Coco lives permanently at one of our bases in Scotland. In June this year he found himself being exhibited in the Donkey Section at The Royal Highland Show. He was entered in the Stallion/Gelding Class and came fourth, winning a huge green rosette. When the audience heard he was one of our donkeys what a cheer went up and the applause was deafening. Coco took it all in his stride.
When Coco first arrived at the base he was a very nervous donkey, quite happy to be groomed and have his feet trimmed but he didn’t like being led around. So, it was back to the drawing board. Jacqui, a volunteer took up the ‘reins’ and has worked hard with Coco restoring his confidence when leading under the watchful eye of our Donkey Welfare Adviser.
Every morning Coco is led out to his paddock and back to his stable in the afternoon. A head collar and lead rope is used for this task. What we did discover when leading, Coco tucked his tail tight between his hind legs. Obviously afraid of what was to happen to him. So, to start his schooling he was taken for walks in the ménage. This extended to walking up and down the farm road and then in our woods. He started to relax and enjoy going out.
Next step was to introduce him to a bridle and bit. He took to this quite easily and was happy with the bit in his mouth. He began to walk with purpose.
In donkey showing classes the animal is expected to trot. Coco took a bit of persuasion to do this. It was almost as if he was saying “I like walking, but trotting, come on!” So back again to the drawing board. How do we teach him to trot? Simple, walk him to the top of the farm road, turn and trot back! Going home, not a problem. Coco soon learned to trot from voice commands and a few times almost left Jacqui behind! He still has a few rough edges when trotting but practice will make perfect. You’ll see.
Since those early days, Coco has come on leaps and bounds. He went on a few outings last year for us and held his own. Whether it was a show or a representation from The Donkey Sanctuary. This year sees him gaining more confidence and beginning to enjoy the lime-light. His diary is already filling up for 2016.
It shows what you can do with patience and team work… and a few treats!