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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Friday, March 4, 2016

Pack-String Lesson #1

For a long time, I have mused about training my donkeys to work in a pack string ... one donkey tied and following behind the other.  When I have tried this with two donkeys, the donkey in the rear wanders over to the side instead of following behind and I haven't spent the time to work out a training plan for how to shape her for following the donkey in front.  A crop would be a useful extension of my arm but even then, I think we'd get in a muddle with just one trainer!

Now I have taught both Dorrie and Siog to follow (me) and have put that on cue!  When my young neighbour Forrest came over last week, I decided to try the pack string idea with Rose, who has been trained to drive, and Heather, who likes to follow Rose!

I suppose I should have tried it with Dorrie and Siog but since there were two humans, I decided to give this a go.

I put a surcingle on Rose and we started with one person leading Rose and one person leading Heather directly behind and reinforcing for just a few steps of what we wanted.  Eventually I tied Heather's lead rope to the surcingle but kept the rope up and off of Rose's back and kept leading Heather even though she was attached to Rose.

Rose felt the pressure of Heather's lead and stopped a few times but was easily encouraged to walk.  We used the fence line to keep us going straight with Forrest leading Rose and me staying right beside Heather's shoulder so she couldn't swing out.  If I moved away, that's what she did.

That's as far as we went on that first session!  The goal is to have one handler leading all four donkeys, one behind the other!

The photos are a bit misleading as this was more successful with 2 trainers and you're only seeing one as the other took a few hasty pictures.  Next time, I'll set up the video on the tripod so that we can both concentrate on donkeys. 

 Heather gets the idea that she is supposed to follow.

Forrest had to step away to take these pictures - two trainers were essential for Lesson #1! 
We reinforced both donkeys for just a few steps at a time.

We are on our way to the straight fence line!  You can see Heather's tendency to swing out to the side.

Heather's blue lead rope tied in a quick release knot to Rose's surcingle.


  1. I have recently (2 months) started working with three donkeys. My experiences have been with horses, cows and oxen. What charming creatures and mischievous! The male breaks up the squabbles between the two females even though they are great buddies. The females are always trying to out do each other. They love the attention of grooming, but always want to be the bring one groomed even if they just were. Thanks for the tips on train/leading. I am sure they will be interested to doing something besides just standing around.

    1. Hi Dale - great to hear that you are enjoying your donkeys! They do love attention and I find that clicker training (positive reinforcement) makes them sparkle and brings out the best in their personalities once they are taught not to mug for food! Keep me posted!