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donkey

#1
Hi, I'm hoping to do the Camino sometime about April next year, with a donkey...
Why a donkey? Because I do voluntary work for Riding for the disabled (UK) and I want to raise sponsorship for them.
Can anyone out there help me with information about finding and travelling with a donkey? I've read Tim Moore's book, but would love to hear about other peoples experiences....
Cheers,
tess
 

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sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
#2
Camino with a donkey

Hello Tess,
How wonderful that you work with Riding for the Disabled. I have a disabled son (now grown up) and always appreciated people like yourself who give of their time to people with disabilities.
You could try these two web sites for starters.
http://www.bourricot.com (its in French but a lot of useful information)
and
http://www.hikingwithdonkey.com/ who can help you plan.
You could also read Tim Moore's book - Spanish Steps.
Good luck,
Sil
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
#3
Camino with a donkey

Sorry Tess - I meant to suggest you read Sophie Thurnhams book The Great Donkey Trek' which is nothing at all like Tim Moore's book Spanish Steps.
She walked through Spain and France to Rome with a donkey in 1990.
 
#4
Burro!

I, too, have been thinking of walking with a small donkey, or burro. It was on the suggestion of my partner so I wouldn't be burdened by a pack and also have a companion. I'd love to hear of your experience with a donkey once you complete your pilgrimage. Also any other info you find in the meantime. I am just beginning to plan mine.
EULTREIA, ESUSEIA!
--Pellegrina8
(USA)
 

Whalleyranger

Moderator
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Jul-Aug 05, Frances, Jul-Aug 06, Portugues, Oct 2010
#5
I met a Swiss guy at the albergue in Ruitelan last summer. He was walking with a donkey but taking his time with it - he was working at the hostel when I passed through and said he'd been en-route for several months, stopping where and when he could find work.

Enough people must have met him to be able to track him down and ask him for information.
 

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#6
4 feet

I am going to do the Camino starting in September 2007 and I was thinking about doing part of the trek by horse. As such, I have looked for resources on this subject, and there is a link to a guy who is selling a book about the subject. I don't have the book yet, but it supposedly includes information about stables, veternarians, etc which seems to me to be just as useful if you are going with a donkey. Here's the link:
http://www.elcaminoacaballo.com/

Am I the only one who thinks that going by horse or donkey is just about the coolest way to go?
 

spursfan

Veteran Member
Donating Member
#7
You should also get "Horseshoes and Holy Water" by Mefo Phillips about their pilgrimage from Canterbury through France and Spain to Santiago on horseback
 
#8
For all those who are thinking of travelling with a horse or a donkey - whether to carry you or your luggage - can I please caution you to learn how to handle and care for the animal BEFORE you set out?

As a pilgrimage and possibly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, blisters and tendonitis may be tolerable for you - but it is neither fair, right or Christian to impose such things, or their equine equivalent, on an animal companion.

Even the most experienced people have problems with their equines.

Would you be resentful if saddlesores or hoof problems delayed your journey, or if veterinary expenses meant that you had to budget even more tightly for yourself? You will have to provide food for the animal, too, and this will be a further difficulty/expense/comsumer of time, depending on the season of course.

Do not underestimate the time needed to care for animals, either. I trekked along the Bicentennial Trail here in Australia for some 700km this winter just gone, with a riding horse and a pack mule. My mountain biker companions, despite their far greater energy expenditure during the day's travel, could relax a lot more in the evening. I still had "stable duties" on arrival at the campsite every arvo and every morning before leaving ...

Just a few words of warning from someone who hopes to travel to Santiago in 2008 with an Exmoor pony and a pack donkey (or two). I did not put myself off and never could do, but that is because I love equines for what they are, and always have done.

PS I am over 60 with knee problems; riding is no problem at all but walking and cycling is. Hence the equines!
 
#9
Care

Travelling with pack animals has its own demands on humilty. Your animal is your first concern in the morning and your last concern at night. When resting, you care for your animal before giving the slightest attention to yourself.

It's an interesting spiritual and physical exercise, but not necessarily easier than going on foot. Just different.
 
