I have had a few people ask me (or troll me) about why it is inhumane to rope a donkey or play basketball on a donkey vs. riding, packing, driving a donkey. Here is why:
1. Riding/packing/driving donkeys are trained to do so. The word "trained" is important here. That means that you have taken the time, patience, and built trust with the animal to teach them, step by step, how to do certain things on your cue. The donkey must understand and WANT to do it for you. Donkey basketball, on the other hand, is usually not employing well trained donkeys who have a relationship with their rider. They are random heavy riders on small donkeys who just jump up there. Donkeys, because of their stoic nature, may not respond at all. Does not mean they aren't scared. They do not understand what is going on, because they have no preparation, no training, and no relationship with their rider. Again, this spot is only for laughs, and it demeans the donkeys as well.
2. Riding/packing/driving if done CORRECTLY and if you use good fitting tack, does not physically harm the donkey. Roping, however, yanks HARD on an animals legs or neck, causing lasting physical damage to muscles, ligaments, and joints.
3. Steers used for roping (and no, I do not condone roping with steers unless it is done in a non-timed event) have horns and special pads on those horns to keep them from getting rope burns. Yes, if they rope feet it can harm them. However, steers have thicker skin. Not that that makes it better.
4. Donkeys, on the other hand, have very thin skin! They also have very delicate joints and ligaments. In Donkey Basketball, the donkeys are usually ridden on a hard, slick surface by people who are FAR FAR too large to be on them. Anyone who knows anything about equine joints understands that this will cause lasting damage over time.
5. Most people do not require steers to be halter broke to get feet cared for, vaccinations, etc. Donkeys, on the other hand, in order to be cared for properly, require at least a modicum of training and trust so that you can properly get their hooves cared for and doctor them if they are ill or hurt. Rope a donkey? They will NOT trust you to ever catch or halter them. This makes it a welfare issue from this aspect alone. I have worked with donkeys who have been roped. They are SCARED of lead ropes.
6. Mentally, donkeys do not handle being chased and roped very well. They get skittish and frightened of humans and horses. This makes them much harder to handle the more you rope them. This, again, like point number 5, makes it unreasonable to rope donkeys. It would be like buying a bunch of young horses just to scare them so that they can never be rideable. Why would anyone do that? For entertainment and human pleasure.
7. As we all know, donkeys are one of the MOST abused and neglected domestic animals on our planet. By putting them into spots that demean them and only give them value for laughs at their expense, we are perpetuating the stereotypes that have kept donkeys low in the esteem of humans for so long. It also perpetuates the myth that donkeys are stupid and not worth much unless we can laugh at them or harm them. This is NOT ok. Some of us work very hard to clear misconceptions about donkeys and what they can do.
So, in conclusion to this long winded post, I hope I have outlined why exactly it is abuse to exploit donkeys for our pleasure and excitement, where as partnering and training a donkey is a whole different ballgame. Totally different. This may help you if you ever need to explain to another why these "sports" are not ok. Thank you for your time!