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April 24, 2013
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Donkeys take to the court in Gypsum tonight

Training a donkey to play basketball is a lot like training teenagers, who are about the same age as the donkeys playing in tonight's donkey basketball game at Eagle Valley High School.

Bruce Wick owns Donkey Sports and has trained both donkeys and teenagers.

Like the teens who'll be riding some of them against a team of faculty and staff, training a donkey is not an exact science and takes an undetermined amount of time.

Both can be a handful to train, and if a donkey has a tendency to kick or bite, then they may not seem like they're worth it, either.

But, like kids, most work out just fine.

Put the hard heads with others that already know the drill and they tend to pick it up pretty quickly, Wick said.

"They're easy going but willing to go," Wick said.

Four donkeys, four riders

Lynn Trudeau went to a Project Graduation planning meeting and when she wasn't paying much attention one of her colleagues said, "Could you look into donkey basketball? Principal Greg Doan thinks this is a really good idea."

It'll be hilarious.

For the uninitiated, donkey basketball is like regular basketball, one of the greatest innovations ever designed to improve the human condition. Another is barbecue.

Donkey basketball is played on a standard basketball court, but the players ride donkeys. Four donkeys and four riders per side, all striving for whatever donkeys strive for. What the riders strive for appears pretty much irrelevant - at least to the donkeys.

There are a few people who insist donkey basketball is cruel to the donkeys.

Wick and others disagree, pointing out that their donkeys are pretty much pampered and spoiled.

Wick says his donkeys are trained to do what the referees want them to do. The donkey knows its way to the basket and a good rider helps.

"The better the riders, the better the show we put on," Wick said.

Sportsmen like donkeys

The donkeys were in Glenwood during the weekend, Delta on Tuesday and come to Eagle Valley High School today.

They'll be in eastern Colorado for a couple weeks, then head north to Wyoming, spend a couple weeks in Montana, and then head back to Washington for some rest.

The donkeys get to rest, that is. Not the hands who drive them around and tend to their every desire.

By the time they get back it'll be time to start getting ready for summer trail rides and pack trips. They run sleigh rides in the winter.

But the donkeys only play basketball and occasionally baseball. They're purists and true sportsmen.

Putting that much time on the road is a little like being a rock band, only the donkeys smell better.

Donkey defined

The donkey, or ass, equus africanus asinus, is a domesticated member of the equidae, or horse, family. The wild ancestor of the donkey is the African wild ass, e. africanus. The donkey has been used as a working animal for at least 5,000 years, hence the phrase "working your ass off."

If you celebrated Good Friday you know that Jesus triumphantly rode into Jerusalem on an ass. The Old Testament character Samson slew 1,000 men with the jawbone of an ass.

From the jawbone of an ass springs the flapdoodle favored American politicians and other members of the chattering class, which rhymes with the animal we're discussing.

And finally, the humble ass was never so hilarious as Donkey in the movie "Shrek."

"Danke Schoen" is not the same as Donkey Schoen. "Danke Schoen" is famous because Wayne Netwon got famous singing it, and because you heard it in the movie "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." Laila Kinnunun sang a Finnish version of it, but they don't play donkey basketball in Finland.

"Danke schon" is the German equivalent of "thank you very much," which is irrelevant because the donkeys don't speak German. We don't know if Wayne Newton speaks German.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.


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The VailDaily Updated Apr 24, 2013 05:10PM Published Apr 24, 2013 05:07PM Copyright 2013 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.