Donkey godmother #2
My next donkey godmother is Carol Limmer. She saw me on a donkey forum (yes, there is such a thing), and immediately offered all the help she could. She walks with her donkey Echo, and is the only person I’ve spoken to so far who really does so in the UK. Echo and Carol, along with their friends Olwen and her donkey go on long weekends, identifying a B&B with stabling (from the British Horse Society book, Horses Welcome), and drive the donkeys to within a nice day’s walk of the place. Then they walk to it, with both donkeys laden. Day two and three they do round walks from the B&B, leaving their night luggage there so that one of the donkeys is unladen each day, and then on day four they head back to the horsebox.
Thankfully Carol is happy to hand over her knowledge, and has sent me lots of pictures and her whole packing list (it’s below), including online catalogue reference numbers, when I emailed back saying, “Egads! What’s a crupper, curry comb, coupling, cantle bag and fur fabric girth sleeve?”
I got to meet Carol at the Manchester Donkey Sanctuary centre when she was giving a talk on donkey trekking. There were a dozen vaguely interested people there, and me – taking notes, video, photos, measurements etc about everything, eating biscuits, borrowing kit and trying to inhale their experience.
Carol has also helped me on several occasions when I’ve called up in a panic wondering whether the perfectly happy-looking donkey was committing grass-gluttony suicide before my eyes, and whether it was a bad sign that he had charged through the electric fence. She weighed and measured her pack saddle for me, and sent me test results after her donkey kindly wore it up and down steeps in a quarry, and tried to buck it off. With uncanny timing she advised me just to let go of the rope when necessary, just before stalliongeddon happened. She also found and recommended the leather donkey sandals that I now have a pair of. Hopefully she and Olwen and their donkey entourage will come and walk a few days in north Wales.
And how’s this for a wonderful quote (bear in mind that she’s a no-nonsense un-soppy northerner):
“You are young, Hannah, full of enthusiasm for this trip, and that is exactly as it should be. I don’t know if you are an animal person, but donkeys are a bit special. They can read you for sure, and when you spend time with them you will find they have the ability to see into your very soul. You might think I’m talking absolute rubbish now but a few weeks into your trip you may understand what I mean. Donkeys came into my life almost 40 years ago and they have remained ever since.”
Carol’s packing list
headcollar plus a spare in case of breakage
long lead rope plus a spare (2.5 metre)
coupling to each bit ring, for your lead rein to attach to
day-glow for you
extra thick pack pad
girth sleeve in case of rubs
poly pad in case of breast plate/breeching rub
soft crupper and attachment – for downhills and stops saddle constantly slipping forward
top pack for stuff you need to access quickly – waterproofs, hat, gloves, extra layers
bum bag for your phone, suncream, camera, money
water bottle holder to hang off saddle
first aid kits – you and donkey
lightweight waterproof rug
collapsable water bucket
fly repellent for donkey and you
hoof pick with stiff bristles on one end
horse shoe nail, sharp end stuck in a cork – for digging out the stones that you can’t get with the hoofpick. Once got stabbed in the thigh with a horseshoe nail in my trouser pocket!!
dandy brush, soft face brush, rubber curry comb
DONKEY’S PASSPORT – you are legally required to carry it. I’ve never been asked to show it.
OS maps & case
tethering rope/chain & attachment
six webbing straps