My mini donkey tries to kick me

suburbandonkeymomJanuary 1, 2010

I live in a suburb of New York City on two acres. Spryte and Coco are my two mini donkeys that I "have been owned by" for 4 years. They are about 4.5 years old. Coco is laid back for the most part, welcomes a child on her back and gives me very little trouble. Spryte on the other hand has always been high energy and high maintenance. Spryte bullies Coco at feeding times (but Coco doesn't seem to mind too much). Beginning last spring, however, Spryte now tries to bully me. She pins her ears back and kicks up her back legs in my direction and dangerously close to me -- especially at feeding times. Before this time, she had NEVER attempted to kick me. I have to admit, I am fearful of her now. I have taken to bringing out their hay in a rubbermaid bin and keeping this bin between myself and Spryte. Lately, I have started to try to "own" the feeding area by keeping her away (with my trusty rubbermaid shield) from her hay until she calms down. This is similar to what I would do with my dogs, but I am afraid it may have an undesireable effect on a donkey. Any suggestions??

While I'm at it, I may as well mention another problem -- I have found it difficult to train them to be led by me together (too much for me to handle and they don't focus), but when I separate them for their lessons they are greatly distressed and still won't focus.

I am very distressed, myself, about this whole situation. It is difficult enough trying to keep neighbors happy with two loud (a.m. and p.m. feed times) and sometimes smelly (albeit rarely -- I am very careful with their poop) donkeys. I don't need the additional problem of being kicked at. I think I'm feeling a bit underappreciated!

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Donkeys are a bit more hard-headed than horses (which I own).

Having said that if this were a horse I'd work it every single day 30 minutes or so, doing some type of training to let her know I was boss. The training session could be as detailed or relaxed as you deem for the day, from lounging to just picking up hooves to teaching her to back up. The key is working with them every day, feed them aftwerwards as a reward. I'd probably start with something simple, like simply tying her/them on a break-away for an hour. Whatever you do, end each session on good behavior, they must not "win".

This donkey has no respect for you. Until you teach her some respect, and quit letting her get away with bad behavior, she will continue to act poorly. I suggest you either start working her to show her who's boss, or bring a trainer in to work with you to accomplish some respect.

A long lead on their rear-end when you are leading them should teach them to lead (a come-along). An alternative is to lead them on an angle rather than straight ahead so they con't have the advantage of their size & strength. When they brace change direction by 45 degrees or so to throw them off balance-they will follow a step or two at least. Training halters with pressure points work well, also if you can find one their size.

I'm not sure how big a mini-donk is, but remember they can hurt you so if you are not up to the task get someone who can help you.

p.s. there are training videos youo can buy, Clinton Anderson sells some, but they are horse training.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2010 at 5:51PM
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Thank you brendasue and HAPPY BIRTHDAY !!
I get what you said about working daily with them. I know that is important. What do you think about my "owning the feed" thing I described? Is that something that could get good results or will that make things worse?
I have no idea where to find a trainer that has any experience with donkeys, but I think I need an expert. Does anyone know where I should begin looking for a trainer? I am on Long Island, New York.
Thanks again and Happy New Year everyone.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2010 at 5:15PM
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Thank you.

Hmm. Owning the feed is a good thing. Holding the feed while the donkey mobs you is another. We're back to the respect thing, keeping them out of your space. How large are these donks? Heel kicking towards you is not acceptable. Period. If they were mine I think I'd seperate them, deal with one at a time as the good one may pick up bad habits. Feed out of a bucket individually watching for bad behavior like nipping or thrashing with a hoof. Do not reward bad behavior with grain! If the kicking is really bad I might even consider hobbling sprite so she can't kick, definately applying lots of pressure while the bad behavior is occurring. Is it possible the bad behavior is due to boredom?

Donkeys are extremely hard headed. I'm thinking hard lessons are in order to correct this, but I also know that donkeys are wired slightly different than horses. I'm also thinking a trainer would be your best bet. Contact stables in your area. I'm sure there are some that visit the stables weekly, or the renters can offer you some names. Call your vet, or other horse owners in the area between these resources you should be able to find someone.

