For the love of donkeys

Our prayers brayers were answered yesterday afternoon when we got word that the Town of Van Horn had announced the cancellation of Saturday’s donkey roping competition.

We’d like to express our gratitude to each and every one of you who played a part in making this happen. Thank you for your phone calls, emails, blog posts, letters and brayers. They worked! ♥

If you have a moment today, please join Patrick in thanking the people of Van Horn, Texas for making the right decision. 

Van Horn City Administrator: Fran Malafronte –
Van Horn Mayor: Okey D. Lucas –
Culberson County, Texas Sheriff: Oscar E. Carrillo –
Coordinator, Van Horn Chamber of Commerce: Patricia Golden –

Editor, The Van Horn Advocate: Larry Simpson –


“He can live without man. But man can scarcely do without the labour, the sacrifice, the suffering of the donkey… that has accompanied man since the dawn of time, in all weathers, humbly and patiently serving the most brutal of all animals.”

~P.A. Vieira, ‘Our Brother the Donkey’, in Kinship with Animals, ed. K. Solisti and M. Tobias (San Francisco, CA, 2006), p. 134.

My name is Patrick. I used to be a roping donkey. When I was a roping donkey, I was afraid and unhappy.

My mom and dad rescued me and I’m very happy and safe now. But I’m very worried about the donkeys in Van Horn, Texas, because I know how they feel.

It’s very important you know that Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue; America’s largest donkey rescue, is ready, willing and able to take in all the Van Horn roping donkeys.

Please do the right thing, Van Horn, Texas. Please cancel the donkey roping competition scheduled for this Saturday, June 23 at Van Horn Frontier Days.


If you’re looking for a way to help, please call Jason Owens; the promoter of the event. His phone number is 432-940-9051. He has said he will take all calls. Please explain to him why he needs to cancel the donkey roping competition in this Saturday’s (June 23) Van Horn Rodeo. We hope that if he receives enough phone calls educating him about why this should not happen – he may decide to bow under pressure.

Also, please write to the editor of the local paper in Van Horn, Texas: Larry Simpson, at The Van Horn Advocate:

We thank you. And Patrick thanks you. ♥

Posted on behalf of Edgewood Longears Safehouse in Edgewood, New Mexico (Note: This is where we adopted Buck.)

This post is for all the pregnant jennies that we at Edgewood Longears Safehouse rescued from Southwest Livestock Auction on November 8 and that haven’t found a home or sponsor yet, as well as for a husband-and-wife team from near Las Vegas, NM, that is expected to have a newborn foal soon. All of these jennies (and the one husband) need sponsors to help them get through the winter, so that they can give birth without worries and get ready for adoption to a new forever home. Please read their stories and consider sponsoring one or the other. We are private people and do not have access to most grants for which official rescue shelters can apply; hence our funds are very limited. 

Sponsoring an animal from our rescue herd would involve sending a donation of $50 (which covers all the groceries) or $40 (which covers most of them) each month either by check to our private address or (marked as a gift) by Paypal to We’ll keep you updated about your sponsored donkey and the progress she/he has been making.

Bonnie (the spotted one) and her man Gandhi were found abandoned near Las Vegas, New Mexico. The NM Livestock Board took them in, hoping to accommodate them at a local sale barn or rescue. But the official rescues were full and most NM sale barns no longer accept donkeys (Dennis Chavez’s being the main exception). Through another rescue we were asked if we could take them in. They received a Coggins test and Gandhi was gelded, all at the NM Livestock Board’s expense. 

When they arrived at our Edgewood facility, we noticed that their hooves were unusually short and their feet are hurting. We suspect that this may be from their wandering around on rocky terrain for too long; perhaps the coldness of the ground here in the wintry mountains adds to it. We hope it’s not founder. We are currently negotiating with some potential foster places further south to take them in for Bonnie’s foaling event. Gandhi is also feeling miserable right now as he is recovering from his surgery. They’re both on bute right now, and Gandhi is also on antibiotics. 

