Author Archives: Teamdonk

About Teamdonk

Teamdonk is all about Kristi's three driving and riding donkeys. Join us as we share our adventures. Meet the boys Luc, Galahad and Merlin. Don't forget to visit the older blogs at, 2010, 2011, 2012 13 & 14 add the year like this

Dec 30, 2014

Snow Donkeys

It has happened, this year is quickly coming to a close.  As you can see a very dirty, but content, Teamdonk plans to nap their way into a brand new year.  At zero point two degrees fahrenheit their thick unruly hair coats will absorb enough rays to keep them comfortable.  Mammoth Donkeys don’t seem to mind the cold as long as there is plenty of hay, loose salt, heated water and a three sided pasture shelter to escape the elements. Don’t forget their daily breakfast… oh my gosh …. Don’t Forget BREAKFAST!!!

Happy New Year from RMS Magical Merlin, first in line, OK Sir Galahad and at the end of the line RMS LippyLuver Luc. Jim and Kristi

Snow Donkeys

PS Click on the photos to increase their size for easier viewing.  In January plan to follow the new Teamdonk blog at


A Flurry of Upgrades!

You have probably seen Teamdonk’s new Modified Breeching.. if not go back to  to see the breeching transformation.  That was my first #1 fall project.

I am so excited about this next upgrade I can hardly stand the wait before hitching again!  Our newest edition reminds me of the famous Cape Cart.  This design of a two wheeled cart for pairs was a huge success across several continents.  Take a look at where the single trees are mounted on this Cape Cart.Cape-cart

Cape_cartPart of why this cart was such a superstar in its day was the unique method of adding a pole across the front of the horses that was a part of the harness.  **Please Note** this illustration is incorrect, I use it only as a general idea of how the cape harness looked.

The Pacific Gig is the most comfortable riding of the two wheeled poled vehicles that I use, unfortunately it was intolerable for the donkeys to pull due to their height and the incorrect line of draft when compounded with a collared harness.

To explore more on about this topic I highly recommend Barb Lee’s booklet entitled, “Understanding Harness Balanced Draft, Breast and Neck Collars”.  Every driver, new or experienced, should own a copy of this detailed book.  It is my harness driving bible.

This diagram is from Barb Lee’s book and demonstrates what I have been up against.


Turnout D Horse is hitched to a high (Horizontal) draft vehicle with a neck collar.  Acute angle between hame and trace will divert weight to lower third of collar, with little or no weight bearing above the traces.  Very little body mass above the load.  Traces are very high above center of draft.  This is an inappropriate combination.”

Before I had the single trees lowered I researched the internet and my collection of driving books and was astonished to find newer CDE four wheeled vehicles with collared harness and single trees located near the top of the pole.  Experience has taught me this was very inefficient and the line of draft was creating incorrect trace position on the collar which forces the top of the collar to rock forward. This made the teams want to back off and not push into their collars.  The other ways to fix this was to change the line of draft at the collar with an adjustable hame or go to a breast collar harness.

TD #2 and Pacific GigHere is a photo of Hank hitched to the Pacific Gig with Merlin before the single trees were lowered.  I printed this photo out and drew lines in where I felt the correct line of draft angle should be.  That helped to determine the needed changes.

Now back from the welder the single trees have been dropped 11 1/4 inches by moving the pole braces, and rehanging the single trees.  Here is how they look on the Pacific Gig looks now.


For larger viewing of the photos and diagrams  click on them to increase their size.

The shorter length breeching with the addition of the Yankee Breeching Straps that run across the top of the butt will really help Teamdonk to hold the cart back when cruising down our steep hills.   Dropping the single trees on the Gig should make that vehicle useable again, I really cannot wait to test all our new upgrades and let you know if it is a thumbs up!

It really does take a great deal of engineering to attach two animals to a two wheeled cart.  I don’t believe you can just take any two wheeled vehicle and attach a pole and make it work effectively out of an arena situation.  The donkeys and myself love our Teamdonk off-roading adventures and 2015 is looking to be a terrific driving year, anyone up for a ride?

