Thursday, September 30, 2010

Meet The Honkers

Bianca, 15, and daughter Fiona, 12

In late September of 1997, Bianca was a two year old pregnant wild donkey rounded up by the US Department of the Interior as part of their "Adopt A Living Legend" program.  A home was quickly found for the young burros and for the next decade mother and daughter lived happily in their small donkey world. 

Sadly, two years ago the poor economy forced a major change upon their lives. I met the girls at Bend Equine Outreach and on September 15 of this year life changed for the pink honker's yet again. They now live on a fenced acre with my three Nubian goats, Donatello, Lucciano, and Peppino.

It became abundantly clear after a veterinarian visit to my home that both donkey's must accept a halter (and handling).  While Bianca moves well on lead and is very calm and gentle, daughter  Fiona on the other hand is...well... a bit skittish. She has never worn halter that I know of and rarely leaves her mother's side. Perhaps it was more convenient to simply halter Bianca and have Fiona follow, all their lives.

This week, Bianca had a nice tooth treatment while Fiona lurked just out of reach. Not wanting to sour Fiona to future veterinarian care, we chose to wait until she was more easily handled before attempting an examination.

I quickly ordered "The Click That Teaches" by Alexandra Kurland to help this equine newbie out and kicked our training into high gear! I had taught both burro's to target my hand and had just begun to shape Fiona to touch the halter. Today: success as Fiona stepped into the halter and stood still as I lifted it over her nose and behind her ears.

Training Goal: Fiona to accept a halter

Fiona's third training session with halter:

Step 1: Touch halter

Step 2: Place nose in halter

Step 3: Stand still as halter goes over nose
Step 4: Yay! Allow halter to slip over ears

The power of a tiny carrot and a well timed click!

The ladies watch the proceedings closely
We have a long way to go, but I am so looking forward to the journey!

Happy Training!

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