GIDDINGS, Texas - Beverly and Mike Donawho walked around the donkey pens at the Lee County Sheriff’s Posse Arena for a few hours searching for just the right one.
“We are just walking around and looking at their demeanors and watching how they watch us and seeing how they react to the other donkeys in the pen,” Beverly said. “We just really are looking for personality.”
The arena was hosting the Bureau of Land Management’s adoption event presenting about 90 wild horses and burros. Adopters receive criminal background checks to make sure there is no history of animal abuse and if an animal is adopted the family is given a $1,000 incentive.
The agency rescued the animals from western states like Arizona and Nevada.
Crystal Cowan and Wild Horse and Burro Specialist said the animals were living in difficult conditions. “There’s not enough forage there’s not enough water some of the herd management areas they’ll have to walk 50 miles a day for water so if we did nothing they would overpopulate and starve to death,” Cowan said. “It’s really good for the animals that we’ve gathered them and offered up to the public.”
Mike said his family has ten horses but he and Beverly wanted a burro to protect the herd and to take to competitions.
In April of last year, Mike broke his back at work and could no longer ride alongside his wife in equine competitions. Competing is less of a hobby and more of a lifestyle for the two.
The adoption event gives Mike the opportunity to find a prized donkey he can show off while his wife rides her mare. “So now we can compete together and more than just me being her barn boy I can actually go back to being a team member,” he laughed. “To see one go from wild to mild and see the that they look to you with their care and their comfort and that you’re taking care of them it’s amazing, it truly is.”
Beverly had her eye on an 8-year-old hinny while Mike had sights on a younger burro he began to call Nacho because she had a notch on her right ear, “she’s already imperfect just like the rest of us,” he said.
The event brought returning adopters like Anne Kennedy. Kennedy adopted a rescue horse she named Ghost. The two have been together for more than ten years Ghost is now a therapy horse helping children with special needs and wounded warriors at Upward Transitions Therapeutic Horsemanship in Helotes.
Kennedy said Ghost saved her as much as she saved him. “For myself, I was in my 20’s you know that’s a time when you are working to find yourself and I know I worked through a lot of my stuff with that horse and it paid off because now he can do the same for others,” said Kennedy.
The bidding process took off at noon. T
he Donawho’s had their auction number in hand. Mike said he was willing to go as high as he needed. Another man bid against him but in the end, Mike won and the Donawho’s were ecstatic ready to take Nacho home.
“I’m beside myself I’m truly, I’m so excited just to be able to have the opportunity to know that I am going to take her home,” Mike said. “Nacho doesn’t have a clue but her life is going to completely change all for the better.
The adoption event will end Saturday, February 1st at noon BLM has more information online on where and when to participate in the adoption program.