Me and JuJu the donkey have had only one major obstacle to overcome together, and that was coming home. Whenever I put on her halter and took the lead rope we'd happily walk together UNTIL she began running from me when we'd make the trek back towards the cabin. Understandable, she wanted the walk to go on forever... or at least alot longer, but I didn't or couldn't so the whole runaway game was really sucking for me.
In everything else she was gentle - lifting hooves, putting on a halter, making friends with strangers, walking through new (even scary) places, learning new tricks like how to roll a bucket or open a door with her nose, she even walks right through the creeks here.
Yesterday I dared to take her on a hike with me and Bort (even though it could have made it a stressful disaster) - it wasn't till we reached our destination ( the round house) that I learned something about JuJu that I am so excited about I am still about to piss myself in amazement...
Bort found a gravity fed spring water pump at the round house and turned it on to see if it would spray water. Up until this point I had held the lead rope, and JuJu walked fairly quickly sometimes pulling me... but when that water sprayed it spooked her and in an unusual donkey fashion (cause they usually freeze & stand still) she decided that the spray of the water pump was terrifying enough that it was time to haul ass! I tried saying "WHOA" and "STOP" but she was too scared and ran even faster, so I let the rope go.
In that moment I felt myself give up - give up completely the struggle because the donkey would always be stronger then me and would always know it. She ran a good ways back up the trail we had come from and in my surrender I decided to try something different then before. I decided not to go find her, but to wait and see what she would do. Within about 5 minutes she came back on her own accord, and from then on EVERYTHING changed!!!! I rewarded her for coming back and then tied her lead rope back so it wouldn't drag on the ground and I didn't touch the rope again. I let her decide to follow us as we hiked. That's when we all relaxed and started to really have fun! Gathering wildflower & tree seeds, while JuJu grazed.
JuJu went at her own pace, sometimes getting ahead of us, but mostly happily walking behind us, stopping when we would stop, sometimes wondering off to sniff & nibble - but always running to catch up and never wanting us to be out of ear shot or sight. I did not touch the rope. She walked all the way home, with no issues, she jumped over the larger creek, she hung out outside the cabin and around the pond eating grass...
and the clincher....... she went back IN THE GATE on her own.
The Fanny Pack full of treats, all the scratching, singing, love and care I have been putting my heart into has finally created the bond I had hoped for! JuJu is my herd and my friend. (I jus' hope she wasn't showing off for Bort!)