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New Member Info

Welcome to the Hudson Valley Walk with Donkeys group! I've found that donkeys and the people who appreciate them are a special breed and I hope you share the same experience.

The purpose of this document is to provide some helpful information to get you off to a good start and to answer some frequently asked questions. When you're done reading this, click on the "Photos", "Pages", or "Discussions" links above for more on this group's activities.

What are Miniature Donkeys?

Miniature Donkeys are the smaller class of donkeys and by definition, are no taller than 36" at the shoulder (withers).

Here is a nice introductory video:

Contrary to what some people believe, donkeys are not mean and they do not kick or bite (unless, like any animal, they are mistreated). They are calm, affectionate, strong and smart animals. They are not "stubborn", but they do have a strong sense of self-preservation and will not do anything they feel is unsafe. So, when they are not cooperating, it is because there is something they are concerned about and it is our job to help them work through that. Many people find that leading my donkeys on a trail is easier than leading dogs they've owned or known.

Also see the More About Donkeys section at the end of this page for more background information on donkeys.

"Donkey 101" events

New members should try to attend a "Donkey 101" event when offered and preferably before your first regular hiking event (although the scheduling of 101 events does not always make this possible). Donkey 101 events are held here at Donkey Park. Their purpose is to acquaint you with my herd of donkeys, donkey behavior, and to provide hands-on training on leading a donkey. At the conclusion of each 101 event, we lead the donkeys on a short 3/4 mile walk. Attending a 101 event used to be a requirement in order to lead the donkeys during a trail walk, but now we have enough experienced members so that if you can't make a Donkey 101 session beforehand, we can give you on-the-job training during the hike so that by the end of the hike, you'll be able to lead a donkey.

Leading A Donkey on a Walk

Currently, due to trailer size limitations, I can only bring four donkeys on a walk which means that everyone attending has to share and rotate their time with the donkeys. This usually works very well on a voluntary basis and everyone gets enough one-on-one time. Which donkeys I bring to a walk changes each hike and is determined by several factors which generally have more to do with the nature and challenge of the walk (although I do try as much as possible to bring those donkeys that are the favorites of those attending).

Event Participation

We all have busy lives and this group's event schedule does not always cooperate with your schedule. I'll do my best to vary the days and locations of our events to maximize the opportunities for you to participate. I always welcome your suggestions for event locations and feedback on completed events. Positive feedback is always appreciated, but so is constructive criticism.

Of course, what you get out of any event is largely influenced by what you bring to it. But, we do have a great group of friendly, down-to-earth members which make it very comfortable for new members to feel included.

The one important thing I ask of people is that once they sign up for an event, if your plans change, please go to the site and un-RSVP as soon as you can, or if it's a last minute thing the day of the event, please call, text or email me to let me know. That allows people on waiting lists to attend and helps me manage the events as I will try to wait for everyone to arrive before starting the event. I recognize that life often throws a wrench into our plans, particularly on weekends, so no problem if you can't attend, please just let me know. smile adTHANKSvance

Preparing for Events

The main requirement for working with the donkeys is to be wearing shoes or boots which are closed and not too light. It is rare to be stepped on, but it does occasionally happen by accident. Open-toed shoes or sandals are not appropriate. For events here at Donkey Park, while I generally keep the grounds very clean, donkeys can defecate at any time and/or you can encounter mud during wet weather, so you might also want to consider wearing footwear that can get dirty.

Otherwise, you should prepare for our events like you would for any hike. Make sure you're wearing appropriate clothing and footwear and that you bring any water or snack that you feel you will need. Sometimes our walks occur on easy trails such as rail trails which are flat and less-supportive comfortable shoes are fine. Other hikes can be on more mountainous terrain where heavier, more supportive footwear is recommended.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Can I bring the donkey's treats/food?
A: Thank you for the thought, but please don't. The donkeys love treats like carrots and apples and mint, but it's important for their training that they associate visitors with affection rather than food. Also, food can cause them to become competitive with each other which creates unwanted, and sometimes unsafe, behaviors. I will always carry some treats for them at our events which I will pass out to members to distribute to the donkeys when appropriate.

