When we first found Skip, he was so thin all the bones of his skeleton could be felt through his thick, wet winter coat. He was weak, dull and reluctant to eat. He and a number of other donkeys lived in an allotment sized paddock which had become so poached there was nothing but mud under hoof. The living environment was littered with hazards and rubbish. The only food available was old, rotting and unappetising.
Can you imagine carrying out your normal morning routines going to the donkey stable to find the gate open and no donkeys in sight? Complete panic.
Thoughts running through your head at a 100 miles an hour about where they could be.
When a gate has been left open accidentally then there is a guarantee curious donkeys will find it.
When I first started in my role as manager of the Sidmouth Donkey Assisted Therapy Centre, there were two donkeys who had originally come from a big group in the New Forest and had only been living with the therapy team for a short while, having been specially selected from one of the Donkey Sanctuary farms due to their particularly friendly and sociable natures.
This meant that their potential had been spotted very early on as they had some of the ideal attributes that we look for when choosing donkeys to put forward for a role involving a great deal of human contact.