#10
excellent points esseesee and all. Personally, I wouldn't want to do the whole trail by horse. I think you would have to be a serious equestrian for such an undertaking. I think it would be a cool way to do the final few days, and a great way to arrive in Santiago. I will be in South America for 4 months this year before doing the camino, and I thought I would do some riding down there. Maybe arrange a multi-day trek/camp in Argentina and see how it goes.
 

Barbara

Active Member
#11
Please give careful thought as to where the donkey will go after the Camino. Mine lives with me, and we are moving house so that she can have a better field close to the house instead of 800 metres away, also donkeys need company and work to do when they are not walking with you. You can't just park them, you know, and you will almost certainly bond to such an extent that you will not want to part......
I spent four months waking with Dalie, and the biggest problem is accommodation in towns. No problem in the country with a tent, but sometimes it is nice to be able to do some visiting.
Please do not do this unless you really want the company, it is not a way to look cool, it is rewarding but you will meet a lot of instant experts, who will probably drive you mad with unasked advice.
I walk, the donkey carries the bags and provides intelligent company. I find the accomodation for both of us. Food is not a problem, she eats grass, fruit, bread, vegetables, chocolate, and cereals. (Muesli or spaghetti if there is nothing else.....) Horses are harder to feed.... : :D
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
#12
We had our first donkey guest stay in our barn last night. He didn´t mind sharing quarters with two lunatic dogs, and he left us a nice bit of fertilizer for the roses.

His human companion said he´s considering finding a home for Homer, because the donkey is just too slow. Donks only go about 2.5 km per hour, considerably slower than most hikers walk, and they will not be hurried!
I think they are wonderful animals. If we had adequate pasture here, I´d give slow Homer a home right now.

Another consideration: how fast do you want to travel?

Rebekah, who prefers mules for camino travel
 

Barbara

Active Member
#13
speedy they are not, but mine walks at the same speed I do, which is 4.5 km/hour. The average is a lot less though, nearer 3 but that is because everyone wants to stop and talk to her....... :D
 

Dale

Active Member
#14
I'll be walking in April and May I sure hope I encounter you and your Donkey on, "The Way". I did some Helpx projects last year. http://www.helpx.net I worked with two lovely Donkeys in Veletri Italy, Bella and Nutella . Hope you have a wonderful experience with yours :!:
 
#15
Hi - I'd really like to know how you get on! Last year I walked from France to Santiago with my baby & in 2011, myself & a freind I met & my son who will be 3 are planning to do the Via de La Plata with a donkey - any advice, helpful hints welcomed!
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
#16
Did you have a blog on walking with your baby? It would be such a help to others wanting to walk with their children if they had a diary to read.
 
#17
Goat!!

Hi all,

For years I have been interested in packing with goats. I used to raise dairy goast many years ago and always found them sweet and tractable. To my surprise, I ran across a book about using goats as pack animals. Now, in the western US, there are several companies doing this.

Why a goat instead of a horse or donkey? I've been riding horses (I own two) since I was a child. I love them. But they are large, tear up the trail (with their hooves), need to be tended to (feet, feed), are easily frightened, and so are more of a liability than not. In order use a horse as a pack animal, you really need to be very famliar with horse-handling and care. I suspect that is somehat true with donkeys -- although I imagine they are hardier.

Goats are better. They can carry up to 1/3 their weight (an average pack goat can weigh over 150 lbs), are sure-footed, move as fast as you want them to (unlike donkeys), can climb, often don't need to be led (they would prefer your company), can browse or graze, and are desert-adapted and so need little water. Their little deer-like feet don't damage trails and you can pack with one or several. They do need some training -- from birth is best. And (the only down side I can see) some dogs will chase and try to kill them.

I am hoping to do much hiking in Europe over the next few years. But I am in my 50s and have a bad knee. Carrying any weight is a problem for me. Does anyone know of any other goat-packers, particularly in Spain. I would be surprised if they aren't used as I know they have been historically. If so, does anyone have a connection? I am hoping to do part of the Camino Frances this summer and a goat would be a big help!

