Seriously, I really do want a donkey. To me, they are one of the homesteader's dream animals along with goats and chickens. When many people think of alternate ways of doing things, whether because they are convinced the country's infrastructure is going to fall, leaving them in the dark ages, or because they truly want to get back to the land, they think of horses. I think of donkeys and mules.
If you've ever seen me standing next to a typical donkey, you might laugh again.
Yes, my legs are far longer than many donkeys'. In fact, my arms are often longer than a donkey's legs and that is humorous. Picturing me riding a donkey could bring you to giggles, I'm sure. BUT, donkeys are an amazing animal, riding them left to the side for now.
A donkey is a very hardy creature. Far more hardy than any horse I've met, including the northern ponies. They are comfy in almost any climate, bed down wherever they can, eat willingly and with little pickiness and are often smart to the point of wiliness. Many of the truly scary ills that even the most cared for horse gets I've never heard of in a donkey, such as a lethal case of gas (colic).
They live for a very long time and their care is super easy. They also can carry
burdens far and away greater than you think and it doesn't even bother them enough to stop them trotting off for something tasty to nibble. They can pull carts and wagons and odd shaped conveyances with ease. And, they'll carry people, albeit comically.
Personally, I like riding a donkey. I do it to the side like I've seen often in South America but I don't really see the need to do it save to keep them used to it on any regular basis. Where their true value to me is in their ability to haul and carry. Odd shaped loads of firewood, big bundles of assorted stuff, produce baskets and even a cart filled to the brim with dirt are all viable options. And because they are small, they can get closer to the garden, woodpile or on a smaller trail in the woods. They don't squish up the ground as bad either.
So what about their stubbornness? Oh yes, they do have that, but like any animal, that is far more often the fault of the human than the animal and I personally, haven't yet met one that didn't do what was wanted when handled properly. They have personality and spunk. It needs to get to know you and you need to get to know it. Most of the time, you'll probably wind up really digging each other.