This may seem like sort of a silly thing to teach your donkey, but I have gotten out of more scrapes than I can count with this technique. When I was training Charlie, I taught him to lead by any of his feet and boy, did it save me some major trouble! Charlie won’t get in the trailer today? No problem! Just rope a foot and walk him in! Charlie doesn’t want to step into a stream and cross it? No problem!
The reason I have today for teaching my donkeys this is that in order for them to be able to graze on our trek, they will have to be staked with a long cotton rope to a hobble in order to get meals. The highline will be used for after dinner at night. It is no fun having an animal get stressed while staked to the ground, so practicing beforehand is a great way to go!
Today I worked with the other two donkeys (and Charlie too just so he wouldn’t feel left out…) on picking up either front foot and leading around the paddock. Then I left the rope dangling off of both front feet so that they could experience it dragging behind them. Easy peesy. No scary stuff, just having fun. All of the donkeys did great and were able to lead, turn, and back up with this technique.
The other great thing about teaching your donkey this is that if your donkey, say, gets caught in a fence or wire, they are more likely to stay calm and give to the pressure on their leg than pulling and hurting themselves. Donkeys aren’t prone to stupidity when it comes to getting caught up in fence…I once had a donkey get cast (stuck) upside down in a stall with her foot in the rail. She stayed there, asleep, until help came. Still, it is always a good idea to get your donkey used to things around their feet and legs. You never know when it might come in handy.