We catch up with some of the smaller donkeys at Slade House Farm in Sidmouth and hear how a pair of minis have settled into their new life at the sanctuary.
Miniature donkeys Henry and Lucy joined our herd at the Sidmouth sanctuary several months ago. After keeping their distance from the main group for the first week or so, the pair soon settled in.
Nine-year-old Henry is a gelding with a big personality, he is very friendly and is always the first to come over for cuddles, he loves nothing more than a good scratch! His favourite party trick is to use his head to empty all of the straw out of the feeder onto his back, then run round the yard trying to get it off as it tickles him! He always keeps the grooms busy as they sweep up after him.
Lucy is an 11-year-old mare and closely bonded to Henry. She is very quiet, likes to have calm cuddles, and often enjoys a peaceful snooze in the corner of the barn. Lucy does have some medical issues, so is closely monitored and receives lots of care.
The pair have also been taught a few tricks by the other donkeys in their group, including knocking over the grooms’ wheelbarrows, and pushing their way under the fence into the winter grazing field, leading to grooms having to double the fence.
Minis, or more accurately, Miniature Mediterranean donkeys are popular with our grooms and visitors alike. One particular requirement of this breed is that they must reach no more than 91 cm at the withers (the ridge between the shoulder blades, the tallest point of the body).
Originally hailing from the islands of Sardinia and Sicily, Mediterranean Miniature donkeys were traditionally used to turn grind stones for grain inside peasants’ houses. According to Eighteenth Century block pictures, the donkeys were blindfolded and attached to the grain mills, where they walked in repeated circles. They were also used to carry water from village wells and supplies into the mountains for shepherds.