“Donkeys are so versatile. They’re such fabulous animals and everybody thinks they’re stubborn and stupid,” Cindy said. “They’re the smartest animals around. They’re smarter than a lot of dogs.”
The Casons’ donkeys, registered with the National Miniature Donkey Association, are winners. Their prize donkeys —Stock-Market’s Treasure, a 9-time national champion, and Touché, multiple national champion — have garnered wins in various categories such as showmanship, driving, snigging (dragging a log through a course), hand trail and halter class (correctness for breed standard).
According to Cindy, donkeys and mules are different. A donkey is a purebred, and a mule is hybrid cross between a donkey and a horse, resulting in sterilization due to the breeding.
“(Donkeys) are getting a bad rap. They’re smart. They can be cautious but once you teach them something they’ll never forget it. They’re really, really smart,” Cindy said. She grew up showing horses, and Randy grew up enjoying the outdoors hunting and fishing.
Exhibiting is not a novelty to the Casons. Prior to showing donkeys, the couple showed pygmy goats on a national level. When coyotes threatened, Randy purchased predator donkeys to keep the goats safe. He heard about a donkey and mule show in Shelbyville, Tenn., that they attended with their good friend and partner Charles Kastner.
“I couldn’t imagine how you’d show donkeys. It just came out of nowhere. I’d never heard of it,” Cindy said.
An experienced horse showman, Cindy knew she could also show donkeys, saying,“This is just like showing horses except you don’t ride them, you drive them.”
The Casons bought higher-caliber donkeys than the predator donkeys that they owned. They keep their donkeys on Randy’s family farm where they live and show up to five times annually across the country.
“(Showing donkeys) is just fun. You meet the nicest people in the whole country,” Cindy said. “(Donkeys) will steal your heart.”