Mind you I'm no donkey owner, not even a horse trainer, so please use your best judgement and check things with a proffessional as soon as you find one. Stay safe!

    Bookmark   January 2, 2010 at 9:04PM
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i have 2 minis,We trained ours by using a bucket with grain,theyll do what you want because they like to eat,you do want to not over feed they look awful,they get fat around thier neck,I heard it can get heavy pull thier head down,
mine kicked me 2 times,it seemed she was aiming for the crotch,always got me inside my inner thigh,
I was told you need to get down to thier level,you look too big to them standing,I took a stool up sat down in pasture,rubbed thier eats,scratch thier backs,rub thier legs so they trust you.once they trust you can do anything with them,

    Bookmark   January 3, 2010 at 9:24PM
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Below is a site that may be of help.

Who did you buy the mini's from? Can you visit or call them for help on training?

Here is a link that might be useful: videos

    Bookmark   January 3, 2010 at 11:35PM
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I am also owned by three mini-donkeys ...

I agree that you need to work with each one separately. And make sure you feel calm, not fearful, when you are working with them .. they could be reacting to your fearing them.

Good halter training, and consistent daily training should make a difference.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2010 at 9:11AM
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Thank you all for your input. I have contacted the person from whom I bought them. That has been some help. Yes, pamghatten, I am sure they do sense my fear. Boredom may be an issue -- in this cold snap I am not giving them as much time as they deserve. I have noticed that unfortunately they are becomming more vocal. If they see my light on, they will bray even at 11pm (or even later -- I have heard them at 1 am). This is after having been out there with them and giving them hay at 7 pm! This has been going on now at a problem level for the last 8 months. My neighbors have been very tolerant, but where I live I cannot imagine it being tolerated for much longer. They are very healthy, a good weight, have plenty of running room, fresh grassy hay twice a day, a nice sheltered barn whenever they feel the need. Frustrating on many levels! I almost feel like bailing and finding them a new home, but I love them! Sorry to rant, but as you can probably tell, I am just at a bad spot right now with them.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 8:50AM
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Rant away ... we can take it! :>)

I wonder about the braying ... my little guy brays in the morning, mostly on the weekends, since I don't get up at the crack of dawn to feed them on my days off. The only other time they all "sound off" is when they see something scary, or they are playing in their pasture ... they don't sound off that often. Mostly when he's hungry.

Luckily, I live in a rural area, and the neighbors have to live with the sound of my donkeys and the milk cows in the neighbors pasture.

Anyone else have any suggestions for the braying? I'll have to see if my donkey books say anything.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 1:01PM
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Respect has to go both ways......Don't let them in your space and you should respect their space (feed/water bucket) The longer you let her disrespect you the worse it will get and you will be the one getting hurt. Carry an empty bucket with you and as soon as she lays back an ear (not a half second later)let her have the bucket upside the head or wherever it hits her and let out a yell that makes her think your gonna kill her. If you have a shovel in hand and an ear lays back, give her the shovel, if you're empty handed and an ear drops, go after like an idiot with both arms flailing. If you walk up and the ears stay up, pet and fuss over her a while. Things'll turn around real quick. Show no weakness, you're not dealing with a puppy or kitten.

Good Luck,


    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 3:06PM
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Thank you Dave. I agree with you on the respect issue. So maybe my Rubbermaid shield can also be used as a weapon, right? It is very interesting to note that although Spryte is the naughtier one, she is also the most affectionate (when she is in the mood).
I appreciate your comments, pamghatten, about the braying. I hope someone out there will have further insights. In the meantime, I tend to walk around my kitchen at night with the lights out so they won't see me! Man, are they loud !! Thank you all; I am enjoying this forum.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 9:05PM
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Are Coco and Spryte both girls? Could Spryte be in heat? I'm no mini-donkey expert, but I can sure tell the difference with my mare when she is. She kicks around a lot more, she acts silly and doesn't behave as well as she usually would.

She's never kicked or bitten, but when her ears go back, we (my husband and I) quit petting her and talk softly to her. If she starts to do anything undesirable, we yell "NO" and point at her. I don't know if this is standard training procedure (LOL) but it seemed to work. As soon as she calmed down, we would start petting her again and tell her what a pretty girl and more importantly, a good girl she is.

