The Donkey Academy is our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), offering high-quality education and training resources developed by our professional donkey and mule experts.

Hosted on the Canvas platform, our high-quality portfolio of courses are self-paced and designed to teach you a new skill or enhance your existing skillset.

Registering for The Donkey Academy

Alfie and Benjy, Belfast adoption donkeys enjoying some enrichment activities

Follow these steps to register for one of our courses:

  • Browse the courses below
  • Click 'Register for The Donkey Academy'
  • Fill in your details and click 'Register now'
  • You will be directed to our course catalogue page where you can select your course and enrol on it
  • You will also receive an email confirmation.

If you need any assistance with registering for one of our courses, please contact our Education Team.

Courses open to all

Designed for donkey owners, individuals who work closely with donkeys and those looking to take their first steps in donkey care. These courses do not have any prerequisites for registration and are ideal for developing new or reinforcing pre-existing knowledge.


Donkey Behaviour and Safety (BEHV102)

This course explores the common causes of accidents when interacting with donkeys. The course focuses on increasing the learner's understanding of donkey body language, observation of behavioural thresholds and simple methods of handling donkeys to reduce your risk of injury.

By the end of the Donkey Behaviour and Safety course, you will be equipped to spot the subtle changes in donkey behaviour that could put you at risk. You will be able to provide the donkey with a good experience in a variety of situations. Finally, having explored your own attitude to safety and examined which human behaviours lead to accidents, you will be equipped to keep yourself and those around you safer in future.


  1. Introduction to safety around donkeys and mules
  2. Foundations of safety around donkeys and mules
  3. Safety when working with donkeys
  4. Safely restraining your donkey
  5. Working with groups of donkeys

Care and welfare

Introduction to Donkey Care, Health and Welfare: Part 1 (CWEL101)

This course is ideal for anyone looking to get their first donkey or for more established owners/carers interested in refreshing or improving their knowledge.

It is also mandatory for anyone who wishes to be a Donkey Guardian through The Donkey Sanctuary’s rehoming scheme.

The course is structured to build up fundamental knowledge, skills and understanding when caring for donkeys. The common thread throughout this course is the donkey’s origins and evolution and how this influences their care and management.


  1. The History of the Donkey and their Specialist Care 
  2. Donkey Handling and Health and Safety 
  3. Donkey Behaviour 
  4. Stable Management 
  5. Paddock Management 
  6. Handling and Grooming the Donkey 
  7. Feeding your Donkey 
  8. Body Condition Scoring 
  9. Donkey Good and Poor Health 
  10. Hoof Care 
  11. Introduction to Dentistry 
  12. Routine Treatments 
  13. Donkey Care Calendar 
  14. Different Uses and Transportation 
  15. Course Summary 


Accessing Harness (HRNS101)

This is a two-part course that serves as the gateway to the harness related courses available from The Donkey Sanctuary.

We believe that many of our harness courses will be used to support existing groups to train their staff or local donkey owners and users. The 'Accessing Harness' course is designed to assist you in doing this and does not contain any harness information as such.


1. Setting up a course (optional)

You are invited to consider some basic aspects of setting up a course, why you are running the course, who you will train, how long the course will take, what you hope to achieve, and how you will measure how successful the course is attaining your original goals.

2. Health and safety

This part of the course is compulsory, with a short test at the end that you must pass to access the following harness courses. This part of the course leads you through risk assessments, accident and emergency reaction planning, and keeping yourself, your students, animals, and anyone else in the vicinity of your course as safe as possible in a practical and realistic way.

Harness and Working Equids (WRKE102)

This course focuses on the different parts, functions and adjustments of harness, followed by specific aspects related to working with working equids. A harness is a common aspect of all working equids, regardless of the task performed, and its correct or incorrect use directly impacts their health and welfare.

At the end of this course, we hope that you'll be able to increase your knowledge and have a much better understanding of harness, regardless of whether you are a user or someone who works in the welfare sector, and will be advising other users about harness.


  1. Introduction
  2. Different parts, functions and adjustments of a harness
  3. Incorrect use of harness
  4. Practical aspects of the use of harness
  5. Use of donkeys for agroforestry activities I
  6. Use of donkeys for agroforestry activities II
  7. Working with two donkeys


Introduction to Nutrition (NTRN101)

This introductory course aims to provide information on the basics that underpin donkey nutrition. The course is ideal for anyone looking to get their first donkey or for more established owners/carers interested in refreshing or improving their knowledge of donkey nutrition.

The course comprises six modules, and features pre-recorded content, additional reading material, and quizzes. By the end of the course, we hope you'll know how to make informed choices about the types of forages and feeds that can be fed to help fulfil a donkey's nutritional and behavioural requirements while reducing the risk of health problems.


  1. Origins of the donkey
  2. Digestive anatomy
  3. Nutritional requirements
  4. Practical feeding
  5. Monitoring diet

Health & Welfare Assessment tools

Ageing Donkeys (HWAT106)

Being able to age equids within a narrow range can be useful for owners and professionals alike when accurate records are unavailable. This short course focuses on ageing donkeys by dentition, covering the ageing process of an equid from a newborn up to a geriatric animal.

