A Tale of Two Donkeys

Into the Wild, Part 1

A Tale of Two DonkeysBy KELLY ANNE COSNER, News Review Correspondent

It wasn’t a new year’s resolution, exactly — it started with the findings from my annual physical. Every result came back normal except for one — I was borderline deficient in Vitamin D. Seriously? I live in one of the sunniest cities in the nation, how was I deficient in the Sunshine Vitamin?

Although I love the outdoors, it turns out spending my days cooking good food, washing clothes, cleaning floors and getting caught up in the demands of being a stay-at-home wife and mother of four beautiful daughters all happens, well, indoors.

So in addition to the doctor’s prescribed Vitamin D supplement, I decided I would also carve out time to get outside and soak up some sunshine.

But, actually, I need to back up even more to really explain the solution to my problem.

I am an animal person. And one of my greatest loves has always been horses (well, all equines, really.) This trait runs in my family (my mother rode horses until she was seven months pregnant with me), and I’ve possessed it as long as I can remember. Being the aforementioned demands of motherhood, and the risks of being an equestrian, required that I put this passion on hold. At least for a time.

Have you ever been out and about when something catches your eye and you just feel you need to stop, observe, and find out what you’re seeing? This happened to me a while back — when something quite literally crossed my path and opened up a new opportunity.

Enter donkeys. Yep, you read that correctly — donkeys. Scientific name, Equus Asinus, also more commonly known around here as a Burro. So there I was, on the south end of the valley, when I spotted two people on the side of the road leading a pair of donkeys through the desert. I had to know more.

So, I pulled over and asked, “What’re you doing? Why donkeys? And how do I get involved?”

It turned out that Karin Usko and her husband John Auborn were training their pack burros for a race and they were more than happy to share all about their group. Karin and John gentle and train wild burros from the Bureau of Land Management holding facility to give them a better shot at being adopted into a loving home.

Once I told Karin about my history with horses, and that we lived on a small farm in Inyokern with room to set up a pen, she walked me through the process of becoming a trainer myself. Next thing I knew I came home with two burros — Abraham and Isaac. After they were trained, Isaac was adopted by a family who fell in love with him. Abraham stayed. I had fallen in love with him (something Karin warned me not to do.) He’s the ugliest, curly-haired, long-eared, teddy bear of an equine I’d ever known, and I just couldn’t send him away.

Well, it didn’t take long before I realized he was lonely. Really lonely. Karin had a solution: Tita — a beautiful, sleek, chocolate-colored donkey with the prettiest face I’d ever seen. She needed a home, and Abraham needed a friend. The rest is history.

So, now that I had two loving donkeys, all I needed to do was get out and go hiking with them. But there was a small hitch in my plan: we were in the process of moving off of our property and into the suburbs. Thankfully, my parents are still on property and very generously offered to house my donkeys. We got them settled in, but my plans to train and hike with them was put on hold for almost eight months. I visited them often, but rarely had the time to take them out and work with them, and that inactivity cost us the ground we had gained.

That brings us back to the present solution to my Vitamin D deficiency. And now I am back on track with my donkeys and getting out regularly in the sunshine — something I owed to them and two myself.

The future is still being written, though, as me and my donkeys move into our next adventure. But that’s another column for another day …

Kelly Anne Cosner was born and reared in the Indian Wells Valley. In addition to being a mother, an animal whisperer and a writer, she has been a farmer, a leather worker, a woodworker, a metal-worker and all-around McGyver. Watch this page for future installments of “Into the Wild.”

Story First Published: 2020-03-06