Donkey basketball at Wallowa the evening of Wednesday, March 11, provided a truly fun event and fundraiser for the junior-senior trip, in which boys and girls teams participated aboard tame, docile, donkeys supplied and bred by Donkey Sports, Inc. of Entiat, Wash.

These donkeys are basketball pros, and tour Oregon, Washington and Idaho doing fundraisers. They don’t quite wear Nikes or Converse, but instead “wear” soft rubber boot heels instead of conventional shoes or Easy Boots, according to their “manager and coach” Jeff Pittsinger of Donkey Sports, Inc.

After the game they were supposed to go to Halfway, but are, instead headed to Idaho because Halfway canceled its game as part of COVID-19 prevention.

Rules require, among other things, that to retrieve a loose ball, you have to get off your donkey, and lead the donkey while you get the ball.

They also require that the donkeys just walk, which they are happy to do. These donkeys were ridden with respect by the kids, most of whom know horses well, and handled their mounts accordingly. No jerking around, no galloping. Just once, Kyla Hook’s donkey broke into a trot for a few strides, but either was reined in or stopped being ambitious. That was as fast as things got. Otherwise, the donkey-pace circling the gym was contemplative and mesmerizingly slow — which added to the fun.

Rules also required that if the ball was loose, riders had to lead their donkeys while retrieving it. And, of course, the donkeys were reluctant to be led in any sort of hurry. Lute Ramsden, who finally got to play basketball, solved the problem by dismounting under the basket and collecting rebounds before the ball rolled into a distant corner. His donkey, Billy, seemed happy with this arrangement.

Although the scoreboard kept track of baskets, no-one seemed to really care which of the informal teams won. And it was nice to see players smiling and thoroughly enjoying the evening and the game.

Do NOT miss Donkey Basketball next year!

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