furry friends and glad to be in our cozy barn with them.
On days when it's clear, it's quite magical to be up and out into the crisp, star-filled early morn - sometimes a glorious moon still shining. And I'm glad for the opportunity, glad for the night sky, glad to witness the dawn and the gradual return of daylight.
But daylight is in short supply these days as we near the winter solstice. Today it seemed never to get light! I was back in the house by 7:50 AM after feeding and barn chores and it was still murky. The day felt gloomy and short with numerous bursts of tumultous rain.
At 4 PM, I decided the donkeys needed a walk before standing all the long night in the barn and breezeway, so I strapped on my clicker training treat pouch as their "cue" that we were going to play.
Four sets of ears suddenly perked up and they eagerly followed me out and into the paddocks. We walked, stopped, backed up and practiced a few head-downs too. Mostly I kept them moving, albeit carefully as the ground is wet and slippery.
This is a huge bonus of clicker training: the eagerness shown by the animals you are working with. So this can translate into a willingness to do all sorts of things, walk in the rain, load into a trailer, stand for various husbandry things, etc.
I was so pleased that my four donkeys got a bit of exercise today - we all felt better as a result!