Meet Aspro, a very elderly ex-working donkey gelding who, as well as no longer being able to work, came to us with some severe behavioural issues.
We'd met Aspro on two Community Programme visits and soon discovered how he really didn't want anyone to go near his feet or teeth. Despite trying everything we could think of, we weren't able to handle him as he was so determined to keep us away that he became dangerous.
His elderly owner had only had him a few years, not realising how difficult the donkey could be and when he asked us to take Aspro in, we thought we would have problems loading him in our trailer. Amazingly, he walked straight on! However, on arrival, he soon reverted to 'normal' and the carers had to be extremely careful when feeding him and cleaning his paddock and stable. Over the years we found that in most situations, when a nervous, frightened donkey joins the others, they soon begin to realise that we're there to help them. Sure enough, and very slowly, Aspro got used to the routine and his behaviour began to improve.
Recently we noticed that he was spending a lot of time with his head through the fence looking at the Special Needs group of donkeys. We wondered if he might be trying to tell us he would prefer to be with a different group and so we moved him. As a result, his behaviour has improved even more and we think he must be grateful for being away from the energetic youngsters!
Although still a little difficult when having his teeth and feet done, he now lets us catch him easily, groom him and was absolutely brilliant when we had to treat a sore wound. Who says you can't teach an old donkey new things?!