Thanks,
Sally
 

Barbara

Active Member
#18
I'm just trying to imagine you with two goats waiting for the TGV to go by at a level crossing....My donkey didn't turn a hair. Never seen a pack goat but wth, why not give it a try?
 
#19
I think a well-trained pack goat ould be just fine with it. And (unlike a horse) it doesn't take a strong person to control one even if they are a bit nervous.

I gotta find goats in Spain! I'm part of the camino this summer with my daugther on foot. I wan to do more later....with a goat or two. the only big issue. Where to keep the goat at night? They can be staked out anywhere, but I would worry about dogs.

Anyone who has travelled with donkeys or horses: what do you do about stabling at night?
 

Barbara

Active Member
#20
Stabling isn't often available, unless the weather is really bad and then it just seems to happen. Usually Dalie gets tied to a tree or parked in a garden, sometimes there is a field so I put up our travelling electric fence. I don't think strength comes in to the equation with equines. No 60 kilo person can control 400 kilos of equine by brute force. Donkeys are generally calmer than horses, but THEY HAVE TO KNOW AND TRUST YOU
I don't think you have thought this out too much. By all means try a goat but think about these points
Purchase and subsequent disposal. Dou you have a field?
Pack saddle and bags. Would need to be custom made
Travel to and from your start point. Trailer?
Animal care. Goats have feet too, they need trimming if they are not getting hard use. You will need to carry some grain for them, even hardy and rustic animals need to eat more when working hard.
Have you tried to train any animal yet?
You don't need an animal that can climb. Donkeys can go anywhere you can from that point of view.
Escaping. goats are good at that.
You have a dodgy knee. Getting pulled around when the goat sees something tasty won't help it.
You do have towns to travel through, and roads. Your goat(s) will need to cope with traffic.
You are right to worry about dogs. Donkeys can kick. OK, goats can headbut but still, it could well be a problem.
Please try this at home first before starting your Camino
 
#21
Actually, I have thought it out. I am an experienced horse-packer and know goats (and horses) VERY well! I am well aware of their health, temperment, and training issues. I've trimmed many a goat foot. I wouldn't even begin to do this without a well-trained goat or two -- whether I trained them myself (by being there long enough to do that) or by buying (or hiring) trained pack goats. As for strength -- I agree that strength has nothing to do with control of a horse. The exception is in a panic situation (a bear or cougar) in which even a well-trained pack horse may try to bolt. A goat, even if they do panic, can be held by strength (using a belay method). Traffic isn't any more of an issue with a goat than a horse -- if they are trained and accustomed to it, they are fine.

Goat packs (in many sizes) and all the equipment are readily available in the US (really!) as are resources (books, listserves, etc). So it's not as crazy as it may sound. I have trained horses, dogs and, yes, goats (although not for packing yet). In fact, I have a PhD in animal behavior, so I'm pretty savvy about the pros and cons.

A trained goat happily fits in the back of a car (yes, I've done this!) although they aren't potty-trained :) As for the dog issue: I would carry a battery-charged electric fence and stake the goat(s) in it overnight. Pepper spray and horned goats are the best protection on the road.

Thank you for your concern! But I believe I have enough experience to pull this off. First step: this summer I'll be doing about 10 days on the Camino with my daughter. That will give me a better feel for goat-constraints. And I'm checking out goat packers in Europe (there are some, it seems).

My biggest concern will be with finding a good home for the goats while I'm not in Europe. I certainly won't acquire any until I figure that out. (Too many goat meat lovers out there....and when I first had goats I lost one to a dog attack in the yard).
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#22
There are sheep and goats daily on the Camino, often with working dogs. I think you will find support everywhere, but I won't hazard a guess how you will find it. If you have some Spanish skills, or can get a little help translating, you can get information at the first goat farm you find while you are on your walk. Have an adventure!
 
#23
What a great idea! My Spanish is very rusty, but I'll start boning up on it. Who know? Maybe I could work somethig out with a local goat farm in the future. A young, friendly, hand-reared goat doesn't need too much training if you know what you're doing and can train intensively for a couple of months.