Q: What is Donkey Park?
A: Donkey Park is my property which I share with my donkeys. Most people call the place they raise their animals a farm or ranch. I do not breed my donkeys for sale and their living area is in a nice shady area with large trees which complements the donkey's own relaxed nature. So, to me, it just seems more akin to a "park" than a farm. There is a page on this site where you can see videos of the donkeys here at Donkey Park: Donkey Park Videos

Q: Can I visit Donkey Park?
A: Members are always welcome to visit Donkey Park anytime outside of events. Please contact me ahead of time to let me know when you'd like to come. I enjoy sharing the donkeys and the extra attention is good for their socialization.

Q: Can I bring a child or young adult?
A: Sure. The donkeys are naturally very calm and patient with people of all ages, even toddlers. The only requirement is that parents must supervise younger children so that they do not accidentally get stepped on or engage in any behavior that is unsafe or unhealthy for them or the donkeys.

Q: Is there a cost for events?
A: Rarely. The only time I ask for a fee is when we undertake a hike for which I have to pay to acquire special permits or when we have group party for which I need to purchase items. This is 2-3 events a year and it is always made clear in the event description before you sign up. Otherwise, it's my pleasure to share these wonderful animals with the community.

Q: What are the Little Brays of Sunshine?
A: The Little Brays of Sunshine (LBoS) is the name my miniature donkeys go by when they are serving as donkey ambassadors. The LBoS serve as donkey ambassadors and "therapy donkeys" visiting schools, nursing homes, fairs, etc. LBoS events are separate from this meetup group's events, but I will often post them here because these events are of interest to members of this meetup group and also because several members of this meetup group are volunteer handlers for the LBoS. This walk with donkeys meetup group actually grew out of the LBoS project as a way to better train handlers and socialize the donkeys, but it has developed a life of it's own. If you are interested in volunteering as a handler or helper, please see our Little Brays of Sunshine meetup page.

Q: How did I (Steve) get started with donkeys?
A: I will be linking to a separate story about that soon. Feel free to ask me in person until then.

More About Donkeys
The scientific name for donkeys is equus africanus assinus. Technically, they are "asses" and part of the equidae family which also consists of horses and zebras. Donkeys are also referred to using the Spanish term burro, although in the U.S., the term typically refers to the wild, standard-sized donkeys that live in the Western U.S..

A mule is a hybrid between a female horse and a male donkey. A hinny is the reverse. Hybrids between donkeys and zebras are typically referred to as zonkeys, zedonks, or zebrasses.

Donkeys are considered to be smarter and stronger than their horse cousin. This is most likely due to their being "fight" animals rather than "flight" animals. Mules benefit from hybrid vigor and are typically smarter and stronger than either parent.

Currently, donkeys are classified into three size ranges: miniature, standard, and mammoth. Miniatures are donkeys up to 36" at the withers (shoulder), standards are 37"-54", and mammoths are 54" inches and above. Mammoth donkeys can get as large as draft horses and are typically used to breed mules.

A female donkey is called a jennet or jenny. A male donkey is called a jack (hence the term "jackass"). If not used for breeding, jacks are generally castrated at which point they are called geldings. Castrating jacks is done both to prevent breeding and also to prevent aggressive behaviors related to breeding instincts. Baby donkeys (up to 1 year) are called foals.

Donkeys originated in northern Africa and are best adopted for arid climates although they can adapt well to much colder climates. They can go for several days without water and can extract maximum nutrition out of sparse and hard to digest vegetation. They are strong, sure-footed and well-adapted to rugged terrain and combined with their calm, intelligent nature, they are often used to carry packs and people in areas that horses cannot.

Donkeys have been domesticated by man for 5000 years and there is perhaps no species of animal that has worked harder for man than the donkey. In the U.S., they are typically used as pets, companion animals, and guard animals. However, in many areas of the world, they still serve as the vital work-horses in many economies carrying loads and people. Donkey milk is considered the closest animal milk to human milk. It was used as an alternative source of milk by early U.S. settlers and is still used around the world. In some areas of the world, particularly Asia, donkey meat is eaten and considered an excellent food.

Table of Contents

Page title Most recent update Last edited by
Media February 1, 2019 1:14 AM Steve S.
Coon Jumping July 19, 2017 10:00 PM Steve S.
New Member Info September 2, 2017 10:25 AM Steve S.
Dakota Videos January 21, 2015 8:54 PM Steve S.
Video of our group events November 22, 2015 10:48 PM Steve S.
Donkey Park Videos November 26, 2016 3:01 PM Steve S.
About Hudson Valley Walk with Donkeys May 10, 2017 7:14 PM Steve S.

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