I first saw Yan in our local small town of Arles sur Tech, sitting having a coffee just outside a cafe, with his 2 dogs and donkey tied up on the railings by the road. It’s not something you see every day so I thought he looked like an interesting guy. Since then I have seen him on other people’s instagram pages at the market in Amelie, or in local newpapers taking kids for donkey rides on the beach at Argeles. So he has become quite well known in the area.
I saw him in Corsavy village a couple of weeks ago with his menagerie, so I stopped for a chat. He was on his way up to Batere where he had his tipi and his chickens. I told him about my 2 female Catalan donkeys (Phoebe and Fiona) who are half wild and how I would love to be able to lead them around and to train them to carry packs and the kids so they are more use to us than just for clearing paddocks. They are too intelligent just to do that anyway; they get bored.
So he said he would come up and meet them, with his donkey, Martin and see if he could train them for me. Martin is an entire male so we might just end up with baby donkeys in a year or so! He also brought a friend and his 2 dogs. He said he would get a head collar on today, but I was not convinced because we have had 2 equine experts try and fail in the past; and of course many hours of me standing in a field with a dry bit of bread!
The 3 of us spent about 2 hours chasing my girls around overgrown mountain terrain, through nettles and brambles (should have worn trousers, not short shorts-ouch!), and pretty soon, he managed to get a rope around Fiona’s neck. I got hold of the end of the rope & tied it around a tree. She understood she was attached and then after some petting, she allowed Yan to put the head collar on. She then let me lead her back up to the paddock, where Yan put a pack on her back! I couldn’t believe it!
He has taken all 3 donkeys back up to Batere where he will work on getting a head collar on Phoebe and training them both with packs for a couple of weeks. Then he just might be the guy who takes our guests on walks up the mountain with donkeys to carry picnics and the kids!
We will go and visit in a couple of days and see how he is getting on.