Can You Ride a Donkey? {How much weight can a donkey carry?}

Can you ride a donkey? Am I to big to ride my donkey? How much weight can a donkey carry? These are questions I see over and over again… but it’s a much more complicated question than weight.

A good rule of thumb is they can carry 20% to 30% of their body weight in live weight (including tack) and 20% of their body weight in dead weight for packing. The ability to 20% to 30% varies and you’ll see why.

Just so you know if your donkey is to small to ride they can pull much more than they can carry. Driving donkeys are fun! See article for training a driving donkey Driving a Donkey {Video Series from Start to Cart}

This is dependent on what kind of vehicle they are pulling and the terrain they are pulling on but most all donkeys can pull a cart of appropriate size.

Donkey Weight Estimate

So first the first, to determine can you ride a donkey, we need to find your donkey weight estimate! I have used this formula for years and compared it to what donkeys weigh when I get them out of the kill pen. Since they are sold to meat buyers by the pound, I always know what that donkey weighs. This formula for donkey weight estimates has typically been very close. 

can you ride a donkey? donkey weight

Feel free to save and share this chart!

Can you ride a donkey? Yes! 

You need to be an appropriate size for the donkey. A 200-pound person shouldn’t be on a 12 hh donkey BUT, the most important thing is donkey’s condition. A healthy, well-conditioned donkey can carry more weight than an overweight donkey or a donkey that’s sat in a pasture for years with no exercise.

8 Things to consider: How much weight can a donkey carry?

  1. Is he well nourished? Good donkey diet is important to all donkeys be even more so to a donkey with a job.
  2. Muscular or fat? Or underweight? Check this Body Condition Chart 
  3. Does he get out of breath quickly? Walk with your donkey. Does he struggle and seem uncomfortable?
  4. Getting your donkey fit is of most importance! Is he physically in shape? Get that donkey in shape before you jump on for a 2 mile ride! Walk up hills, hike, get a mile counter to you can build your donkeys fitness level (as well as yours!)
  5. How are his hooves? Bad hooves could be very painful carrying more weight.
  6. His age needs to be taken into consideration too. A 9 years old can carry more than a 22 year old!
  7. How is the riders balance and seat? An unbalanced rider will be harder to carry.
  8. How is the donkeys own balance? Example my riding donkey, Jasper has good balance and control over his body.. but my mammoth donkey J-Donk is more like a gangly teenager… J-Donk just hasn’t developed as quickly as Jasper and needs some conditioning before I consider him safe for harder trails. Expecting your donkey to balance your weight without conditioning is not being very nice to the donkey!
how much weight can a donkey carry
Flash is in training and will need a lot of conditioning. Follow his training updates on Youtube and for full length videos join the Donkey Training Membership group.

A Riding Donkey is a Joy and a Blessing

These animals are strong and if trained properly, kept in good shape they are more than capable and very willing to let us ride them, an animal that allows you to ride and seems to enjoy it is a treasure! They will never enjoy it if it causes pain or is unfair. Horse people tend to be more aware of the fact they need to condition their horses before they expect them to carry out a job. For Us ‘donkey people’ it should be no different.

The weight consideration is important, but equally important is the condition of the donkey itself. Do not underestimate the need for your donkey to be in good physical condition before you start riding. 

I mean, you won’t just jump into a 5k run without conditioning, would you? Of course not! Riding is work and demanding on an animal, so give that donkey what he needs to do the job you are asking.

Need an idea for conditioning donkeys. Watch this…

Conditioning Donkey Idea Video

How to Ride a Donkey

Unless you bought one already trained to ride, you will need to train the donkey yourself! I have a Donkey Training Membership group and some videos on youtube that may be helpful to you. 

To follow case studies of many donkeys, learn to train and communicate with your donkey, check out my group here: Donkey Training Membership Group

If you are looking for a riding donkey already trained, watch this youtube video for tips on buying a riding donkey. Just because you can sit on the donkey doesn’t mean it is really broke to ride! Don’t forget to subscribe to my channel while your there!

Tips for Buying a Riding Donkey 


Saddle Donkeys are a Joy!

I want you to be successful with donkeys and the goals you have for them. Let me know if I can be of any help on your journey to the ‘donkey life’! I believe donkeys add joy to life and make it better. They are one of the most wonderful creatures God ever created… so long as you take the time it takes to learn about the donkey and ask fairly with clear communication, the donkey makes the most loyal, fun and even useful companion you’ll likely ever have.