The Eastern Region of the Donkey Breed Society held a Learn to Drive your Donkey Day at the wonderful facilities of Annette Staveley, the Regional Delegate for this area. Annette has the benefit of an indoor school and covered areas suitable for all sorts of activities so the, often wayward, British weather could do what it liked!
However, we were blessed with a gorgeous sunny day and nearly 30 people turned up to watch, learn, listen and 'have a go'. Because so many owners of rehomed donkeys in my area had expressed an interest in doing more with their donkeys I had contacted anybody I thought may be interested and the response was fantastic.
Annette had rigged up a practice long reining piece of equipment with reins over pulleys attached to small bags of sand, so that people could get a feel as to the right pressure to use on the donkey's mouth and also learn how to correctly hold the reins. Jo Cordell gave a long reining display with her donkey, Cerys, and explained what equipment would be needed, adding that it needn't be expensive to try this at home. Most people then felt confident enough to try it themselves and there were many beaming smiles as they realised they could do it.
Another group under the tutelage of Carol Travell learnt how to correctly fit a harness and trap whilst others were having a go at donkey agility using simple objects like upended drainpipes to walk over, cones, bunting and blue plastic sheeting as pretend water.
After a short break for lunch and flushed with the success of the morning's activities, a donkey was harnessed to a trap and the joys of driving a donkey were experienced by all. Driving does require a helper and also some fairly expensive equipment and perhaps is not for all but certainly long reining and agility are easily done at home, providing stimulation for your donkey as well as that essential exercise. Fewer hours in a day for your donkey to eat and the weight to creep on!
Annette is keen to hold another day later in the year and has a day dealing with showing and trimming your donkey on Saturday 2nd April. Anybody interested in future events or joining please contact Annette on 01284 830240 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your donkeys will love all the extra attention and interest you can provide for them!