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Want a Horse? Here's Why You Should Get a Donkey Instead

Kimberly Brocket

Meet Cinnamon and Nutmeg.

If you're looking for speed and excitement, get a horse. If it’s calm and thoughtfulness that you want, consider a donkey.

Donkeys aren’t on the forefront of our minds when it comes to riding. But when Kimberly Brockett was thinking about getting a horse, she changed her mind and got a donkey. Her son was 10 at the time, and she didn’t want the bucking and jumping that comes with horses. “When horses are scared, they run,” she explains. “They have that flight mechanism. Donkeys, on the other hand, stop and think. They will try to figure out what the threat is and how to handle it.”

Kim (who grew up on a dairy farm) and her family live in Connecticut with two dogs, five goats, a llama... and now, six donkeys.

Donkeys come in three sizes: miniature, standard, and mammoth. Female mammoths measure 54 inches or taller at the withers, and males come in at 56 inches or taller.  Standard donkeys are 36.01 inches and up, and miniatures are 36 inches and smaller.

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“Our American Mammoth Jackstock donkeys came from Oklahoma,” she says. “We also have two small standards that were rescued from a kill pen at an auction in New Jersey, and one large standard that was rescued from a family in Connecticut that bred her and then stopped feeding her while she was nursing a baby. Many folks have small donkeys, mainly as pets or companions to horses or other animals. The mammoths are obviously quite unique, especially in the northeast.”

According to Kim, there are fewer than 2500 American Mammoth Jackstock donkeys in the world. “They walk, trot, and can run, but they tend not to because they are originally from the desert, and their natural instinct is to preserve their energy,” she explains. “This makes them nice and steady on trail rides.”

On occasion, she brings her donkeys to work to give the public rides. She works as a controller/CPA (Certified Public Accountant) at a 300 acre farm. When she is not working on the farm, she shows the donkeys at donkey and mule shows, educational events, nativity scenes, and church pageants. “And anywhere else we are invited,” she says.

“Donkeys are misunderstood,” she explains. “It took ours between six and eight months before we bonded with them. People think they may be standoffish; but they really are getting to know us and learning to trust us, which takes time. And they are herd animals; so having a pair makes sense. They live longer than horses, eat less, and are hardier. Plus, they are great with kids.”

To learn more about donkeys (and mules), check out the New England Donkey and Mule Group on Facebook.

Michele C. Hollow writes about pets and wildlife at, and other national publications. She is the creator of the animal advocacy site Pet News and Views.

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