Thanks again for the suggestion!
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
#26
If and when you make your goat-pack trip, please stop at our place in Moratinos. We have been hashing over goat ownership for YEARS now, and I would love to meet you and your goat... we have a barn where he/she could stay, and all the feed an ungulate could want.

Reb.
 
#27
Hi Reb,

That would be great. I'd love to "sell" the goat idea to you and give you some pointers. And I would welcome a goat-friendly place to visit. Goats are endearing and under-utilized (in my opinion) as work animals. They really love people if they are raised right. Not all types of goats like to work, but those that do seem to really enjoy it.

I may be arriving the last week of this month with little to do until my daughter joins me. Maybe I could drop by and talk goats? If that sounds good to you, let me know!

Sarah
 

Barbara

Active Member
#29
OK, you sound as if you know what you are doing. Sorry to come over negative, but you would not believe how many people think a pack animal would be a good idea without having the faintest idea what they are letting themselves in for......
You prolly won't find any bear or cougar on the camino, but I did once see a herd of llamas :D
I have to say, the person who saw goats daily can't have done the same Caminos I did. Plenty of sheep though. I should think all the places you can stay with a donkey should work with a goat. I haven't seen anyone using goats for this in France or Spain, and most of the kit for donkeys and horses is cheaper in the US than here (France). You may need to bring the packs with you. You can call in on me if you are passing through France, and meet the famous Dalie. (Who has done the Norte, the Frances from Le Puy en Velay, and the canal from Nantes to Brest, and most of the way from La Souterraine to the border. We'll be off again in september)
 
#30
That's ok! I understand. (And I'm sorry if I sounded too defensive.) I know there are a lot of folks out there who think animals are machines. They just don't get it!

Yes, he sent me pictures and they were sheep. Oh well!

I would love to meet you and your Dalie some time. And I'd love to get your pointers on traveling with a pack animal on any of the hikes! As I'm going to be an empty-nester next year and only teach part-time now, I am itching to get to Europe and take advantage of the walks and hikes. We don't have anything that like that here -- plenty of hikes, but none that combine history (which I love) with towns (too far apart here) with hiking. Where are you in France?

My biggest issue will be finding a trained goat -- or being in Europe long enough to train my own. I am also wondering if there are restrictions on goat movements that don't apply to horses and donkeys (hoof and mouth disease fears?). Do you know anything about that? That could be why goats haven't been more used. On the other hand a goat local to an area could be, I would imagine. I just need to find someone on the Camino interested in letting me train some goats for them!
 

reg2450

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
March 2013
#31
this has been an excellent forum for re-thinking my idea of a donkey on the Camino. I had considered the extra responsibility, particularly as I'm taking my 9 year old daughter and I have health issues that can slow me down. It was really the 'what do we do with an animal we would come to love?' issue that concerned me most....
Anyway... I have heard that there are 'horse - hire' places available, and I thought I could consider that for different 'legs' of the journey. They exist..... so what do they exist for? Do people use them.
And yes, I am a horse owner. I wouldn't mind my daughter having a break on the horse occassionally, but it would probably be to lighten our load for a day here and there - and to love and faun over. If it were possible to actually hire one.
I'm thinking of 2 or 3 spots in particular.....
So... Does anyone know of it.
PS I love the goat idea!!! Tread lightly on the earth - I love goats
 

newfydog

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pamplona-Santiago, Le Puy- Santiago, Prague- LePuy, Menton- Toulouse, Menton- Rome, Canterbury- Lausanne, Chemin Stevenson, Voie de Vezelay
#32
I met a lady with a wonderful pack goat just yesterday. She was hiking him with another young goat in training. The goat was much friendlier than a llama, easier and cheaper than a horse.

Here's a good website with gear and info.

http://www.northwestpackgoats.com/

The distance per day may be a limitation:

"A goat in good condition can carry 25% of its body weight or approximately 50 pounds and can travel 5-12 miles per day depending on terrain.
Pack goats are bonded to people at a young age by the breeder and follow along like the family dog, with no lead rope necessary unless specifically required in certain areas. Most goats seem to enjoy hiking and accept their pack with little training. Once in camp, the goats can be left loose to eat near by, often sleeping beside your tent."
 

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