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Horses and donkeys look quite similar in terms of body shape and many qualities, but there are some key differences between both of them. Such similarities are quite helpful for them to adjust if kept along with each other.
Despite their list of differences, these two can make quite good friends. This bond results from the key similarities of donkeys to horses due to their great companionship.
Donkeys and horses have quite opposite personalities but it can work as an advantage in many ways. Horses and donkeys living together are not uncommon.
Horses and Donkeys Living Together
Horses, donkeys, and ponies have quite similarities in their conformation and habits and that thing helps a lot to build their strong companionship. They can live and easily adjust together.
It never means that all the donkeys can live with horses, but there are possibilities that they form close bonds with one another. Being social animals, donkeys and horses build up bonds and become best companions.
Similarly, the racehorses and show horses also become companions with miniature donkeys and enjoy their company while living with them in their stalls. It is observed that when racehorses come alongside the tracks for traveling, their friends’ donkeys also come with them to keep them company.
Donkey’s companionship helps to relieve the stress of the newly introduced, high energetic horses and helps them to keep calm.
Similar to the donkey and horse companions bond, the strong relationship built up also found in miniature donkeys and horses living together in the same stalls.
Donkeys also become great mates along with horses in pastures. Being the offensive behavior of donkeys to stray dogs, they often keep as the protection for the herd of horses.
Donkeys have an unappreciated characteristic of their stoicism. They have more sense to conceal the fear and pain. It can be literally observed in the tune of the donkey’s braying.
Are Donkeys Good Companions for Horses?
Donkeys can be great companions with horses and are capable of forming strong bonds with each other. Donkeys are habitually loving and sweet and they become easy keepers when they gain your trust.
Horses and donkeys are social animals so it is quite easy and best for them to become companions.
But there are many differences between both of them that might not help to keep them along for long times. If you are planning to keep horses and donkeys together, then you need to go through the key differences between horses and donkeys.
Caring for Donkeys
Donkeys do need regular care for maintaining health and body. Like horses, donkeys need regular dental and hoof care. Similarly, the worming schedule is also needed for donkeys for proper health.
The very care of donkeys is to keep an eye on body weight. They are more prone to gaining weight so need to follow a strict diet plan.
Donkeys don’t have waterproof coats so they will need shelter in the rains.
Being a social animal, donkeys do not live alone and prefer to live in pairs or with other animals like horses and form strong bonds and become their companions.
Insecurities over keeping donkeys and horses together
Donkeys and Lungworm
Most equestrians think that it is unsafe to keep horses and donkeys together due to the lungworms. Donkeys are more prone to lungworms and these worms are capable of spreading from donkeys to horses.
Commonly, the donkeys are tolerant of lungworm and rarely show the symptoms of parasite attack. But when these worms are transferred to horses, lungworms cause severe coughing and rapid breathing in them.
But, you don’t need to worry to keep them together and thanks to scientific development for developing the testing mechanism of lungworms.
As long as you follow the precautions, donkeys, and horses are safe to live together. But it is necessary to keep in mind that they are different species and different requirements.
Testing of donkeys before putting along with horses
Unlike the old times, scientific advancement now makes it possible to test lungworms through testing the feces of animals. Testing of donkeys will clarify the attack and help the owner to split the suspected animal.
“Claire Shand, director of marketing and communications at Westgate Laboratories, showed his full confidence to keep the ponies, horses, and donkeys together. But providing the alert for lungworms attack. Lungworm attack is relatively low, and cross-infection can occur while grazing in pastures together.”
Biosecurity regarding the re-homing of donkeys should be as rigorous as possible. A lot of companies offer fecal testing these days.
“Claire said, the best practice is to test the mules and donkeys before introducing them to the herd. The fecal sedimentation test conducted at a well reputable laboratory will clarify the lungworm attack.”
The fecal testing will check the animal’s parasite burden and help the owner to ensure the prevention of potential pasture contamination.
If any lungworm is suspected, the fecal sedimentation test can be used to confirm and split the suspect from the herd to avoid any spread.
“That’s why it is better to test the mules and donkeys for a host of infection, rather than the horses showing symptoms and more damage conditions.”
Best Companion For Your Horse
Basically, horses and donkeys are social animals and are the best companions. So if you are planning to get a companion for your horse, no option can be better than a donkey. Both of them have similarities in terms of emotions in many ways. But they are mentally, physically different and have different needs.
There are many sanctuaries and rescues that offer donkeys for adoption. Adopting a donkey from a sanctuary for your horse can be the better option as many sanctuaries have testing systems for lungworms before handing over the donkey and mules to others.
All you need to do is introduce them properly as the donkeys take a little more time to learn. When they become companions, you will often see them playing together.
It is still vital to take precautions and fulfill their unique demands as they have different personalities and diet plans. Their companionship will remain until you provide the right care for donkeys and horses to live safely. Otherwise, they become offensive and damage stall and each other.
- Donkeys Parasites in the UK; Infection Levels, Treatment Intervals and Anthelmintic Use. Proceedings of the Worldwide Association for the Advancement of Veterinary Parasitology, Calgary, 2009.
- The Complete Book of The Donkey, 2009.
- The Professional Handbook of the Donkey – 4th Edition, 2008.