EQUUS - - Eq Tack& Gear -

The most ob­vi­ous dif­fer­ence be­tween don­keys and horses is, of course, their ears. Gen­er­ally about twice the length of horses’ ears, the don­key’s long ears are thought to be an evo­lu­tion­ary adap­ta­tion that de­vel­oped for rea­sons sim­i­lar to the bray, the don­key’s dis­tinc­tive, loud call.

The ear­li­est don­keys and their an­ces­tors nav­i­gated sparse, rocky set­tings, and as such, some­times had to sep­a­rate from each other to find food. The ears and the bray (which can be heard from as far away as a mile) en­abled don­keys to com­mu­ni­cate with each other over great dis­tances.

Don­keys and horses also dif­fer sig­nif­i­cantly from one another in their feet. A don­key’s hoof is more up­right

than that of a horse. If his hooves be­come over­grown, a don­key seems to be walk­ing on high heels or stilts.

The don­key’s foot al­lows him to more eas­ily nav­i­gate dif­fi­cult lt ter­rain. “When I first started rid­ing my Mam­moth, I was shocked at how th­ese don­keys would plow through rocks and un­der­brush with­out even blink­ing an eye, where a horse would jump over it, or not want to go,” Moore says.

Don­keys don’t gen­er­ally need shoes, but they do need trims ev­ery six to eight weeks, like horses. Other main­te­nance, too, is sim­i­lar: Don­keys re­quire reg­u­lar de­worm­ing and an­nual shots for ra­bies and West Nile virus. (There are no vac­cines spe­cific to don­keys; they are given equine med­i­ca­tion and vac­cines, ad­justed for pro­por­tion.) They’ll need their teeth floated ev­ery year or two, and they must have a Cog­gins test to cross state lines.

For most peo­ple want­ing to match a horse with a don­key, a Stan­dard don­key is of­ten the first choice. There are three types of don­keys: Minis, which are un­der 36 inches; Stan­dards, 36 to 54 inches; and Mam­moths, more than 54 inches.

Mam­moths are the only don­key that can safely be rid­den by a large adult. For stan­dards, the rule of thumb is that a don­key can carry 25 per­cent of its body weight, with tack. This pre­cludes most adults from rid­ing a stan­dard don­key for any length of time with­out in­jury to the don­key’s back or legs. Most, how­ever, can pull a cart with an adult in it with no neg­a­tive ef­fect.

Don­keys don’t gen­er­ally need shoes, but they do need trims ev­ery six to eight weeks, like horses.

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