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Wednesday, 17 July 2019 06:10

Ntabayengwe Donkey Welfare Workshop


Mares recently held a Donkey Workshop in Ntabayengwe.It started at 9.30 and people were still arriving more than an hour later. Some came from over 20km away. We had 37 donkey owners, with 29 carts and 157 donkeys. One donkey came in the back of a cart with a dislocated hip which Isaac and Chris treated. There were few current wounds (perhaps people who care came, or not ploughing season …?), some scars, some skinny donkeys, some mothers with foals.  Sick puppies and a dog were also brought, and quite a few accompanying dogs, some of whom got dipped. 

The program started with Sue briefly thanking everyone for coming and introducing Claire Einhorn of MARES - aka "The Crazy donkey Lady!”  

Everyone gathered around one cart and donkey for Claire to explain and demonstrate:

  • the difference between a bad and a better harness, each part of the better harness, why it was made that way and the positive effects
  • how to fit, put on and take off a harness properly
  • how to attach the spindle trees to the cart, purpose of spindle, correct hitching and length of chain (traces)
  • the maximum load, how to balance a load properly

-    dissel boom - necessary weight and length

  • how many donkeys are needed, ie, only two, not four in a row side-by-side, or two in front and two behind
  • earliest age to use a donkey (not till 3)
  • correct use of whip (no contact)
  • how to turn a donkey team properly - use of rein

-    damage done by wire (tetanus) plastic rubbing


  • reason for reflective collar

She did this with compassion, humour and lots of examples to show the ‘why’.  She noted the issue we have here is most donkeys too close to cart.

Participants were attentive and asked quite a few questions. 

After the talk and demo, she, with Isaac and Themba, went around to each cart and team and fitted new harnesses to two donkeys in each team, re explaining, fixing what was necessary on the cart, getting rid of all wire.  Isaac advised and treated where necessary. Her assistant, Charles, drilled, welded & fixed, helped by Ananias and Angles from my home. Our electricity, drill and extension cord came in handy, as did the little kitchen.  Water trough was utilised. Mazoe and biscuits were served, and appreciated, sweets dished out to the children. The three Centre cats watched from a safe distance.

Themba recorded the attendants details, names, carts, donkey, phone numbers, and who got what equipment.   28 harnesses were handed out, to two donkeys in a team of 4, so to 14 owners with carts. By 1.30 all the harnesses we had were allocated (not all had been able to be finished due to power cuts in Bulawayo). Those remaining who had not got harnesses were told to come back on 15 July when they will get.  There will be another demonstration then.  

93 reflective collars (no velcro or buckle - elastic connector) were handed out (again we did not have quite enough). Hester, from a new donkey sanctuary in Livingstone, observed to learn. We all  felt we learnt a great deal and already saw the lady who sells manure in town today with the reflective collars on. We were given harnesses by Claire. A donation of $500 was received .




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