Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Great Burro Turnaround

by Linda Benson

One of the things you may not know about me is that I raised donkeys for a number of years. (Donkeys and burros are the same animal, by the way. Burro is a Spanish word mostly given to the wild donkeys of the western United States.) Donkeys come in several sizes: miniature, standard, large standard, and mammoth. I raised large standard spotted donkeys, and it was some of the most fun I ever had in my life.

Two of the donkey foals that I raised: Jasmine and Buttons.
After years and years with horses, it was fun to learn another equine mind. Donkeys are not stubborn, they simply choose to think more than horses. They rarely panic and bolt like a horse, but often freeze in a new situation, while they stew on things. Therefore - patience and kindness win the day (and the donkey.) In fact, it is my sincere belief that donkeys were put on this earth in order to teach humans patience. (And also provide them with comic relief.)
My very best equine friend in life (I realize most of you will name your favorite horse) was a big dark brown jenny named Josie. I loved her, loved her, loved her. Sadly, she lost her battle with laminitis at one point, and we humanely put her down. I cried a thousand tears.
Josie was the mother of Jasmine, spotted foal in top picture.
The reason I became so close to Josie is that she was wild as a march hare when we bought her. She busted through several fence panels as we attempted to load her in our stock trailer, and it took me fully one year before I could pick up all of her feet. But as you can see, once I finally gained her trust, she was forever in my pocket. I even taught horsemanship lessons with her, eventually teaching youngsters the correct way to pick up feet (because Josie would patiently hold them up all day.) Amazing, huh?
During Josie's last days, I bought another little brown donkey named Chester, as a friend for her. But it wasn't the right fit, and I ended up selling Chester to a lovely woman named Danni. She and I kept in touch through the internet, and Danni ended up with another rather wild donkey (donkeys are catching, be warned) that she named Beau.
Chester and Beau
Beau eventually settled into a very sweet donkey also. And now my friend Danni has just been chosen to be a participant in the upcoming 2015 Great Burro Turnaround, where contestants will have 100 days to gentle and train a completely wild BLM donkey. Similar to the Mustang Makeovers, the donkeys will then be shown to the public and hopefully find a new home.
Danni just found out she was selected, and she'll meet her new donkey tomorrow! It might be one of these:
I am so excited for Danni. She's going to be blogging about her new donkey adventure right here, if you want to follow along: and I will be right there with her in spirit.
Have you owned a donkey? Ever tamed a wild BLM donkey? Tell us!


  1. I so love our history, Linda! Every day I am grateful for my Chester and I have YOU to thank for him!
    You can bet I'll be watching him very closely to see his reaction to the new burro! There will be a million stories to tell, I'm sure!
    Thanks for writing about this!

  2. Donkeys and burros are really neat animals! My wife is a veterinarian in the Gluck Equine Research Center at the University of Kentucky. She has taken several groups of students to experience the horse industry in Ireland over the last few years and they usually make a stop at the Donkey Sanctuary in County Cork. Here is a link for more information:

  3. Danni - Good luck with your new project. Can't wait to see which one you get! Milt - thanks for posting that link. The Donkey Sanctuary does such good work, especially for neglected and abandoned donkeys. One of the reasons I quit breeding donkeys was the sheer numbers of rounded-up wild donkeys that I saw when visiting a BLM holding facility. I was absolutely blown away. With so many of them needing homes, I realized I didn't need to bring any more into the world. And the wild ones do tame down, some rather rapidly, and make wonderful pets. Donkeys are indeed, incredible animals.

  4. As it so happens, the donkey you pictured above from the corrals is the *exact* donkey that was selected for Danni! She and the newly named "Princess Buttercup" seem to be getting along very well. :-)

  5. I know, Heather. Isn't that funny? Buttercup must have known I was going to write this, and wanted to make sure I got the right donkey pictured. I've been following Danni's progress on her blog, and this little donkey is a sweetheart!