What about burros or donkeys? What use are they?
A friend of mine knows I work with Habitat for Horses on their website asked me this question a while back – “Why adopt a donkey?”. I just about stamped my feet when I answered “Because they are awesome.”. Here are some reasons, better articulated than “awesome”, on why having a donkey or burro around is a wonderful thing (from American Donkey and Mule Society):
1. As a babysitter. First off, with time you can train a donkey that is large enough to take a saddle. You must make sure you not too large for the donkey. Once trained, many donkeys make great babysitters. Most donkeys love children and have greater patience at dealing with them than most horses do. Use of a jenny or a gelding is better than a jack.
2. As herd protection We have written about this before on Habitat for Horses. Donkeys or burros make great horse protectors. They will bond with the horses they are around, and are much better at dealing with coyotes and other predators than horses are on their own. Placing one or two medium size donkeys with your horses is a sound security investment.
3. They calm injured horses down Show stables have known about this for many years. They will keep a burro or mini in a stall near a horse recovering from an injury. There is something about a burro’s nature that calms horses. It is as if they are saying “I am right here with you buddy, it is going to be alright”.
4. For weaning foals Nothing is more stressful on a foal than weaning time. His dam is taken from him or her, leaving them lonely and lost. Introducing early on a donkey to your mare then the foal (before weaning) as a companion will help ease this transition. Foals can be kept for longer periods of time without their dam when they have their burro friend with them. The burro is both loving and protective over foals. Also, they will teach the foal that people are friendly. Burros willingness to approach us, will cause the foal to mimic that behavior.
5. For use during halter breaking When your yearling gets to the point that they are ready for halter training, donkeys are a great help. Make certain that your donkey and yearling are well known to each other and get along well. Then have your donkey wears a collar that is connected to the halter of the yearling. Supervise them both, while turning them loose in an enclosure. Where the donkey wants to go, the young horse will follow.
Do remember to keep in mind the personality of your donkey when placing them with horses or humans. Use common sense!
To view more burros, minis, mules and more – click here!