Plans / The blog

We’re outta here!

It’s a beautiful day in Aberystwyth-sur-la-mer, and little Chico is about to leave his field and head out into the world.  I think he suspects, what with all the pack-saddle action of the last few days, me taking the tents down yesterday, the new thank-you-snacks, and my super-excited body language. And he’s up for it. He’s begun stopping randomly around his field, looking longingly over his gate, and has mostly enjoyed being the centre of attention during the fourth and fifth ‘final’ saddle-fittings.

In serious eleventh-hour fashion, we have become friends. This is largely down to a visit from the ever calming, compassionate Tamlin, who came to help me get confident at picking up his feet. As well as all of the donkey-training methods, she also showed me three life-changing things:


Lemme at ’em

One: a pair of ordinary riding gloves with a grippy palm means that I can rub him reassuringly far more vigorously than hand alone will survive. £2.20 from the country store – I bought two pairs.

Two: rubbing his withers, where back and neck meet, actually lowers a donkey’s heart rate. It’s a chill-out-and-quickly-please button, and I really needed one of those.

And three: he likes having the inside of his ears rubbed. He really likes it. I’ve not used this info yet – those great caverns look a bit warm and waxy, and my gloves are brand new, albeit cheap. Maybe after today he’ll really warrant an inner ear scratching…

My increased confidence gives him more confidence, and we’re all happy in a virtuous circle of rubbing and scratching and high-fibre nuts. Yesterday he didn’t even have his customary fear-poo during the pack saddle (really, really final) fitting. And what luck, as today we’re off. A pre-startline, unladen walk from his field to Aberystwyth, ready for tomorrow’s 1pm (or so – we’re on donkey time) departure from the prom. It’s raining tomorrow, but if you are in the Aber area come along and feed him a cheerio carrot, near PD’s Diner so you can have a hot chocolate.



  1. Hi Hannah and Chico. Good luck for the big off.

    (A really small thing for sometime way later .. your posts don’t have a facebook share option on them. They have like but not share. I know I can share in facebook but I might not come across a post that way.)

  2. Bravo!:) Chico looks great and ready for this adventure! Glad to know those three tips thanks for sharing!
    Puzzle and Balin love the inside of their ears rubbed. I just to it with my fingers. They lower their heads almost to the ground, their lower lips droop, and they lay their ears back…pure donkey bliss!
    You are brave Hannah! I’ll be following you and Chico!

  3. have an amazing time, you will I’m sure!! what an adventure!!

  4. I hope the weather improves soon. Only just seen your blog and will be following you both. We are down in Pembrokeshire, so will hopefully meet you and perhaps join you for a while? Ali x (a lifelong donkey fan)

  5. What a handsome beast! Good luck to you both x

  6. Godspeed, Hannah and Chico. I’ve just learned of your grand adventure and will be following you every step of the way.

  7. Following you from California. Have a grand adventure!

  8. Nancy in Iowa says:

    I just discovered you, thanks to Carson at the 7MSN Ranch. I’m looking forward to following your travels with Chico – what a grand adventure! I visited Aberytswith nearly 40 years ago on a camping (caravan?) trip around the UK. Chico is a handsome companion – best wishes to you both!

  9. Happy Travels!! How exciting to be setting out today. I’m over here via the 7MSN Ranch and I have a bit of catching up to do. I wish my home was on your route – I’d have you in for tea and let Chico enjoy all the green grass we have growing in your fields. I’ll have to settle for cheering you on from across the great big blue ocean.


  10. colleen from nc says:

    What a great adventure. I have a daughter Hannah and know a horse I’m feeling connected. Good travels and blessings!!

  11. Linda Edwards says:

    Just discovered your grand adventure through the 7 MSN website and am looking forward to hearing about your travels. Wishing you a smooth beginning and safe travels from here in Tennessee.

  12. Hello Hannah,
    I need to talk to you!!!
    I’m about to train a donkey and walk the Camino de Santiago, in Spain.
    I know very little about donkeys and I don’t speak Spanish.
    I live in California and am coming to Europe in April 2015 to start training and gathering goods. Can I visit you?
    Tess Felix

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