Saturday, January 22, 2011

Donkey showmanship

Just in case you weren't able to decipher my hints, I spent most of yesterday ringside at the National Western Stock Show's Mule and Draft Show.  One of the many classes I watched was the Donkey Showmanship.  

Showmanship is a performance class that tests a handler's ability to show her horse (or donkey!) in-hand.  Typically each entrant is required to lead their animal through a pattern than involves walking, trotting, backing and standing for the judge.   More information can be found in this post from Anne Field's blog.

This is the pattern that was used Friday at the Stock Show:  

 1. Start at first cone.
 2. Trot to third cone and halt.
 3. Back up to second cone.  Halt.  Pivot 260 degrees to the right.
 4. Walk forward to the judge.  Halt and stand for inspection.
Here's how it looked in practice.  The donkeys trotted down the line of cones...
and came to a halt at the third.
They were then asked to back up...
and continue backing until they'd passed the second cone.
The  270 degree turn to the right was next.
Upon completion of the turn, they walked forward...
and halted in front of the judge.
The judge circled each donkey.
In order to provide the judge with a clear view of her donkey, the handler has moved from the donkey's left side to its right side.
After the judge's inspection is complete, the competitors leave the course at a trot.
Most of the donkeys wore leather halters (with or without silver plates).  However, I did see a couple nylon halters in the mix.  Similarly, a leather shank with an attached chain was the most prevalent type of lead, but there were also some plain cotton ropes.
Handler attire ranged from Western casual to Western dressy to old West.  
Grooming standards were fairly relaxed.  This white donkey won the class despite the yellow stain on his leg!
A couple donkeys sported decorations in their manes...
and tails!
As always, feel free to use the pictures for your live show documentation.  I know a lot of you have model donkeys that are just dying to strut their stuff in the performance ring!


  1. WOW!! It looks so casual and relaxed!! Nothing like stock horse showmanship. Neat, thanks!

  2. Nice pictures, Jen.

  3. I love donkeys! So does my husband! I think he's more interested in the prospect of getting a donkey someday than getting a horse! Neat to see a donkey class!

  4. I absolutely love this! It not only makes me want a donkey, but it's nice to know that there are still people that don't take things /too/ seriously. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Nice pics!
    I don't know what it is with that showmanship pattern, but I have done that pattern almost a dozen times now at different shows, and here it is again.

  6. Is it just me, or are some of those some mighty small people... or some honking BIG donkeys!?
    I didn't think mammoth donkeys were much over 15.2 hands...

  7. Donkey cuteness overload!!! Love the pics :)

  8. Oh this was great!! Thank you so much for sharing <333

  9. Bif--I wondered about heights, too, so I did a little online research. It seems that mammoth donkeys can stand well over 16 hands. This doesn't surprise me--some of those donkeys were huge!

    It's worth noting that none of the donkey classes (halter, showmanship, cart) were divided by height. Minis were shown alongside the mammoths which was really kind of awesome.


  10. Sorry to say, your comments on grooming requirements being lax for the donkey showmanship class, is totally incorrect. Staining on light colored animals has nothing to do with whether the animal is groomed properly or clean, if you have ever had a light colored equine, you would know how hard it is too keep their hair coats from getting discolored or stained, and having discolorations or stains does not mean they are not clean. Also the lighting in many show arenas also cast what can look like discoloration or stains that actually are not. I find all your negative comments and criticism offensive. Did you ask for permission from any of the owners or handlers, before posting your negative commentary as to their performance.
    To set the record straight, donkeys are not stubborn, they are very intelligent and cautious animals.

  11. Hmm, I didn't see any criticism or negative comments to the showers or the donkeys at all... I don't see how anyone could interpret this post as such! We all love them, and I know, I still want one!

    1. I agree -- Jen never said anything about how that horse has to be clean and how dirty it looked. She merely just pointed out that you can win even with a stain on your animals leg.

    2. whoops meant to say "donkey"!