As for the braying, it sounds like they're bored, lonely, hungry or just got you to come out a few times and check so they keep trying it :) Horses and donkeys are VERY smart (in my opinion) and if they get away with anything ONE TIME, they'll try it over and over again, just to make sure it won't still work.

Can you put a fence between you and the donkeys while you feed? If you can put them in one area and feed over the fence, then they can't kick you. That eliminates one major problem! Once that is taken care of, you can work on spending more time with them and using a small amount of grain as a reward for good behavior. I would feed them every day at the same time and don't give them any extra food afterwards. (If all else fails, keep the curtains closed, so they can't see the light, at least until longer days return and the neighbors get a break!) Good luck :)

    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 9:35PM
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Thanks Lavender lass, I don't know if she is in heat. Yes, they are both girls. Now, this morning, they were both calm and patient, no braying. Spryte came over to me with ears forward and enjoyed a good scratching and curry combing. How often do they go into heat? At what age does this begin? Anyone else out there have any experience with donkey heat?? (I think I've coined a new term!!)

    Bookmark   January 12, 2010 at 10:17AM
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LOL! I think you have coined a new term.

I don't know. When our mare was that age, we had a stallion...which is why we have more than two horses now :) Since then, we finally had Dad gelded, but the mare still gets "silly" and runs around, kicking up her feet once in a while.

I'm sure that a vet could give you more information. I would think a lot of patience and consistent "reward good behavior, punish bad behavior" would be effective. By punish, we usually withhold special attention until they calm down and then make a big deal over them once they do.

Although it's probably not recommended by everyone (and I don't know if grain is bad for donkeys) we give our horses a little, tiny, bit of grain when they have been good all day on the weekend (when we work with them) and tell them "you're not going to get your grain" if they aren't being good. I realize the neighbors are probably laughing at us, but it seems to work :)

I hope you have an easier time feeding them and I would check and see if there's a way you can keep yourself away from their back end while you feed!

    Bookmark   January 15, 2010 at 8:34PM
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I've never raised donkeys of any size but have had both quarter horses & POAs (ponys).
Are you feeding them anything other than the hay? If your not that might be part of the problem. Some good feed helps the animals generate heat in the cold weather.

I agree that you need to get their respect and another thing...some people forget...these are animals not children! DON'T spoil them...that is when you get hurt!!!
I've seen it happen to too many horse owners!!!

    Bookmark   January 17, 2010 at 10:30PM
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I don't check in here that often. I was just passing through and saw this thread.

This sounds like a respect issue to me too, and she is bossing you around. I'm not a mean person with my horses, but I will not tolerate my horses turning their hind end to me and pinning their ears under any circumstances. The first time they do that I will go get a long, springy privet twig/branch and carry it with me. The next time they turn their hind end I will give them a swat with an "Ahhhh." You won't have to do that too many times. I can tell you that if she did that to a boss mare in a herd the boss mare would try to bite or kick her and run her off. The boss mare would not tolerate it. You can go out and love on her later. Respect first, love later.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 12:00AM
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Thank you all once again. They have been better over the last week with respect to the respect thing. I'm really starting to believe in the "donkey heat" theory. But this braying issue is still driving me crazy. Last evening, for instance, I was out with them giving them their evening hay. I spent time with them, brushed them, etc. And they got really upset when I left, trying to chase me. They subsequently brayed until all the lights were off in the house -- about 11:30. Now here's what I was thinking ... my donks have the invisible fence collars (works beautifully for them ) what if I get the kind that shock with remote and shock them when they bray???

    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 10:44AM
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Really, you use invisible fencing with donkeys? I've never heard of anyone using those things for donkeys.

As far as the person who posted about giving them grain, I give mine crimped oats as a treat. Don't give them the "sweet" feed ... donkeys can get fat easily, so the plain oats is better for them.

I looked in my donkey book, but it didn't have anything about braying. Sorry can't help with that ...

    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 12:44PM
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Here's a website for mini donks. I used to get her magazine, but then she stopped publiching a real magazine and went to an online version.

Her book was the one I looked in to see if there was anything about braying.

You can ask her, and tell her someone looked in her book.

