Posted Mar 06, 2015
Donkeys are NOT small horses with big ears! They have a very unique personality and handle situations differently. I had a donkey for over a decade to keep my horse company. They are much more calm, logical and thoughtful than horses, and less flighty and fast. You have to give them time to think through a situation. They are easier keepers than most horses, and can get very fat and become predisposed to metabolic problems and hoof problems (laminitis/founder) if allowed to get too fat.
Many donkeys have an innate dislike of canines. This is used to an advantage when they are used as a guard donkey for cattle or sheep. One time, as a veterinarian, I was called out to see a small goat that was attached by a donkey. A mini spotted donkey inadvertently attacked this goat when a coyote wandered through the pasture the animals were sharing and made him mad.
Their choppy gait is less comfortable than a horse's for riding, and their flat withers and small stature can make riding difficult, anyway. However, they can certainly excel as riding or driving animals in the right context and with the right training-using horse techniques may not work to train your donkey. Nonetheless, they are cute, hardy, and long-lived, and make great pets, companions, or guard animals.