Meet the Snelsons: Donkey Guardians since 2014
For Cobi and Mark Snelson, becoming Donkey Guardians took years of planning. “I’ve wanted to keep donkeys since I was a little girl and used to visit The Donkey Sanctuary,” says Cobi. “Luckily my husband Mark loves donkeys as much as I do.
“When we found out about the Rehoming Scheme, we set about moving to a house in the countryside with enough land to accommodate donkeys. Then we had to save up to get the required fencing, hard standing and stable installed.”
Neither Cobi nor Mark had any equine experience, but they knew that the Rehoming Scheme would provide all the education, training and support they would ever need.
The couple will never forget watching The Donkey Sanctuary’s lorry coming up their driveway to deliver its precious cargo.
“The donkeys were so gorgeous,” says Cobi. “It was a dream come true having them home with us at long last.”
Mark adds, “I’ve got a video of us leading them around the garden that first day and it’s my favourite film to watch – it’s a bit of history.
The Snelsons love to take sweet-natured Cudos and diminutive Precious for country walks. People stop their cars and come out of their houses to pet the donkeys.
It’s good for the donkeys, too. As well as the attention, they enjoy the variation in their diet provided by country hedgerows, and walking on tarmac is good for their hooves.
“The donkey people”, as the Snelsons are known in their village, are often asked to bring Cudos and Precious to local events, including the Palm Sunday procession, the pub’s summer event and big events at the Women’s Institute.
Mark and Cobi adore Cudos and Precious and haven’t looked back since becoming Donkey Guardians. “Our donkeys love human interaction and are so affectionate - they always come straight to us when we go into the paddock, and love a cuddle. They’re really relaxing to spend time with and they make us laugh.”
Both Cobi and Mark wholeheartedly recommend becoming Donkey Guardians. “We haven’t looked back since our donkeys arrived - we absolutely adore them. They’ve enhanced our lives, and make us so happy.”
“But you have to be committed,” adds Cobi. “You can’t just put donkeys in a field and use them as lawnmowers. They need love, care and attention.”
There are financial considerations, too. “You need to spend some money to do this properly,” says Mark. “It took us quite a while to get everything ready and make sure that we could offer them a really good home and everything they needed.”
Mark and Cobi attended a donkey-care training course before their donkeys arrived, to learn the basics, followed by several other courses since then, all free of charge.
When Precious developed some behavioural issues, The Donkey Sanctuary despatched grooms and a donkey behaviour specialist to help out. “It’s been really good to overcome the challenges and has made us bond even more closely with our donkeys,” says Mark.
All Donkey Guardians have ongoing access to a Donkey Welfare Adviser. “Justine, is always on hand,” says Cobi. “She visits whenever we need practical advice and support. She’s amazing and she really loves the donkeys.”
“The support has been beyond anything we expected,” confirms Mark.