Area donkey is distinguished champion
Published: Saturday, January 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, December 31, 2004 at 10:19 p.m.
Karl Schneider and Brat walk to the training area together. Brat is carting an old doctor's buggy restored by the Amish.
Nancy Davis baby-talks Brat after he fell asleep while resting his head in her hand.
The NASMA 2004 World's Show Open Donkey Barrels champion belt buckle.
Area donkey is a national and world barrel racing champion
Training to defend his world title will have to wait for a speed champion living in rural Gilchrist County.
He is taking off a couple of months to rest, relax and recover from the thousands of miles he traveled to win a national and a world title in 2004.
Brat, whose registered name is Highpoint Farms Joshua, is a 5-year-old mammoth donkey who won national and world barrel racing titles last year.
In April in Virginia, Brat won the national title at the American Donkey and Mule Society championship while being ridden by Karl Schneider. In October in Oklahoma, Schneider's wife, Nancy Davis, was riding Brat when he won the same event at the world championship sanctioned by the North American Saddle Mule Association.
"Donkeys aren't known for their speed," Schneider said. "They go at about two-thirds the speed of a horse."
Davis said that she likes to think of donkeys as energywise animals who rarely expend unnecessary energy on tasks like running.
"That is why they are ideal for adults and children who are just learning to ride - they aren't going to bolt across the pasture," Davis said. "Horses are flight animals who just run and donkeys have different instincts and abilities."
Brat's best time in a barrel race - which involves riding as fast as possible in a clover leaf pattern around three widely-spaced barrels inside an arena - is 28.6 seconds. A horse who can make the same trip in slightly more than 15 seconds can often win national horse shows.
After a lifetime of raising and showing animals, Schneider has concluded that "donkeys aren't as athletic as horses, but they are very people friendly and very predictable."
Donkeys friendly? Aren't they the animals often portrayed on television and in movies as wildly kicking, stubborn beasts used as pack animals?
"They aren't stubborn, just cautious," Davis said. "If something doesn't feel safe, they won't do it. They have a bad reputation, but it comes from people who don't know how to handle donkeys."
Schneider said that once donkeys know the rules, they will follow them if their handlers are consistent.
In addition to barrel racing, Brat also competes in events like snigging - pulling a log through a serpentine course - and driving, which involves pulling a cart. He was named most versatile donkey at the North Carolina State Fair.
Karen Voyles can be reached at (352) 486-5058 or voylesk@ gvillesun.com.
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