Can You Ride a Donkey: How to Train them for Riding?

Yes, you can ride but only if you are of the appropriate size that donkeys can carry. Donkeys are not commonly used for riding, they are typically used and raised as pets, livestock guard, or sire mules. In some underdeveloped countries, they are plowing fields, pulling carts functioning as draft animals.

You can ride a donkey but do they like being ridden?

It’s simple, this tactile, affectionate, steady creature doesn’t mind being ridden if the weight is bearable but if it gets intolerable they may consider it a burden rather than a recreational activity. In general, if they do not find it enjoyable then they don’t hate it either maybe because they are used to carrying or pulling weight.

Donkeys and mules both can be ridden but there are restrictions

Mules that are the outcome of horse and donkey breeding and donkeys both can be ridden but there are some restrictions i.e. weight, height, age. These two creatures are hardy and stronger than the horses but can not beat horses in this race.

Mules are better for riding than donkeys

If you can not afford to keep or ride a horse then mules are the second-best option and donkeys third. Mules extract the best characteristics of their parents(horse and donkey), they are fast moving, larger, hardy, so they can be a better riding option than donkeys. They are admired for giving comfortable rides.

Kids can ride any-sized donkey but adults have to be careful 

Kids can enjoy donkey rides without any solid requirements and or restrictions but fully-mature adults have to be careful because donkeys may or may not be able to handle the height and weight.

Read Horse Riding for Toddlers

Donkeys are more reliable for riding than horses

Horses may have made for riding but donkeys are far less finicky than horses. Their sweet and gentle nature makes them a reliable option for kids riding. Horses are a little tough to handle with kids on but donkeys are short and perfect for this job.

It’s clear to you that donkeys can give rides but only if the rider’s height and weight are bearable. However, donkeys can be ridden by kids without any restrictions. Let’s move ahead and discuss how much weight a donkey can handle.

I know a lot of you might have been wondering whether you can take donkeys for a ride or not? Let’s move ahead and discuss how much weight it can carry on their back? And all other important details you need to know.

So, how much weight a donkey can carry?

Donkeys can only carry 20 to 30 percent of their total weight on their backs whether it’s human or commodities. For example, a fully grown donkey, on average, can be somewhere around 80 to 480 kgs so the maximum weight an 80 kg donkey can carry is 24 kgs.(Resource)

The above example can tell donkeys have to capacity to give rides to kids only as the fully grown man can never be 24 kgs. Don’t you agree? Whereas, the horses can handle up to 35% of their total body weight with ease.

You can also check on your own how much weight your donkey can carry by taking the height measurement and multiplying it by the girth circumference. The obtained answer should then be multiplied torso length and divide the figures you have got by 300. Congratulations! This is the donkey’s actual weight. You just now have to judge how much weight it can handle.

donkey riding tips

How old a donkey should be for ridding?

To be able to give ride horses, mules, and donkeys need to be mature mentally and physically. Horses grow quickly mentally and physically, a healthy three to four years of age horse can give a ride to a fully grown horse admirer whereas the donkeys catch this maturity a little late than their identical cousins, they need to be at least 5 or 6 years old to be used for this purpose.

The donkey should be willing to do so

It’s important to get the donkey’s approval, if they are not willing to carry anyone their back, the reinforcement may turn them into a ninja. If the donkey doesn’t allow you to have a ride, take a back seat and give this animal a break. It’s not easy to handle a stubborn and meaner donkey.

Whether you can ride or not depends on the health condition as well

Whether you can ride or not also depends on the health condition of a donkey. The donkeys that are used to carrying weight, pulling weight, or even staying alert and active may handle a kid or a teenager on their backs. A pet donkey that has been pampered throughout his life may not be able to give rides.

Related Can Donkeys Reproduce?

Donkeys have to be trained to give rides

It’s not heavily paid professional training that they require but just a little know-how from the master is enough to shape it into the best riding creature.

There are few things you need to know before you start training your donkey for riding;

  • Donkeys are slow learners, so you have to be patient and gentle.
  • Geldings are more suitable for riding. Jennys have different preferences whereas jacks are just too wild to be ridden. 
  • Donkeys may not run as fast as horses with a rider on their backs. They prefer to walk instead.
  • Donkey rides would never be any similar to horse riding. It would be a unique experience.
  • The donkey may not be able to carry the burden for more than a few minutes.
  • You need a physically healthy, active, and alert donkey for this job.
  • You have to understand their requirements and needs.
  • It may take a week or two to train the donkey for riding.
  • They must have to have a strong bond with the rider.

Note; The last point should be taken very seriously if you do not want the donkey or the rider to get hurt.

So, if you have found a donkey who is mature and familiar with you. You are good to go. At this point, you need to know that a mid-sized donkey can only carry Children whereas, the mammoth size donkey is more suitable for adults. 


How to Train Donkey for Riding?

  • Now as the first step towards the training, you need to notice their behavior towards carrying loads. Start small and slowly increase the weight on their back and judge their behavior for at least two days.
  • Spend time more time with the donkey before attempting to ride.
  • Get them used to carry a saddle on their back. The saddle should be specifically made for the donkey as their body structure is different and the backs are much wider than the horses.
  • Get them familiar with the basic walk and stop commands. It can be verbal or non-verbal whatever helps your donkey to learns faster. Remember! Be patient and do not kick.
  • Offer treats. Offering treats would help you in taming the horse. You can also provide warm shelter, freshwater, and easy access to feed to make them vulnerable for riding.
  • Keep training and taming until you get the green signal.

Once the donkey is willing to give ride gently help yourself up the saddle and use the walk command to convince the donkey to walk. Choose the smooth right road and come down before the donkey feels fatigued. Give the donkey a good rest and try attempting to ride again and again for few minutes daily until they get used to it. 


Yes, donkeys can be ridden but they have weight and height restrictions. Most donkeys can only give rides to children and teenagers but an exceptional mammoth-sized donkey can also carry an adult according to their body weight. On average, a donkey can only carry 20 to 30 percent of their total body weight on their back.

The donkey should be four to five years of age, alert and active. Donkeys should be trained and familiar with the rider. Mules are better than donkeys for this purpose as they are much larger and stronger than the said creature. 

Lastly, this article is solely based on experience, for better advice consult a professional. I hope this article has enlightened you. Good luck and happy riding.

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Hi, I am Waqar and active in the horse world since 2012. I have MSc (Hons) in Agriculture from the University of Agriculture Faisalabad. I love to solve equine health care issues and note down in the form of research papers. I have written hundreds of equine health care, accessories, names, and history-related blogs. My equine related work is watering a lot of horse-related magazines and blogs.

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