Do you dream of Riding Donkeys, aka. Saddle Donkeys?
If you do, you are not alone. Over the last few years, there has been a rising interest in riding donkeys, aka, saddle donkeys. It makes sense. They are lovable, approachable, overall non-reactive and less likely to go into a flight response. Most people feel safer around a donkey than a horse if they did not grow up with horses.
I am one of those people.
There was a time I tried very hard to make horses work in my life. But my energy and personality don’t go well with their energy and their natural instinctive traits.
I am not an assertive person. Horses knew they could ignore me and they felt my nervousness. I could not bond with a horse like I could with a donkey.
I also didn’t like their tendency to buck, bolt or rear when something didn’t go their way. Nor did I like spending hours, weeks and months training them only to have them need ‘refreshers’ if we took a break for a few weeks.
These are things that saddle donkeys typically do not have problems with.
Advantages of a Saddle Donkey
- Retain what you train! They rarely need refreshers. Once they understand it, they can do it and they remember it! If you can’t ride your donkey for a few weeks, months, years he will remember and not freak out about it when you are able to ride again.
- They rarely buck or rear. They don’t even bolt like a horse. When my saddle donkey doesn’t want to do something he typically gives me a hindquarter yield. It’s annoying but it won’t put me in the hospital! When some of the horses (I used to have) didn’t want to do something they bucked me off or bolted and ran crazy. Or acted like they would rear up.
- Donkeys are easy to train! I know I know, no one says this. But donkeys are easy to train! For me, they are SO much easier than a horse. And they actually learn faster to do some things than horses. Trust building, a foundation in +R and your ability to communicate with the individual donkey make all the difference.
- They offer a relaxing ride. I can take in the scenery, enjoy the fresh air and de-stress! They are not in a hurried pace. Exactly what I need for stress relief management.
- Easy to keep. Donkeys do not require the same upkeep as a horse. They eat less for an animal of the same size and they do not need all the grooming a horse needs. Donkeys typically are healthier and rarely ever need shoes. When I added horses to our farm our vet bills went through the roof! It seems nothing I did would keep them healthy. Constant struggle. Not so with donkeys. Yes they have needs but not like the horses I had.
Disadvantages of Saddle Donkeys
As with everything, if there are advantages, there are probably disadvantages. The following are not disadvantages to me personally. To some people though, these may be disadvantages and a horse may be a better choice.
- Donkeys like to go at a slower pace. If you want to canter around all the time a horse is probably a better choice. Yes, donkeys can canter but you typically have to keep spurs on them if you want them to go for long periods.
- Donkeys need a partnership. They want you to gain their trust and build a trusting relationship in order for them to do their best for you. You can’t be overly assertive or train a donkey primarily with -R methods like you can a horse. If you are a die-hard -R only trainer I’d say stick with horses.
- Choose the right animal for the right job. Donkeys are at a disadvantage if you want a fast barrel racer. They are probably not going to wow anyone as a Reiner, or with a cutting donkey either. Not that you can’t do similar things with a donkey but it’s not going to look like a horse. They have different genetic makeup. Horses have more short twitch muscles than donkeys which allow them to make those super sharp quick fast movements over and over. The Donkey has more long twitch muscles and doesn’t respond the same way.
Are riding Donkeys right for your plans?
So advantages or disadvantages? It depends on your goals and personal preferences, doesn’t it?
Believe me, I’m not hating on horses. They are gorgeous animals and they are perfect for many many people, just not me. I sure don’t want to ride them anymore.
But I love riding and the saddle donkey has been the perfect choice for me. Maybe it can be for you too? You have options! Riding isn’t strictly for horse owners. It seems here in America we forgot about the safest, sanest riding mount over the years.
Time to get donkeys back out on the trails!
Want to learn more about donkeys?
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Looking to get into Donkeys? You’ll need a trailer if you want to hit the trails.
We are doing a series on my youtube channel about our first trailer, moving up, the truck we use to pull and local horseback riding trail reviews. Many other donkey subjects on my youtube channel so don’t forget to subscribe!
Here is a short video on the truck we use to pull trailers and the modifications that need to be made if we want a gooseneck.