A pair of donkeys we helped to rehome last year are reaping the benefits of a host of enrichment activities laid on by their Donkey Guardians.
Angel and Hope arrived at Sharran Rigby-Smith’s home in East Sussex last July and quickly settled in. The pair are now presented with a new activity or experience every day by Sharran and husband Chris, who loves spending time with them.
Sharran says: “Each day I try to do something a little bit different, although Angel has the brains and works things out very quickly. I have to think on my feet and stay one step ahead!
The couple treat Angel and Hope to a variety of different flavours based on the seasons. In the summer, the pair indulge in refreshing cooled peppermint tea and carrot and peppermint ice lollies. In the winter months, hot mint and ginger tea added to their water bucket help warm their taste buds.
Sharran has also planted a variety of herbs through fencing, all at different heights. Each level gives something new for Angel and Hope to explore, such as mint, parsley, carrot and parsnip tops.
But not everything is so easily placed for these two – they have a whole canvas of natural treats in the shape of forage bunting, packed with carrots, nettles, brambles and hawthorn.
Carefully strewn around their fences, it offers Angel and Hope a fun, stimulating – and rewarding – activity to enjoy.
Sharran adds: “Most days, they get a healthy snack hidden in straw or under plastic plant pots at strategic places in the field for a treasure hunt.
“They also have a couple of footballs, and I tried a swede swing ball! However, it wasn’t popular, so I’ll try with different veg next time.”
Clever Angel has a novel way to combat some tasks. A bob for apples activity took a turn after discovering she could get to the fruit much quicker by knocking the bucket of water over!
Winter proved slightly trickier for Sharran when putting on enrichment activities, but she still delivered for Angel and Hope.
A new zigzag track in the inner paddock helps the donkeys’ adventurous natures, and a sprinkling of cinnamon, turmeric and paprika in the yard helps to stimulate their senses.
While all of the wonderful activities help keep Angel and Hope entertained and enriched, Angel and Hope most love spending time with their Guardian family.
They are also very well behaved when having their feet picked and lap up the fuss during their daily brush.
Sharran adds: “Angel and Hope both love being groomed and Angel almost goes to sleep when being brushed. If Hope isn’t getting as much attention, she will give me a little ‘hurry up’ nudge.
“They also love to ‘help’ such as upending the wheelbarrow full of bark I’ve just collected!
“I love thinking of new things to do with them, and we are starting to take them for short walks around the outside field, although they are more interested in what they can find to eat there than walking.”