Meet Dazzle: Donkey-at-Large

by Annie Penfield
Dazzle the Donkey
Dazzle the Donkey

Dazzle joined our family as a nine-month old when my middle daughter was a nine months old. I acquired him from a shady donkey dealer who covered his name on a list of donkeys on a some communal coggins test (is there such a thing? Communal coggins test?) in an effort to prove he was negative. I really didn't care about his health status, as a mini Castilian nine-month old stud donkey colt, I just wanted to bring him home, and out of the clutches of the shady donkey dealer.

Sylvia and Dazzle
A common language for Sylvia and Dazzle

Dazzle did not seem to understand that he was thirty-two inches high. He wove impervious through the legs of giants, Cleveland Bay crosses, even though his eye level was at their elbows. And he spent time communing with Sylvia. Seems like nine-months old have a common language.

My small children loved that he was eye-level. He was their first ride—until they discovered that ponies steer and that the saddle is less likely to swim about on the pony back. And if the moveable saddle wasn't enough to pitch them off, then it was, his crab crawling sort of canter down hills, and off-trail around trees that was slightly terrifying.

So not the most desirable ride, but he is sought after. He goes out on jobs. To babysit convalescing horses, as a companion to lonely horses. Trips to pre-school. The fourth of July fair.

Dazzle in the Truck
Sylvia accompanies Dazzle (keeping him in the back of the truck) to a school visit

He dazzles. And whether pleasing crowds of toddlers or manuvering now through 17.2h Irish sport horses, he commands the crowd—and the household. I know when dinner is late, according to the loud braying resounding through barn and house. And he goes where he pleases. For a while, he and his sidekick Kita (a 10.2h white pony mare—lots of mane and even more attitude) dove between electric wires for moonlight romps in the hayfield, or wrangle into the horse trailer to clean up the hay, or to taste the apples on a far tree, or arrive unexpectedly in a jump lesson, and then roll in the nice sandy arena, or follow us along on a trail ride in his meandering, crooked, and delighted way of going.

Donkey and wreath
Wreath duty

He has strong opinions. Wary of the whims of Vermont summer, he won't shed out until July. He won't come out in the rain, or the snow.

He is very protective of my large 16-hand mare. Dinner should arrive on schedule. Wreaths should not be tied on a donkey, there is dignity you know.

He's a wanderer. I am never sure where he may turn up. Dazzle: Donkey at Large. Where will he be next?