In reality, my miniature donkey are my pets. We enjoy taking long walks, packing, and clicker training, as well as just sitting in the sun.
Sweet Pea looking great in her pack saddle (from Llama Hardware).
Donkeys are very hardy animals who to me embody the zen minimalist approach to life. They move slowly and take everything in stride. People often hear about donkeys being stubborn, and it's true that my donkeys can plant their feet in a most impressive and impossibly frustrating way. They do not respond to situations in the same way as horses do which can be confusing to some people. Having evolved in the desert where running doesn't get you much, they have developed a cautious nature and their first response is to freeze and evaluate. If they don't think your idea is a good one, don't count on them to go along with it. However they are very smart and easy to train. I use clicker training to work with my donkeys and I am very impressed with how quickly they learn. I wish I could make more time to train! Donkeys can pull carts, pack, and participate in shows and competitions. Luckily, they have very long lifespans (35-45 years) so we still have lots of time to have fun together.
Unlike miniature horses, miniature donkeys are not small because they have been bred down, but rather because they are from the islands of Sicily and Sardinia. To be considered miniature, an animal must stand 36" or less to the withers. Since miniature donkeys are herd animals and cannot guard a flock, they should never be kept alone - all the better because you can have two fuzzy lovable friends! Besides being adorable, they are extremely affectionate and make wonderful companions.
Rufus is ready for a walk during hunting season
Our holiday card tradition.
Donkeys can make excellent guard animals. They naturally dislike dogs and can do a lot of damage to a pack of coyotes if they feel threatened. The best choice for a flock guardian is a full-size jenny or gelding who is already comfortable around sheep. One should never rely on a miniature donkey to guard a flock. That said, we feel that having the donkeys around does help us out - we never have had any problems with coyotes and the donkeys bray loudly or snort to sound the alarm and scare away other animals. Some individual donkey personalities are more given to guarding than others and our jenny, Sweet Pea, definitely has one of these. She has slowly shown the groundhogs in our field that this is her area and they had better find another home (hopefully not too close to our garden!).