Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Donkey watch: in which I discover the awesome power of a plastic bag.

I know those supermarket plastic bags are bad for the environment, but I've found a good use for one of them, at least...

One of the next steps on Jethro's road to carrying me to the grocery store: learning to "lunge" in his round pen. Lunge seems to come from lungeline which came from longeline (some Franglaise aberration I guess).

However, whether on a line or not he seemed uninclined to comply with the three basic commands, i.e. WALK, TROT, and, especially, STOP.

Well, he was good at STOP if you count not moving at all as stopping.

At the Dixie Draft Horse, Mule, and Carriage Auction I bought one of those Ringling Brothers circus whips with a long end that will crack (if you learn how). When I tried this, he gave me a look of withering scorn and then turned his head away. Total, humiliating defeat.

Then I turned for help to the "Donkeys" list at yahoo. Their suggestion, unanimously: a plastic bag on the end of a stick.

Oddly, this works like a charm. A real whip, nothing. A shaken plastic bag, awesome obedience. What is so scary about a shaken plastic bag?

Jethro has so very many opinions. For instance, it is his opinion that he will never take a step into the trailer I got for him, and it had recently been his opinion that he would never even walk PAST that trailer, and since the driveway leads past the trailer, we were at an annoying impasse.

Shaken plastic bag: suddenly no problem getting past that spot. I haven't had the nerve yet to try to use it hustling him up into the trailer...

I took the magic stick, tucked under my left arm, when we went on a walk today. Previously, when he decided we would have a poky walk, we poked. I tried "step it up" and "hurry up" and slapping his rear end and hauling on his halter to no avail. Magic stick: suddenly STEP IT UP is a perfectly understood command.

Another question: why is a shaken plastic bag so effective with ALL donkeys? What, in the wilds of North Africa, sounds like a shaken plastic bag and eats donkeys?




At 11:34 AM, Blogger Hannah said...

Ma, what do the trainers say about the use of the words "walk" "trot" and "stop"? I just realized that they all have the basically same vowel sound - not to excuse his balky behavior, but I'm not sure even I would always understand which of those 3 words was being yelled at me from 20 feet away...?

At 8:19 PM, Anonymous --Lisa S. said...

Rattlesnake? No, I guess not.


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