Imagine the pleasure of being in a carriage drawn by two donkeys and taken around the town and countryside! On my last visit to a super foster home in Surrey I was met by the sight of Paddy and Bobby being “put to” when they were attached to the cart with their driving harness.
Our wonderful foster owner Caroline has spent a couple of years gently and patiently preparing her two foster donkeys to drive as a pair.
A lot of skill, practice and patience has been involved during this time. Both donkeys as you can see are a good match which is always a bonus in terms of height and colour for driving!
Initially Bobby was taught how to drive first, as Caroline explained he was a year older and had naturally a more patient demeanour.
Paddy being the younger of the two by a year was naturally more energetic and keen to get on with things in more of a hurry! Once Bobby had gained some driving experience then it was easier to get Paddy to accompany him on some gentle drives around the fields initially before they were then taken onto the road.
Both donkeys had undergone periods of being long reined, whereby they are driven from the ground by a person behind them on foot. They had also both individually got used to pulling a tyre behind them in preparation for pulling a vehicle.
Needless to say the donkeys were incredibly well behaved on our drive. They stopped at junctions and waited patiently for traffic lights to change, as well as encountering lorries and cars as well as motorbikes.
The reaction the donkeys got was priceless! A man up a ladder stopped and waved to us, school children ran to the railings to see the donkeys, women with babies in pushchairs stopped to admire the boys and generally we were met and greeted by all manner of people going about their daily business all with a huge grin on their faces. Donkeys really can have that effect on people!
When we arrived back safely at the yard I asked Caroline how she enjoyed the experience and she replied “you need a lot of time and patience as well as a good sense of humour to work with donkeys…but they are worth every moment of it”.