About the donkey
‘When you find the right donkey, you will know,’ said the donkey people. I’m not much of a ‘just know’ sort of person – I am a weigher-upper. But guess what, it happened. It’s Chico time. Chico is a five-year-old gelding (de-testicled male), and he just wants to walk. He’s got energy and is keen to look around, plus he has pretty eyes, and that was enough for me. I found him on a last-ditch visit to a donkey dealer in Shropshire, Stonehill Donkeys, hoping that I wouldn’t complicate matters by falling for a new donkey, but would go home and settle for the sweet-natured plodder, Dolly.
It was not to be. Chico stole my heart. Since then I have wondered what I’ve let myself in for with his spirit and vim, but so far (note that I’m writing pre-departure) his sparkiness seems a very good thing. Will he take to the open road? The lack of timetable? Different overnight spots every night? The weight on the pack saddle? Will he be quick all day long, or have I only seen him in sprint mode so far? What will really make him plant those hooves? We will find out… Keep an eye on the blog and you will too.
So far, this much we know:
carrots, dandelions, pain au chocolat, rolling in mud, stallion poo, fuss and company, being groomed, eating the fencepost, the massive gorse bush, chicory, Mum’s allotment mint leaves
Chico doesn’t like
dogs, going back into the field after a walk, his rain mac, rain, cats, sheep, cows, having his hooves picked up, having his tail touched, wild mint leaves
Chico doesn’t mind
cars, low-flying aircraft, his pack saddle, the tents, the flare candle, children
(A little backstory. Before Chico there was this one, Mali, but it turned out that she hadn’t had enough handling for a novice muleteer like me – more details about all that in this blog post here. Then there was a lot of stressful donkey hunting mentioned here and here. It’s not been plain sailing with Chico as it seems donkeys can die of all sorts of things; read about these things here and here.)