I have seen some blog posts, notably this one from the Mugwump chronicles (click here) that describe humane methods of using donkeys for roping practice. I acknowledge that there may be ways of using donkeys as an aid in training roping horses that do not harm the donkeys. I have seen videos of this and I agree it can be done and done well. I also see that there is value in training these donkeys this way. If the majority of roping donkeys were treated like this, I would support it whole-heartedly. Anything that makes a donkey more economically valuable is a good thing. It's the best insurance of good treatment an animal can have.
However, this kind of training really has nothing to do with donkey roping competitions. Once these donkeys are forced to run into an arena using a cattle prod, chased down by a team of ropers in a timed event and thrown to the ground as fast and as hard as possible so that they go down and stay down...well, there just isn't any way to do that in a humane way.
These competitions are not training sessions. The roping horses are not there to learn new skills. These donkeys are not being taught anything useful. This is not helping to promote donkeys or increase their monetary value, far from it in fact.
The reason you won't see many posts of this nature on this blog is that it is too easy to point fingers and cry foul. There is far too much of that floating around the web already. I believe that if you really want to help an animal (or person), then just go out and do it. Lord knows, you won't have to look far.
However, some things need exposing, they need public awareness and outcry. We need for our community as a whole to simply say "this is not acceptable". Look to the gaited horse industry and the horrors of soreing that have been going on for decades if you need an example. Donkey roping is a fairly new "sport". Lets try to put a stop to it before it becomes an entrenched tradition and way of life.
If you have made it this far and are still with me up here on my soap-box, here is another name for your mailing list. This guy is a donkey roping promoter:
Dos Gringos Productions
If you sent a message to the Van Horn Chamber of Commerce, please pass it on to this guy as well. He is not just the local Chamber of Commerce, but one of the guys actually promoting these events across the Southwest.
Thank you to all of you who have taken the time to read this and thank you again to those who have taken action.