A journey of discovery - the role of the donkey in facilitated learning programmes

Jenna Goldby
Caron Whaley
Presentation date

The Donkey Sanctuary has been providing Donkey Assisted Therapy in locations across the UK since the mid 1970s. The Donkey Assisted Therapy programme aims to improve the lives of both the donkeys we provide sanctuary for, as well as children and adults who visit our centres for support, learning, fun and therapy.

Recently we have started to advance the way in which our centres run, to ensure that we can offer our services to a diverse array of users whilst maintaining the highest possible welfare standards for our donkeys. The change in working practices has seen us decreasing the amount of Therapeutic Riding Programmes offered, and increase Donkey Facilitated Learning (DFL) sessions. Thus opening up our service to a wider range of ages and abilities.

Since starting this journey of change we have found a positive impact on the progression of service users, the development of new user groups, and the welfare of the donkeys involved in the programme. Service users work through a programme of life skills learning which facilitates the development of psychosocial skills. Using Qualitative Behavioural Assessments donkeys have shown an increase in relaxed behaviours, and a decrease in anxious body language since the change in services offered.

Not published as conference proceedings