• Becky Figueira

My Fair Donkey

Updated: Jul 9, 2020

One lovely thing about doing a display instead of a show is that it doesn’t matter what the donkey looks like - they don’t have to have perfect confirmation. As long as they’re well cared for and trained (and vaccinated!) they are welcome. That being said, we still prepare the donkeys as if they were going to a show.

It changes year to year, but most years we have between 8 - 14 donkeys at Balmoral.

We select these donkeys on their temperament, training and level of enjoyment - we know that Pablo not enjoy lots of other animals and doesn’t like too much attention so we don’t take him out. Throughout the year we will maintain the fitness of trained donkeys (such as Denis, Peanut and Remus) and we will train the younger donkeys (Luna, Othello, Tinkerbell) by long-reining them so that when they are old enough to pull a carriage or an implement they already know the commands we will ask of them.

We also put them on a feeding programme - extra meal, and also copper added to their mix to help them lose their coats as it gets warmer (we avoid clipping and let them lose their coats as naturally as possible). Training the donkeys also gives us a wonderful opportunity to bond individually with each donkey, Denis in particular likes to be taken out and will actually glare at you from the gate if you dare take another donkey out! The next show prep is identifying what sort of harness we will need. Robert, Tristan and Becky take charge of this and spend hours cleaning and polishing the leather bridles and harness. Although tough on the hands, it’s actually quite a nice way to spend an evening! We put some music on or a film and brush away. For the leather we use shoe polish of the appropriate colour and for the brass fittings we use Brasso.

And then closer to the time of Balmoral Show we will start physically getting the donkeys ready - feet all trimmed and shaped to perfection, their manes and whiskers done by Senior Stylist Robert! These are all done at home before we travel to Balmoral and are touched up before we go to do our display.

When we’re actually at our stables, the grooming gets more intense! One last good going over with the curry comb - last year we brushed so much out of Remus you could have made another donkey!


-Shampoo, Cowboy Magic Yellowout for the whites and light coloureds

-Shampoo, Teatree or coconut shampoo for everyone, usually a 5L container

-Coat conditioner, Absorbing Showsheen Coat Polish

-Absorbine Supershine hood polish, black or clear as appropriate

-Flexalan Hoof Cream as a finishing shine

the ring

-chalk powder

WHERE WE GET IT: Rockvale Equestrian

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