Bonnie is already bagging, so her foal will be there within a month from now; in fact, it could come any day at this point. We might have a great home waiting for this donkey family, depending on how well they recover from their various health challenges. Until then Bonnie and Gandhi each need a sponsor.

Bonnie and Gandhi are currently located at our Edgewood facility.

Update (11/28/11): Bonnie and Gandhi are both doing much better today, Bonnie’s feet are obviously better, and Gandhi is perkier, too. I stopped the bute for them, and they’re nonetheless fine. Can’t wait to see them run once they’re fully recovered!

Luna Belle was among those rescued from Southwest Livestock Auction in Los Lunas on November 8. She already has an album of her own, since she was found with the worst case of overgrown hooves that we have personally encountered. She was trimmed for the first time on November 14 and will need several more trims before we can say that she may have fully recovered from that neglect. 

Luna Belle is most likely pregnant but not as advanced as the others. She has become very friendly with humans after her trimming experience; before that she was pretty much untouchable. She is friends with Sheila, a paint jenny who is not pregnant at this point. We may put Luna Belle and Sheila up for adoption once Sheila has had her hooves done and received some gentling lessons. 

Luna Belle is located at our Tijeras facility.

This is Marylou, a large, big-boned brown and friendly jenny who may have another four or five months to go—possibly even longer— before she gives birth. She was among those that we rescued from Southwest Livestock Auction on November 8. She is coming along in her interactions with humans and should be easy to train soon. 

Marylou is currently located at our Tijeras facility.

This is Claudette, another pretty and friendly chocolate brown jenny far along in her pregnancy. She was among those that we rescued from Southwest Livestock Auction on November 8. She has terrible hooves right now and needs to get a trim soon. 

Claudette is currently located at our Tijeras facility.

This is Silver, another pretty jenny with a gray roan coat who is also far along in her pregnancy. She was among those that we rescued from Southwest Livestock Auction on November 8. She also needs a trim soon. 

Silver is currently located at our Tijeras facility.

This is Stella, our white pregnant jenny. She’s friendly and curious. A potential adopter in another state has expressed some interest in her, but nothing has been settled yet, and in any event she won’t be moving any time soon. It could be another 4 months before she gives birth. 

Stella is located at our Tijeras facility.

This is Champagne, a pretty rare pink jenny. When we picked her up at the feedlot she completely panicked near humans and wanted nothing to do with us. Today, for the first time, she touched my hand softly with her nose. 

Champagne’s pregnancy is pretty far along, too. 

Champagne is currently located at our Tijeras facility.


Posted on behalf of Edgewood Longears Safehouse in Edgewood, New Mexico:

Cinca was born October 24 and had such long legs that her foster mom decided to wait a little before notifying us to see whether the foal was ok. But as you can see in the pictures, she is doing very well and LOVES to play. Roxanne was a pregnant jenny rescued from Southwest Livestock Auction on October 16 together with another pregnant jenny and a gelding. The foals would have died at the feedlot had they been born there. The jennies were penned up together with intact jacks and stallions, and the feedlot owner has the reported practice of killing all surviving foals to save on feed.

Potential adopters and homes will be screened. Roxanne had trust issues at first but has been coming along wonderfully since her rescue. She is now accepting a halter and is becoming friendlier every day. Potential adopters of Roxanne and her baby should be aware that Roxanne probably was abused in the past and will need a patient and understanding environment to thrive in. Roxanne is about six years old at this point, thus at a good (donkey) age to be trained in various disciplines or even just for showing (she’s very pretty with a rare red dun coloring). Adopters will sign a contract with us granting us first right to buy the donkeys back if they are to be sold; the contract will also stipulate that they are not to be used for breeding and will need to be kept on a strict grass hay and/or barley straw diet.

