You have to be a friend, to have a friend.

We have a miniature donkey whose name is Noble. While he is extremely affectionate with children and adults, he struggles to get along with horses and cattle. This has grown into a sad situation, because Noble only spends a fraction of his time with humans. He lives most of his life out in the pasture with our miniature horses and longhorns.

When we first brought Noble home, I was proud of our mini horses for allowing him to play with them. We began to notice that every now and then the horses would let forth an annoyed whinny sound, followed by the horses quickly kicking at Noble and pushing him away.

Our sympathy for poor Noble grew, as we saw the horses push him away more and more often, until one day, when we saw the whole picture of what was happening.

We noticed our horses tails were thinning out at a rapid rate. Perhaps, they were just thinning out for summer? Although, none of us had ever seen them get so thin and straggly before. This was alarming, because our horses are therapy animals. We don’t just want them to be well-behaved. Looking cute with full fluffy tails is also a big part of their job. Who would want a therapy horse with just a few meager strands for a tail? To make matters worse, their thick gorgeous manes were also starting to thin out rapidly.

One warm sunny day I happened to catch a glimpse of Noble “playing” with his the horses right before the minis whinnied and kicked him. He approached the tiniest one, “Mercy,” from the back and appeared to be pulling multiple batches of tail hairs out with his mouth! Then quickly, the other mini horse, named “Goodness,” swung her back hooves in his direction to give him a swift kick while she made a threatening whinny sound. This act of “Goodness” was followed by quite a mean and ugly glare! In our family, this is where the saying “Goodness gracious!” came from.

I could hardly believe it. Noble had been pulling the hair out of their tails and manes all this time! No wonder the horses were pushing him away from them. Or maybe, just maybe I was imagining things. Noble was so sweet and almost emotionally needy with all us humans.

A good friend of ours had been coming out to help at the barn and had acquired a special place in his heart for Noble. I knew he had been spending some extra time with the donkey, so I went out of my way to catch him on one of his visits to see Noble. I asked him if he thought Noble was capable of this naughty behavior. Terry quickly replied, “Oh I know he is. I’ve been pulling foot-long white hairs out of his front teeth every time I come out here.”

As upsetting as that information was, I found myself laughing pretty hard trying to imagine the conversation this man had been having with this donkey as he pulled extremely long and stringy hair out of his teeth each time he came to visit.  Well, I had to admit it was a Noble gesture!

Needless to say, we moved Noble to the back pasture to be with the Longhorns. We knew Noble preferred the horses. After all, Noble is an equine creature, like the horses. They have more in common. And, let’s face it, cows just aren’t that smart.

But, to have equine friends, you have to first be an equine friend. Noble had lost his chance at that.

Do you think Noble was able to pull himself together and have a solid friendship with the cows?

Oh boy. You won’t believe what happened next.

I never saw it coming! …to be continued.