By Carol Wadey, Edson, AB, Canada
It all started back in the fall of 1993 when I read an
article about miniature donkeys. I was intrigued and visited
some breeders, bringing our 2-1/2 year old daughter,
Rae-Anne along. While at the Cooke’s farm, visiting with
their herd of jennets I realized Rae-Anne was walking up to
their hind ends, which were pretty much at eye level for
her, and lifting their tails to have a look at what was
underneath. Not one of the donkeys so much as flicked an
ear; they just seemed to enjoy the attention, no matter what
it was. I was hooked on the idea of children and donkeys,
and by the spring of 1994 our first longears arrived at our
farm. Our second daughter, Robyn, arrived in the fall, so
both girls grew up having miniature donkeys to play with and
People would ask, “They’re cute, but what do you do with them?” Let’s see…parades, shows, fairs, trail riding, driving, Christmas concerts, school and nursing home visits. We’ve dressed them in practically any costume imaginable. We’ve taken them along to endurance rides, which we participate in with our horses, for the kids to enjoy after the ride and hosted “Donkey Day,” as well as many school groups, at our farm. I think every country kid that loves equines should have a couple of small donkeys. They are the perfect way for young children to learn how to groom, lead, ride, and care for an equine more their size, and they are so safe to be around. Although the girls are now grown, we haven’t had any foals for several years and our jack now resides elsewhere, we still have nine miniatures. They are fun for grownups too!
In 2007, while attending the Miniature Donkey Extravaganza in Red Deer, a cute little Appaloosa mule donated to the fundraising auction became ours, and we entered the realm of mule ownership. After a steep learning curve for both Haylee the mule and her sole rider, our teen-aged daughter Robyn, Haylee has become a fun little mule to ride, and I do mean little; she is only 12.3 hands and 650 pounds. Robyn’s goal was to compete in endurance rides with her, and to date, they have completed five 25-mile rides and one 50-mile ride. As a point of interest, a mule by the name of Miles placed third in the American Endurance Ride Conference’s 2012 National Mileage Championship with a total of 2025 miles of competition. Robyn and Haylee attended a Jerry Tindell clinic in 2012, which improved their partnership immensely, and they had a lot of fun at the Tees Longears Days, the highlight being their participation in the drill team.
Meanwhile, a neglected small standard donkey came to my attention in the spring of 2011. Harry arrived at our farm several weeks later, and, after returning his “Aladdin’s slippers” feet to normal and giving him a haircut to remove the mats and some loving attention, he is a much happier donkey. Harry is unique in that he sports a mane that lies down and a forelock. This leads us to believe he is part Poitou, which is an old French breed of donkey, the only breed known to have a horse-like mane and forelock.
Our long-eared equines are a source of enjoyment and amusement. They entertain us with their antics. They alert us, if we choose to pay attention, to danger, like the bedlam that awoke me in the night the day I found huge cougar tracks in the snow passing by their paddock and on through the yard.
The Wadey family has four horses at home and another on loan as a therapeutic riding horse, as well as their donkeys and mule. Carol has been an avid endurance rider since 1984 and has amassed almost 15,000 miles, many of those with her daughters, Robyn and Rae-Anne. She especially enjoys travelling to the U.S. to compete in multi-day rides along historic trails.