Anah & Astuce – the donkeys

Changing a No to a Yes by Honouring the No while being patient and persistant“.

Anah & Astuce had been with Esther and David nearly two years when the universe brought us all together.

Anah was becoming impossible to halter and was in dire need of having her hooves trimmed. Astuce was wary about being touched, albeit more compliant. Both humans were getting more worried and concerned about their hooves.

Additionally Anah and David had a bit of a shared trauma as when Anah arrived she got off the trailer and kicked David, whereby he let go of the rope and Anah spent a good few weeks wandering their huge amount of land in a halter with a rope attached, avoiding any human who came near her.

Anah arrived with her sister but her sister sadly died and Astuce joined the family.

Esther found the Trust Technique video course and learnt the technique for sharing peace of mind. She started to share this with the donkeys and slowly they came to a more peaceful relationship. But Anah still didn’t trust enough to have a halter put back on and her hooves trimmed. Because it was becoming very uncomfortable for Anah, David & Esther found some help, but it involved cornering the donkeys and getting a halter on and then using ropes to lift their legs and feet for trimming. A very pressured system that may work a couple of times but is not ideal for the long term and has the added effect of breaking any trust built each time. Why?

Because the donkeys were saying No, and nobody was listening. What happens when we as humans have an intent to get something done, however good the intention, we go into a mode of thinking that produces a lot of feelings of concern, need, & worry, including levels of expectation, and then feelings of frustration when it doesn’t happen. This then rolls into more concern and worry. This was happening with David & Esther regarding their worry and concern around getting Anah trimmed.

The donkeys could sense all this worry and concern and intention everytime David & Esther came near them, especially with a halter. The donkeys would be saying No, long before either of them got near with a halter, and would just walk away.

Where we started was to learn to understand when a feeling or thought was getting in the way of the relationship. From here we could make sure we were sharing a feeling of peace rather than worry or concern. There was nothing we could do about getting the hooves trimmed, while the uppermost feeling was worry and concern. We changed that feeling.

We shared time with the donkeys in the present moment. No anxieties and no fears, just here and now. They started to respond by getting peaceful with us, and sharing that space. They started to trust that when we humans were around it wasn’t about ‘doing something’.

Once that shared feeling was established we started to introduce a request to touch. This is where we started to learn what their ‘No’ looked like, and what a ‘Yes’ looked like. It took many sessions with patience, and persistence, and most importantly ‘Honoring the No’, before we were allowed to touch. The more we said that No was okay, the more Yes’s we started to get. We could touch ears, and heads and a little down the neck. Never pushing an intent and never having any expectation. If we managed to touch a shoulder one day, it was okay if we didn’t the next. It is not about ‘progress’, it is about trust.

We introduced the halter in the same way and included a reward in the form of apple slices. There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting a thank you and a reward for something. But remember the feeling of peace, sharing the present moment, is the ultimate reward and should always be shared after giving a thank you with a reward attached

We also talked about the fear that was shared between the donkeys and the trimmer and decided to change the trimmer to a person with experience of working with donkeys who have had bad experiences. He has now trimmed Anah’s hooves after four visits just working in trust with her, listening to her No and respecting that, and waiting for the Yes. She is so much more comfortable and her body is healing. Her behaviours are changing as she releases her trauma’s and realises that she doesn’t need to always say No, because she can trust that when she does she will be listened to.

This change also affects Astuce’s confidence in saying No and Yes too, and the humans have relaxed, so are not bringing all those worry feelings to the relationship.

They are a wonderful family of humans, donkeys, goats, cats and chickens living in harmony, and it was a privelege to work and learn with them.

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