November 13, 2022 by HoofPrints owner Gina Keesling

I'm so excited about this new card; it has a great story behind it

Most of you already know that all donkeys wear a cross across their back

Donkeys appear many times in the Bible, most notably carrying Mary to Bethlehem, in attendance at Christ’s birth in the stable, and at the crucifixion, where it is said that the shadow of the cross became permanent on the grieving donkey’s shoulders as he turned away from the tragic scene.

The original donkey card (that's below) has been a best-seller for quite a while. I felt I needed to update the artwork so folks could continue to share the verse, and not be sending the same card each year. I searched far and wide for a nice photo of a donkey with the cross visible to illustrate a new version. Millions of images later = nothing. Anything I found that was posed as I envisioned, had leafy trees and green grass in the background; decidedly NOT Christmas-y.

Then came social media to the rescue. I admire and follow numerous artists and photographers on Facebook and Instagram. Dorota Kudyba is a combination of both. In her work, she takes photographs and makes them into paintings digitally. And it's not just as simple as applying a filter and "presto!" a cell phone pic now has moody light and brush strokes texture. Dorota's digital works bring forth a painterly aspect that no fancy filter can come close to replicating. For years, I've watched her take bad photos taken at awkward angles with junky backgrounds, and make them into gallery-worthy art. I sent her the best donkey picture I'd found so far, and asked her to work her magic...

...and work magic she did. On multiple levels that I never imagined.

The donkey in my original picture was grossly, I mean grossly overweight. No one even remotely connected with managing equines would have noticed anything but that, had I put it on a card unedited. This poor fellow had fat rolls on top of his fat rolls, and you could practically feel the heat emanating from his laminitic hooves.

I sent it to Dorota, asking that she slim him down some, and change up the background to something a bit wintry. And oh, by the way, make the format tall and skinny. And leave room for me to add the verse. I'd not seen her do this type of formatting on any of her other paintings, so I had no idea what I was going to get back...

A couple weeks later when it showed up in my inbox, I gasped. Not only did she do, perfectly and exactly, what I wanted but was unable to envision... she added a Cardinal on the donkey's back.

Cardinals are said to be Heaven’s messengers

The bright red birds are considered to be a sign that someone no longer on Earth is sending love and encouragement. These birds are quite common in the eastern half of the United States. They are not present at all in Poland, which is where Dorota lives. Furthering the irony, the Cardinal is Indiana's state bird. And the mascot of Ball State University, where I studied graphic design.

At any rate, that surprise spot of bright red pushed this scene from a wintry one to that of Christmas, and the spiritual element of the bird's meaning adds even more depth to this poignant card.

Words came easily to me when I sat down to write the explanatory copy for the back, which includes The Legend of the Donkey's Cross, mention of Cardinals' role as Heaven's messengers, a bit about Dorota, and credit to the verse's author Rita S. Beer.

When I went looking for a stock photo of a Cardinal, and first one presented was perfect. (Anyone who has ever searched for stock photos knows that this never, ever happens.) Not only was the bird perfect, but the background was, too, and there was enough of it to fill the space that I needed on that tall, skinny format. The Graphic Design Gods definitely blessed the layout on this one.

The entire Donkey Card project has had Divine assistance, starting with Rita granting HoofPrints permission to use the poem - even before that - when Rita's employer went out of business, they transferred the copyright of the verse she wrote (under employment by them) to her. Then me finding the perfect artist to edit a problematic photo, augmenting it with creativity that I couldn't even imagine. I feel certain that the recipients of these cards will be as enchanted when they see it, as I have been, watching it come to life.

Click to order the new Donkey Card

The original Just A Little Donkey is one of HoofPrints all time best selling cards. Folks never tire of it, and I think the reason has something to do with these words:

"I gladly carried Mary through the chaos of the crowd."

Only someone who's worked with equines would know to note how significant it is that the donkey carried a tired and very pregnant Mary safely through what must have been a very scary situation.

This is the third iteration of this card, the first two were created by a Christian card company. They discontinued their card line and graciously transferred copyright for the verse back to it's author. And then gave me her contact info so I could arrange for rights to reprint her lovely prose.

This card is my own design, using Carien Schippers' photo.

HoofPrints donkey and mule loving customers are a passionate bunch, brisk sales on this card validate that - so I added a whole department of products just for you folks! That's here

Printed versions of both donkey cards do not have © on them. To order the donkey card click here

Shop all Christmas cards

We've got 20+ unique products that celebrate mules and donkeys, over half are exclusive to HoofPrints and not available from any other source


Donkeys are the guest of honor on many HoofPrints popular products - these were so popular that we ran out - and were out for months.

Every year I'm surprised at the enthusiasm customers have for the donkey products, often they're received with more passion than the horsey items that I've found or created. At the top of the list last fall was this cute donkey pair. The first three shipments sold out almost immediately. Then, I couldn't get any more. It was painful to have to contact a bunch of customers and give them bad news about Christmas gifts that they'd carefully chosen. But most stubbornly persisted, saying they'd wait until the product came in. And wait we did. Months after the promised delivery date, the donkey pair mugs have finally arrived. Whew.

This 13 oz ceramic mug is colorfully printed inside and out with a charming (albeit mischievous-looking and probably stubborn) donkey pair. It comes gift boxed; the box is so nice it merits saving, would make a great recipe box. The matching tote is perfect for carrying your lunch, or even as a gift bag. Sold separately, or as a set.

Click to order Donkey Pair Set
Matching Woven Dish Towel is super-absorbent. 100% cotton is crisp and lint-free - perfect for drying glasses.
Click to order Donkey Pair Dish Towels
One of our best-selling books stars Edgar Rice Burro - BARN DANCE
What can a parrot teach you about horses? Have you ever thought your pickup truck was the perfect purse? Does a donkey exist with more scruples than Edgar Rice Burro? How did a Welsh Corgi get the name of Preacher Man? What should you do when the Grandfather Horse steals your goat? And when a neglected horse comes to the farm for fostering, who is it that really gets rescued?
You'll find answers to the above questions (and much more) in Anna Blake's Barn Dance, a collection of essays on horse-play, donkey ethics, and the fine art of mucking, from a small Colorado horse farm. Blake weaves her love of animals into tales you'll want to read again and again. She has gained life lessons from seasons of caring for and learning from her diverse assortment of animals. Blake's humor, compassion, and kindness shine through every page.

"This collection of musings and essays includes the nine species that live on my farm: A small herd of horses, led by the Grandfather Horse, ancient and failing, and Bhim, a rescue mini who is both untrainable and indispensable. Add to that a family of horse-loving llamas, and goats who are the fool-proof cure for a Type A personality. There are two Welsh Corgis who sing the songs of their people so ho-woo-ling-ly loud that they both ended up in the "Corgi Witness Protection Program" before landing here. Then there's the human, bewildered at being sixty; the most awkward age imaginable. And finally, Edgar Rice Burro, long-ear sage, eternal friend, and nothing less than our farm's moral compass." ~Anna Blake
Click to order BARN DANCE
Gina Keesling started HoofPrints in 1986 to provide helpful promotional materials for farrier husband Rob. Along the way she added a fun selection of horse and dog products geared toward women of a certain age. This newsletter is emailed to subscribers a few times a month. Watch for sales, stories and more.
LinkedIn Share This Email
I have awesome customer service reps available 24/7 to take your order or answer questions at 765-724-7004, or email