Here is a link that might be useful: Mini Donkey Talk

    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 12:51PM
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Thanks pamghattan. Yes, I have the invisible fence for my dogs and when I got the donkeys I thought I'd try them on it too. I have to remake the collars out of elastic given that the circumference of their necks changes with position (grazing or upright) The donkeys took to the invisible fence right away -- only running through it once in the beginning. I keeps me from having fences all over the place and I can keep them away from my garden. Thanks for the link. I will give it a try.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 9:24PM
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I've raised several donkeys and never had a problem with any of them except one of the ginnies. She was definitely the "barnyard boss". To stop her kicking and biting at the other donks during feeding time, I built a series of feeding chutes. They were too small for more than one donk at a time to enter,and the boards down each side prevented kicks and bites. They could only enter the chute from one direction.There were 4 chutes ( 2 on each side ) with a center aisle.I could walk down the aisle and put their feed in their buckets and flakes of hay in the hanging feeders.Donkeys are not stubborn or hard-headed as most people believe,but they are cautious to the extreme. Unlike a horse,a donkey will never place itself in a situation where it thinks it's going to get hurt.Getting down to their level is a good idea and it does teach them to trust you,but I don't think I'd want to have my brains at the level of a kicking donk ! It's possible she may have been in heat,but you said they're over 4 yrs.old and you've had them quite some time.It's also possible that the more dominant one has come to view you as a member of "her herd" and is subjecting you to the same treatment as the other donk. Either way,it's totally unacceptable behavior.As for hitting them with buckets,shovels,etc.I would strongly disagree with that advice. Reason being,donkeys do NOT forget ! I can smack the heck out of one of my horses if they act like an idiot and 5 min.later,they're begging for treats :>) Donkeys will find some way to get even with you.You will lose any trust you have built up with them because they are going to remember that you're the one who hurt them and not only that,if you decide to bang on your donks with a shovel,then you will probably deserve to get knocked on your butt ! Sorry,but that's the way I feel.I don't treat my horses like my children,but I don't abuse them either,and way-laying any creature with a shovel just smacks of abuse. When you're working with your donks,stay close to them,basically crowding them.It gives them less room to draw those legs back and let you have it.Has something about you changed that maybe your donks sense ? Did you get a new dog ? Donks are wonderful "guarddogs" and will stomp coyotes and dogs to death if given a chance.Could they possibly be smelling a strange dog's scent on you ? I would halter them one at a time and work with them separately for about 30 minutes a day. If the bossy one goes to kick,turn her in circles until she gets those legs back under her and keeps them there.Lucky for me,my son's a big guy and whenever I have a problem with any of the colts I'm breaking,I call him in.If one goes to kick or rear up and paw at us,he can usually put the younger ones on the ground.It dosen't take but a time or two before they realize that if they go to kick or rear,they're going to get spun around and dropped to the ground.As for the braying.. this is what the donks do and do very well :>) I'm kind of wondering if they aren't calling for you.Silly as this may sound,like horses,they are herd animals and if they've come to recognize you as part of their herd, then maybe some of the braying is just their way of trying to locate you ? Mine would bray when I pulled up at the barn to feed,and they brayed if strange vehicles came down the lane,but it wasen't excessive.Friends of mine who have donks say theirs only bray a couple of times a day and for the most part are pretty quiet. Hope some of this helps.


    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 10:41PM
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Susan -- you're hoping that "some of this helped"??? It was ALL helpful. Please write more if you think of anything else. They eat on either side of a feeder or if I throw the hay on the ground (the feeder area is sometimes too muddy) I put it into two piles. But you're right, she bullies me like she bullies CoCo. The only difference is that CoCo doesn't seem to mind most of the time, whereas, I most certainly do mind. I have not hit either of them and do not plan to, but will keep my rubbermaid shield and take the advise of ladybug and get a privet stick just for getting her attention and letting her know that I don't agree with her actions and can reach her butt while staying out of range of her kick.
We did not get any new animals, but went through a "crisis" of sorts over the last year. How interesting to think that Spryte somehow detected my "weakness" or "distractedness". Something to think about. I'll have to let Spryte know that the crisis is OVER and I'm back !!!!

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 12:13PM
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