Long-reining Morris

The training of Morris with long-reins reached a new stage yesterday. He walked all the way to Finestrat and back following instructions from me walking behind, guiding him with the long reins. In Finestrat I put the head collar on him because we had the usual Morris donkey psychology challenge: different coloured tarmac…

It took half an hour to coax Morris over two pedestrian crossings with red tarmac, one box junction with yellow lines, various rubber speed bumps and assorted drain covers and metal gratings. Each obstacle has to be carefully considered and evaluated by Morris, as if we had never encountered that type of problem before. “Oh no, red tarmac! That could be dangerous! Oh no, a drain cover! Are there crocodiles lurking under it?” The second pedestrian crossing took about a quarter of an hour to cross. I would appreciate any comments from those of you with donkeys who read this blog. Is a blindfold a possible solution, just for moments like this?

The walk home with long reins is captured in the following video. Finestrat to home involves a steep descent into a dry river bed, then an equally steep climb up a narrow rocky path. Morris handled it very well on the long reins. Next step: more cart training.


About Gareth Thomas

After a mixed career as an aircraft technician, London fringe theatre playwright, Franciscan friar, and secondary school teacher, I find myself looking after the needs of four donkeys in a remote location in the mountains in the Costa Blanca. I like to listen to BBC Radio 4 and the wind in the pine trees. I am writing a comedy about a school in Benidorm. My favourite film of all time is "Jean de Florette". If I had my time again I would not have spent the early 1970s working for Special Branch.
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6 Responses to Long-reining Morris

  1. Alys says:

    He’s skipping along! I imagine long-reigning a Morris is a lot like flying a kite… an idea for the pigeon, perhaps… Morris seems to be trotting along very happily. His hooves make a rhythmic coconuty sound – in fact, he’s like one big coconut with little legs! Well done Morris! Bray Bray!

  2. Frere Rabit says:

    When I was trying to coax Morris to walk across the red tarmac in Finestrat, a very officious German got out of his car and came up to me saying, “Can’t you see his straps are too tight? That is why he will not walk.”

    My reply was deliberately unkind: “You have no idea what you are talking about, Fritz, so piss off and stop confusing my donkey.”

  3. He is doing well. The issue with the lines is very common, it’s because of the way their vision works. You could try a shadow roll over his nose, it might help. A better option would be to try to teach him a cue that tells him it is ok. You can practice with a piece of plywood with lines taped on it (use tape instead of paint so that you can change them).

  4. Anonymous says:

    That’s a very good idea: getting him to walk over things that are different or new. I’ll try it, with the cue as well.

  5. JabbaPapa says:

    My, what a lovely video !!

    Morris is certainly turning out well, isn’t he …

  6. Frere Rabit says:

    He is a very affectionate donkey too. Likes licking everyone! (Very messy.)

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