Horses · Project Pack Donkey

Putting my donkey to work…

One thing I believe wholeheartedly is that everyone (human and animal) benefits from having a job. Meaningful work is what gives our life purpose. Some of us find that in careers; some of our life’s work happens outside of our paid jobs. I have found that work is good for animals as well. It gives them something to look forward to and something to combat boredom. I found a great job for my donkey, and it’s hauling out trash! If you have a donkey, I encourage you to give it a try!

Rusty in his blanket and surcingle. I attach his pack to the rings on the surcingle.

I enjoy picking up litter. I hate litter, and I don’t understand the mindset of people who throw their trash on the ground, but I enjoy getting it off the ground and into a trash can. I wish I didn’t have to pick up after anyone, but there are nasty people out there who will probably never change. Whenever I’m outdoors, I make an effort to pick up trash. I used to kayak around the lake in Georgia and pick up litter while my kids swam and played nearby.

On Sunday I put on Rusty’s new saddle pad and his pack and we walked 4 miles through the Buxton Woods Coastal Preserve. The preserve borders the barn property and it’s nice to have an area to hike without having to trailer off. Unfortunately, many of the trails don’t allow horses, so we’re limited in where we’re allowed to go, but we can still get a nice hike in.

This was Rusty’s first time carrying any weight in his pack and he did GREAT. At first when I would stop to pick up trash, he wondered why I was stopping so often. He quickly figured out that he could grab a bite of grass each time I stopped. Before long, he caught on to the routine and he would stand still and let me drop the trash into his pack.

Is he not the cutest little burrito?

The glass beer bottles were clanging around and I wondered if that would spook him, but he had no reaction at all. He is such a mellow fellow!

He is also an excellent hiking partner. He never tries to run off and he’s content to walk at a steady pace. We match each other well.

I’ve told my kids for years that when they move out and go to college, I’m going to walk across America. I want to hike one of the National Scenic Trails. I’d like to do either the Pacific Crest Trail or the Continental Divide Trail (horses are allowed on both), or maybe one of the shorter ones, like the Arizona Trail. Rusty is only 5, so by the time my kids are out of the house, he’ll still be young enough to join me. That’s one of those far off dream-like goals, but if I start hiking with my donkey now, by the time I can do a big trail, he’ll be ready!

Update: We went on a second trash hauling hike (a shorter one) and here’s what he packed out…

Keeping my community clean and litter-free is important to me, and I love that I’ve found a way to incorporate my equine buddy! Rusty is performing a tangible service and becoming a real part of the island!

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