Donkey watch: the problem with manual over-ride
Yesterday I hitched Jethro to his lovely new cart. We went over to my ex-husband's house and picked up his wife and their two small children and, as the grandparents snapped pictures, we ambled down the driveway and went on a peaceful, extended walk.
Today, I offered my painting friend Mike a ride and off we went. Coming down a hill Jethro broke into a trot, and I was so excited I ran alongside him. All the thrills, the noise, the banging and whatnot - it was all just too much for my skittish equid. If Jethro were a cartoon character he'd have had red-and-white spirals turning in his eye sockets.
He stopped listening and sped up. His spiral eyes were rotating. I barked "WALK" and then "STOP" but there was more wild trotting. (Trotting is faster than it sounds.)
The problem is, a donkey is equipped with manual over-ride.
- Under rational circumstances, a donkey will evaluate an unusual situation and come to its own conclusion regarding the correct action. It will then decide whether to follow your suggested response or go with its own preferred option.
- Under stressful circumstances (say, when the donkey has frightened itself by moving too fast, or when there is a particularly threatening umbrella in the vicinity), listening and thinking cease. Unfortunately, as with human beings, lack of thought does not preclude action.
Soon Jethro stopped and continued down the road as if nothing had happened. I'm banged up a bit, Mike is fine, but I keep thinking with horror that this could have happened yesterday when I had kids in the cart. We are definitely not ready for prime time.