Happy Thanksgiving to all our Teamdonk Friends!

Jim, Kristi, Luc, Galahad and Merlin

US National Weather Service

Dave Noble of the NOAA weather service in Missoula, Montana has just used a Teamdonk photo as background.  We are honored!


It has been lightly snowing since shortly after 2pm.  Grangeville has approximately 3/4 inch of snow and the streets are slick.  At the farm we probably only have about a half inch.  Not to much to report.

Harness is washed, oiled and hung … looks like winter is about to settle into North Central Idaho.

Getting ready for……

Teamdonk is busy…very very busy… They are in their getting beefed up for a bad winter mode.  Whatever this upcoming season throws at them they plan to be ready.  Snow, cold…yeah bring it on!

Teamdonk Nov 2014Click on the photo to show just how round they are getting… of course the rounder they get the more I get to drive it off them!!!  Guess who gets the last laugh in this story!

Today was their fall full moon worming, the farrier is coming next week and then it will be settle in and see what winter throws at us.  One thing about it… we will be ready!

The Modified Yankee Breeching is Done!

In the last post I was on the way to the harness makers to pick up the new shorter length breechings and the Yankee Breeching Straps.  I was able to get Luc and Galahad’s installed at that time.   I really did want to go for a drive but some very unusual winds kicked up that put Galahad into “freak out” mode, and he was much to dangerous to hook to a two wheeled cart.  I had to pull harness and get him back to the pasture before he did sometime to hurt me or himself.  I’ve never had a donkey act like this, he was definitely scared and upset.  As soon as the winds died down he was just fine so all ended well. It was a productive afternoon as I starting  the process of washing harness and carts to get ready for winter.

Today I was able to get Merlin’s new setup from my local harness maker,  I even was able to get it tried on and adjusted.  All three of the donkey boys new pieces fit perfectly, but  I won’t beabe to do the final adjustments until we are hitched and driving.  The quarter straps, the length of the modified yankee breeching may take a few outings to get everything into sync.   The breeching straps are shorter and that should make a huge difference on how everything else works.  I’m excited to test drive it.  Click on the photos to bring them up to full size..

Here is Merlin’s new equipment from the rear.

Modified Yankee Breeching The other two views are from the sides.  Modified Yankee BreechingModified Yankee Breeching


Oh No Where did All the Hay Go?

Sunday morning Oct 19, 2014 The boys were not happy with their lack of hay situation and they let me know all about it, very loudly I might add….DSC02036

Don’t tell Jim but I broke into the “good stuff” in the barn.  They liked it so well they were begging for more when I got home from work!  So they got it!  🙂




Going to the harness makers in the morning to get their modified Yankee Breeching straps and the new shorter breechings.  Hopefully we will get a chance to test it out before the rains return.

To bring the photos up to full size one click on the picture will do it!

Another Perfect October Day At The Office.

Bronson Cattle

Another day trip took us to Meadow Creek and the cattle.  Nik had to round up pairs on her quiet bike with the fat tires, no horses or mules used in this modern age.  It did not take her long to bring in the strays and get everyone back together.  Dad and I had a great time just hanging out talking cattle, calves, market weights and general ranch talk.

This is my 95 year old father, the stories he can tell of this lifestyle, I can never get enough!

Bamps Oct 2014 at the cattle

Nik hand feeding






Nik is hand feeding one of her favorites.


The girls coming in for salt

The girls coming in for salt


I had a great time seeing family and dear friends.  Jim kept the Teamdonk boys happy and very well fed.  They did great while I was out playing!

To bring the photos up to full size be sure to click on them.

Just Another Day At the Office

Bronson Sheep

Spent a little family time recently away from Teamdonk and Jim traveling to Southern Idaho. That of course meant some pretty WOW day trips with my Dad, Niece and Nephew.  Nik and Sean shared their daily fun and game adventures by including me.  The weather was absolutely beautiful with warm sunny days.

