Grooming is the secret to a shiny healthy coat and will go a long way towards helping you win a red rosette! Given that many shows take place long before any self-respecting donkeys is thinking about shedding last year’s winter woollies, one can hasten the departure of a winter coat by judicious rugging from January onwards and one can extend the time in a summer coat by rugging in late summer.
Action will need to be taken to prune the verdant growth of hair that will have sprouted from manes, tails, ears and under jawlines, but not so drastically that your donkeys looks shorn! If scissors are used, they should have rounded ends and the longer the blade, the easier it is to get a smooth appearance but they are not essential, there are many experience exhibitors who favour cordless dog/human clippers and stripping combs that use protected razor blades to cut the hairs.
Gentle trimming of the long hair under the chin and up into the jowls will improve the look of your donkey’s head no end, although care needs to be taken to get a smooth outline.
Separate the grey or brown hairs growing up from the neck from the black or darker mane hairs. Start at the withers, trim the paler hair on either side of the mane without cutting too close to the skin, create a slight curve in the hair over the middle third of the crest. When both sides are evenly shortened, cut the mane hairs to your chosen length by holding a section of hairs between your index and second fingers and trimming across the excess hair. Finally if you like the headpiece of your bridle or head collar to sit flat without squashing any mane hair, trim out a section close to the skin, just behind the ears.
Many donkeys dislike having their ears touched let alone trimmed, however patience is rewarded by time spent softly stroking both ears from base to tip. To trim, gently tease inner ear hair forwards and by cupping the ear edges together and cutting towards the tips for the hair to be trimmed off level with the edges, then trim any excess hair from around the ear edges.
De-tangling with your fingers rather than raking through the long hairs with the curry comb, this will preserve the tassel. Trim to about four inches below the hocks. Don’t be tempted to just scissor straight across the bottom as it hangs, but place your arm under the tail close to the body thus lifting the tail slightly cutting at a slight downward angle. Trim the top section of the tail removing the stubby short hairs right up to the root of the tail.
Hooves & Lower Legs
Most donkeys have very little in the way of feathers, but a hoof can look very much neater if you gently trim away any long hair that grows down over the face of the hoof creating a nice neat line. Unless you are extremely skilled with scissors or clippers leave legs well alone, allow the winter growth to fall out naturally.
Will fall out in due course, especially if you groom every day. Trimming it off with scissors or clippers is unwise due to scissor marks. In fact where young animals are concerned the presence of long tummy hair can enhance their conformation as it gives an appearance of depth to the body that may not actually be the case.