The course aims to establish a scientific, evidence-based approach to ageing by dentition. Participants will develop an in-depth knowledge of underpinning theories of ageing and dental wear. You will also have access to further reading and resources, alongside opportunities to test your newly acquired knowledge using ungraded quizzes.


  • Basic anatomy
  • How to safely open the mouth to check the incisors
  • Ageing donkeys step by step

Courses for professionals

Designed for individuals whose profession sees them working closely with donkeys and other equids. These courses have educational or vocational prerequisites and are designed to build on a pre-existing skillset.


The Clinical Examination (CLNC101)

This course is recommended for veterinary surgeons and veterinary students who occasionally see donkeys and wish to be more confident in their knowledge and approach to this species. As the first course in the series on Veterinary Care of the Donkey, we recommend completing this course before moving on to further courses. It provides a detailed introduction to the basics of understanding the normal donkey examination.

This course aims to cover the fundamental differences in the physiological and clinical parameters of a donkey compared to a horse. The basics of handling, examining the body systems, blood sampling, dental and lameness examination are covered. At the end of this course, students will have the skills to perform a detailed clinical examination and recognise normal versus abnormal in the donkey.


  1. Clinical Exam
  2. Correct Approach to Examination of the Donkey
  3. Taking and Interpreting a Blood and Faecal Sample
  4. Dental Examination
  5. The Basic Lameness Exam
  6. References


Introduction to Equid Dentistry (DENT101)

This preliminary course is designed to be an introductory foundation for equid dentistry.

The course aims to establish a scientific, evidence-based approach to equid dentistry. Participants will develop an in-depth knowledge of underpinning theories of equid dentistry and thereby aid the promotion of practical skills for the prevention and treatment of dental disorders in equids.

This course also encompasses non-specific skills such as evidence-based practice, clinical reasoning, literature review, communication and reflection.


  • A good standard of English language
  • ‘A’ Level biological science or vocational equivalent.


  1. Nomenclature and terminology
  2. Anatomy
  3. Ageing
  4. Handling
  5. Health, Safety and Biosecurity


Hoof Trimming and Farriery (FRRY102)

This course will provide you with valuable information for trimming donkey feet and applying orthopaedic treatments to donkey feet through sharing the different techniques used by The Donkey Sanctuary farriers and veterinary surgeons.

By the end of the Hoof Trimming and Farriery course, you will be able to assess a donkey foot and describe if it is a healthy hoof or there is any chronic or acute disease/abnormality. In addition, you will be able to determine if a donkey hoof has been trimmed appropriately and choose the trimming and farriery techniques needed when a disease donkey foot is presented to you.


  1. Foot trimming instruments
  2. Trimming the normal foot
  3. Trimming the overgrown foot
  4. Hoof wall resection for white line disease
  5. Corrective trimming
  6. Shoeing

Working Equids

Curso de formación en bienestar y medicina preventiva de équidos de trabajo / Training course on welfare and preventive medicine of working equids (WRKE104)


  • Español

Este curso es una iniciativa conjunta entre The Donkey Sanctuary y Equiitarian Initiative, una ONG estadounidense enfocada en la salud de équidos de trabajo, con proyectos en varios países de las Americas, y fue desarrollado principalmente para oferecer formación a estudiantes de veterinaria de la Universidad Nacional de San Antonio Abad del Cusco(UNSAAC) en Perú, como respuesta inmediata al Covid 19 y la imposibilidad de viajar y capacitar a los estudiantes in situ, como se planeó originalmente como parte del programa educativo conjunto desarrollado para Perú.

Este es un curso de formación de aprox. 50 horas, abarcando en 10 módulos diferentes todos aquellos aspectos clave que son relevantes para la salud y el bienestar de los équidos de trabajo. En este curso de formación participan 11 formadores de seis países.


  1. Introducción
  2. Bienestar y conducta de équidos
  3. Examen fisico de équidos de trabajo
  4. Arneses: que son y como se ajustan
  5. Razones para una mala condición en équidos de trabajo
  6. Odontología
  7. Podología/herraje y cuidado de cascos
  8. Cojeras en équidos de trabajo
  9. Cirugía y anestesia de campo
  10. Vacunación


  • Spanish

This Spanish language course is a partnership between The Donkey Sanctuary and the Equitarian Initiative, a USA based non-profit corporation focused on working equid health, with projects in several American countries. The course was primarily developed to deliver training to veterinary students at the National University of Saint Anthony the Abad in Cuzco (UNSAAC) in Peru as an immediate response to Covid 19 and the impossibility of travelling and training students face-to-face.

This training course takes approximately 50 hours, covering 10 different modules related to key aspects of working equid health and welfare. 11 trainers from six countries are involved in this training course.


  1. Introduction
  2. Equid welfare and behaviour
  3. Physical examination of working equids
  4. Harnesses: what they are and how they fit
  5. Reasons for poor condition in working equids
  6. Dentistry
  7. Podiatry and hoof care
  8. Lameness in working equids
  9. Surgery and field anaesthesia
  10. Vaccinations

Interested in one of our courses?