Bronson Sheep

It is lamb shipping season which put us near the Utah border on the Blackpine Mountain range.  Glen is the herder and to do his job he has several guard and herding dogs and good old Lester.  Lester is getting up there in years so Glen takes extra special care of the old boy.Bronson Sheep

Glen had the sheep corralled and ready to be sorted by the time Sean and I arrived. Nik brought the recently purchased Rams with her.  For those who know sheep breeds they are Columbians and poled Rambouillets which will give them some nice big lambs ready for market this time next year.

If you would like to see the photos full size, click and see what happens!The new bucks and one of the new herding puppies

Every Spring and Every Fall

You can set your calendars by it!  Every Spring and every Fall Merlin has his semi-annual abscess. Wednesday, October 1, 2014 Merlin showed up to breakfast with a slight limp.  Once I was sure he really was limping I took the Digital Laser Thermometer out to take hoof and leg temperatures.  Above the hoof in the back of the pastern I could feel some heat and then it was very warm up along the side of the leg on the inside. The concern came from his lower leg temperature which registered 110 degrees, everyone else was a cool 65 degrees.   I taped an ice pack on it and wrapped it using an old tee-shirt to keep the cold in.  After two hours of wearing the iced pellets his leg temperature was slightly warm, I’ll continue to monitor it during the day and reapply the ice pack if needed. Merlin's hot leg Above the hoof and over the coronary band I taped a preemie diaper filled with Ichammol and food grade sulfur to help draw the infection out. He was also started on 1 gram of powered Butte and a packet of Uniprim mixed with applesauce administered orally.  He will get a second gram of butte later in the day, if needed.  This will need to continue for the next nine days.  If nothing else Merlin has taught me a lot about how to treat his recurring abscesses.

This one can not even be blamed on fall grass as we still are lacking the moisture needed to revive the pastures. If I am not seeing improvement come Sunday evening I guess my vacation plans to visit family will be canceled so I can stay home and make sure he gets over this quickly.  Looks like he is done driving and riding for the year.

On a happy note…September driving was wonderful with eight drives on Merlin and Galahad.  We ended the month logging in over a total of 590 driving hours and over 1,121 miles since 2006.  I’m still hoping for more drives in October with Luc and Galahad before winter sets in for good.

4 pm update:  There was no heat in Merlin’s leg and he has a very mild limp.  Here’s hoping it does not blow up into an abscess.

The Little Things

How often we forget those little things that could someday really matter.  Take the simple word Whoa.  It is a word that almost every working animal, no matter the circumstance, should be taught, understand and respond to, excluding dogs of course! This team has been ignoring the word Whoa and making me use the lines for a stop so today and for the next few driving sessions we are going to spend time working on stopping on the spoken word … whoa!

Here is today’s video and a small portion of the end of our training session.

It was warm and windy this morning with ten miles of beautiful prairie visibility.  Our driving temp was 77 degrees with N NE Winds gusting to 23 mph during our outing.  The leaves are turning and beginning to fall from the sugar maples that surround our home.  The air is crisp especially in the mornings and the sun is loosing it’s intensity, what a great time of the year!  Yesterday was the first day of fall and one can tell the season has taken a turn. Rain and cooler temps have re-entered the forecast, we hope it is not just another moisture tease.

I am noticing how the breechings are not touching the boys since I’ve added the modified yankee breeching straps.  Now I am wondering if I need to have the breeching remade.  Luc’s harness has a shorter breeching and I’m thinking of switching Galahad’s and Luc’s harness breeching.  That should tell the tale on what needs done. This afternoons project I’m thinking!

Next drive will be weather depending, it’s a wait and see game!

Merlin & Galahad Sept 5, 2014

Today’s photo is from earlier this month taken in Bob’s hayfield that we enjoyed driving in.  I love the colors in this picture.  It was before the modified breeching was added.  Click on the picture to bring it up to fill size.