Roxanne and Cinca belong to Edgewood Longears Safehouse but are currently in foster care at Kiva Donkey Rescue in Bernardo, NM. The two are up for adoption as a pair. If you are interested in visiting them, please call Diane Wiltshire at 505-480-2806 to set up an appointment. Bernardo is right on I-25 a short distance south of Belen, NM. All details concerning the adoption should be discussed with Dorothea or Andrew of Edgewood Longears Safehouse; please contact them at longears.safehouse @ (remove spaces!). We will ask for a moderate donation toward our rescue expenses in return for ownership of the donkeys.

It’s been far too long since I posted on our For the love of donkeys page.

Photo credit: John Rennison/The Hamilton Spectator

Thank you to Kim who sent us this very sweet story to share with you:

I work at our local SPCA and we have a summer camp for kids. So far this summer, we’ve gone to the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada 3x for our field trip. It is a fantastic place that deserves more recognition. Can you believe Ontario has TWO donkey sanctuaries?!?

Anyways, a reporter from our local paper recently went along on a trip with us. You can see the story and video here:–donkey-doody-duty-builds-character

And you can check out the sanctuary’s website too…

Kim at The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada

And, since most of you are donkey fans, I’m putting in a plug for a new page I recently started on Facebook: For the Love of Donkeys. While I began the page as a forum to talk about and bring a stop to the practice of using donkeys as a training tool for roping horses, things are now at a bit of a standstill with our local government. Are you surprised?

In the meantime, I’ve found a plethora of happy stories that exist out there about donkeys – all over the world! I hope you’ll enjoy reading them as much as I’m enjoying finding them. We want the world to know how wonderful donkeys are! ♥

I’ve always been a fan of Reese Witherspoon and her movies, from Walk the Line to Legally Blonde to Sweet Home Alabama.

Jason Merritt / Getty Images file

Yes, she’s beautiful, and yes, she’s an Academy Award-winning actress. There’s another reason to love her though. 

Reese Witherspoon has donkeys.

Their names are Honky and Tonky, and she calls them badonkadonks. Reese also has two pigs, three goats, a horse, three dogs and 20 chickens.

I found out about Reese and her donkeys because a friend sent me an email with the subject, “because you need to know about this”.  Norma’s email included a link to this article, which details a bit about Reese being in a donkey dispute with her neighbors. (Norma knows I love everything donkey.)

Apparently, Reese’s neighbors aren’t enamored with Honky and Tonky’s braying. We think her neighbors must not know how wonderful donkeys are and hope they’ll get to meet Honky and Tonky so they can attach the braying to something outrageously cute and friendly.  

In the meantime, we want Reese to know that all of her fans at Morning Bray Farm support her, Honky and Tonky, and that if she’s ever in Albuquerque, she’s totally invited to come and meet the Boyz. ♥

From The Los Angeles Times:

Smoke, the Iraqi donkey, a favorite of Camp Pendleton Marines, arrives in U.S.

A donkey adopted as a pet by Marines from Camp Pendleton while they were deployed in Iraq has been brought to America to serve as a therapy animal for wounded military personnel.

Smoke arrived last week in New York aboard a cargo flight that originated in Turkey after a combined effort of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and retired Marine Col. John Folsom. 

In 2008, Folsom and Marines from the Camp Pendleton-based 1st Marine Logistics Group found the donkey at Camp Taqaddum in Anbar province. The animal quickly became a favorite. His name comes from his color and the fact that he once snatched a cigarette from a Marine.

In 2009 the Marines departed but Folsom never stopped thinking of Smoke and what a morale boost he was for the troops. With help from the SPCA, Folsom raised funds and cleared away bureaucratic obstacles to get Smoke to America.

The SPCA estimates the final cost at upward of $40,000. The group has brought dogs and cats from Iraq but Smoke was the first of his species. The U.S. ambassador in Turkey was recruited to help get Smoke from neighboring Iraq.

“Once you met him and saw what a unique donkey he was, it was hard to say no to him,” said SPCA official Terri Crisp.

Supporters are bringing the donkey by truck to Folsom’s home in Omaha, Neb., where Smoke will serve as a therapy animal for the Wounded Warrior Family Support organization.

