Hi, my name is Jasmine. I’ve been studying an Equine Studies degree at Sparsholt Agricultural College in Hampshire for the past two years and as part of my course was asked to complete a work experience placement. The Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth very kindly said they’d put up with me for my two weeks, and what fun I have had!
Today I was allowed to have a photo shoot with some of the adorable donkeys down at the Visitors' Centre. I was also given an in depth tour around the grounds by one of the grooms, who helped me with taking photos of the donkeys. I was taken to the Events and Activities donkeys, these are the ones who attend schools for children to learn about them; have schools visit them and they even get to visit elderly residents who are housebound and brighten up their day! I was told that these donkeys even enjoy a late night shopping trip in Sidmouth around Christmas time!
Barney, (pictured above), was my model for our photo-shoot, and with the beautiful sun finally making an appearance he made a brilliant partner! Barney is a 13 year old donkey who has been part of the Events and Activities group for the past 5 years because of his kind personality. His best friend, who he is often seen playing around with in the fields, is called Shirgar, a 33 year old! Barney is one of the main donkeys used to go out on visits as he is very people orientated and reliable around young children and the elderly. However, as proven by his wonderings on the shoot, he is not the most patient of donkeys and can get a little distracted! He is often found on experience days hiding at the back of the group so that he doesn’t have to do any work, cheeky donkey!
It has been amazing being given the chance to work with these remarkable animals. Not only because donkey cuddles have got to be the best thing since sliced bread, but because the people who work and devote their time to these animals are so kind that you always come away with a heart-warming feeling.
As part of the first year of my degree I participated in a work experience placement at an equine stud farm which, because it is business orientated, is run completely differently. When I first arrived at the Sanctuary a couple of weeks ago I was worried that this would be run in around the same manner, but boy was I wrong!
The donkeys, mules, hinnies and ponies who stay at the Sanctuary receive the upmost care, devotion and attention from not only the workers and volunteers but the visitors as well. No one here goes cold or hungry, no one has pain left unattended and no one goes a day without a cuddle!
I was also able to learn about the work The Donkey Sanctuary does overseas. They now have sanctuaries in Cyprus, Italy and Spain to offer donkeys in Europe the same level of care they offer here in the UK.
They have been busy!