Charlie is a very nice little boy. Donkeys have a bad reputation - but, Charlie is a delight, and becomes more so all the time. That said, it’s important to understand that he doesn’t think the same way that horses do. While he’s fiercely intelligent, loves people and is very affectionate, he’s also opinionated and, once he’s made up his mind...well, that’s pretty much that. However, above all things, he’s practical - so, if you make sense to Charlie (or just let him run the show), he’s actually fairly open minded and easy to deal with.
Charlie came to us from the same disbanded lesson program as Petey. He was easy enough to handle but, like many donkeys, he had some major hoof issues with an odd deformity in one of his front hooves which was growing unevenly and hooking over itself - if it had continued to grow this way, he would have been crippled. Luckily, with regular, expert trimming, our farrier was able to correct this over the course of about 12-18 months (Petey’s feet were also very badly out of balance - we trimmed them every 4-5 weeks during this time), now, all of his feet are able to grow straight & normally. He was defensive about having his feet done at first but, true to his character, once he started to see that we were all trying to help him and he was feeling better, he stopped kicking and squirming and has stood like an angel ever since. Charlie is a great example of the importance of high quality, regular hoof care. Through our founder’s high performance equestrian career, we’re very lucky to have two spectacular farriers on our team - experienced, skilled and with saintly patience, they’re responsible for some amazing transformations. Hoof care is one of the most important aspects of keeping horses healthy, happy and sound - always get the best farrier you can find and listen to their advice.
Charlie’s metabolism is also, sadly, typical of his breeding. Though manageable, at this point in his life, he’s prone to obesity and always needs to be on a strict diet. This brings up a difficult situation for many animals - when we feed them less, they often don’t get the nutrients they need, making them terribly hungry and compromising their long term health (usually in ways that can be hard to see immediately). Feeding a ration balancer has been a great solution for Charlie - he gets all his vitamins and minerals in that and, while he’d never say no to food, he’s not nearly as ravenous as when he was only eating hay and actually weighs less, sheds his coat normally and is much shinier as well. He’s perky but, needs more exercise than he might naturally like to keep up his figure...which we’re working on - but, he hasn’t yet entirely agreed to.
He is extremely loving. He adores people and is one of the few animals on the farm who automatically likes strangers - though, he will attempt to take advantage of them. He makes the strangest noises - he very rarely brays but, instead, tries to whinny like his horse friends, which sounds like a ufo. Every so often, he actually does whinny and is noticeably pleased with himself for several days afterwards.
Another interesting trait he shares with other donkeys is his intense dislike of dogs. This is a genetically hardwired instinct in donkeys that we were unaware of prior to Charlie. He is aggressive with them and will even attack. We are very careful to keep the dogs away from him and have them leashed if they’re near his field (this is one of many reasons that all of our smaller paddocks have no-climb wire, making it difficult for other animals to get in).
He and Petey are pasture buddies and they enjoy each other’s company. Charlie gets along very well with all of the other horses - but, with his strict diet, tiny stature and sassy temperament, it’s safer for him to be friends over the fence. He and Perfect particularly like each other and have several specific games they like to play. Most of these involve Perfect using his hay as bait - they both have a big of sense of humor.
Like the miniature horses, miniature donkeys have an exceptionally long life expectancy when we’ll cared for. Charlie is currently in his early teens and we
hope to have many more wonderful years with him.