“He’s an American donkey now,” Folsom told the Associated Press.


Welcome home, Smoke. Welcome home.   ♥

A poor farmer near Jerusalem owned a donkey far too small to do much work at all. He felt that he couldn’t afford to feed a worthless animal like this, one that could do him no good whatsoever, so at the supper table he told his family that he was going to kill the donkey.

His children, who loved the little donkey, begged him to sell it rather than harm it. But the farmer said, “It’s wrong to sell an animal that can’t do a good day’s work.”

Then his oldest daughter suggested, “Father, tie the donkey to a tree on the road to town, and say whoever wants it may take it for nothing.” And the next morning, that’s what the farmer did.

Soon, two men approached and asked if they could have the donkey. “It can carry almost nothing,” the farmer warned them.

“Jesus of Nazareth has need of it,” replied one of the men. The farmer couldn’t imagine what a great teacher would want with such a worthless donkey, but he handed it over.

The men took the animal to Jesus, who stroked the grateful donkey’s face and then mounted it and rode away. So it was on the day we call Palm Sunday, Jesus led his followers into the city of Jerusalem riding on the back of a small, common donkey.

The donkey so loved his gentle master that he later followed him to Calvary. Grief-stricken by the sight of Jesus on the cross, the donkey turned away but couldn’t leave. It was then that the shadow of the cross fell upon the shoulders and back of the donkey, and there it stayed. All donkeys have borne the sign of the cross on their backs since that very day.

Excerpted from Sue Weaver, The Donkey Companion (Storey Publishing, 2008).

There was no midnight raid. Bernard didn’t have bolt cutters. We aren’t on New Mexico’s most wanted list. 

We’ve named him Patrick, he’s here and he’s safe. And he’s already been surrounded by people who love him.

We spent a wonderful day on Sunday at 7MSN with Carson and Danni from Critter Farm.

On our way home from 7MSN, it happened. For a couple of weeks now, Don and I have talked about making an offer to buy Patrick as soon as we saw his people. As we drove past Patrick’s corral on Sunday evening, we saw they were there.

We pulled in and Don got out. I stayed in the car and pretended to read the newspaper because I couldn’t be involved in the conversation. Don is much more even-keeled than I am… if Patrick’s person had said no, it’s likely that I would have either started crying or yelling at him.

It turns out that Patrick’s person said yes, and here’s what we now know about Patrick:

  • He didn’t have a name
  • He is three years old and they acquired him two and a half years ago; he has never known anything but torment
  • He’s gelded, but not by a veterinarian (it was a home job)
  • He was used regularly for roping practice
  • They were unhappy with his performance as a roping donkey because Patrick learned early on that it wouldn’t hurt as bad if he stopped running as soon as he felt the rope around his ankles
  • His diet consisted of cow hay; he didn’t even rate the hay that was being fed to the horses that he was being used to train

By the time Patrick arrived at Morning Bray Farm on Sunday evening and we got him settled in, it was dark. That explains the pictures in yesterday’s post. (We were exhausted after a wonderful day, but we had to let you know that he was here.)

He is a very sweet boy and he’s going to do well with lots of love… which he got lots of yesterday, thanks to Carson and Danni.

He’s handsome too.

He’s hiding underneath a bit of hair.

We are so fortunate to have such wonderful friends. Carson and Danni spent the day working with and loving Patrick while Don and I were at work. Thank you, Aunt Linda and Aunt Danni. We love you.

Don came home bearing gifts for Patrick. A brand new, shiny green halter and lead rope.

Green is Patrick’s color.

It makes him look exceptionally, super cute.

We have no doubt that life is going to come back into Patrick’s eyes. Bernard will make sure of that.

The vet is coming this morning and we’ll start introducing Patrick to the boyz as soon as we get the all clear. ♥

To read more about Carson’s and Danni’s day of love with Patrick, be sure to visit their blogs at The 7MSN Ranch and On the Way to Critter Farm.

He’s here and he’s safe.

He will never be roped again.

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