D is for Donkey

The modern domestic donkey was bred from the wild African ass in north-eastern Africa during the predynastic period of Egypt, about 6,000 years ago. Donkeys are desert-adapted pack animals and were bread to carry heavy loads through arid lands in their herds, mainly used for the transportation of food and trade goods throughout Africa and Asia. Well-documented records show that donkeys were valued as trusted domestic animals within Egyptian civilization. Skeletons have even been found buried in special tombs within the cemeteries of several predynastic sites, the bones dating back 3000 years.

Now there are more than 40 million donkeys throughout the world, most still remain in underdeveloped countries and are associated with the very poor, used mainly as draught or pack animals in transport or agriculture. Few receive adequate food, and in general donkeys throughout the Third World are under-nourished and over-worked. Here at Equestrian Escapes we recognise this problem and as such choose to support The Brooke. The Brooke is an international animal welfare organisation dedicated to improving the lives of working horses, donkeys and mules. They work through mobile veterinary teams and locally trained community animal health workers ensuring that emergency treatment is always on hand to help horses and donkeys, therefore benefiting their owners and families by improving and extending the life of their animal. Each customer who books a horse riding holiday through Equestrian Escapes is asked to donate one pound. Each pound that we are donated we match and send to The Brook at the end of each year. This is our way of helping them reach their goal which is to increase the number of working animals they help to two million a year by 2016.

“Eeyore” - The loud call or bray of the donkey typically lasts for twenty seconds and can be heard for over three kilometres. This call is used to keep in contact with other donkeys over the wide spaces of the desert where they traditionally live. A male donkey or ass is called a jack, a female a jenny and a young donkey is a foal. Donkeys have certain well recognised characteristics including their large ears which help to pick up more distant sounds and cool the donkey's blood. Donkeys can defend themselves by biting, striking with the front hooves or kicking with the hind legs.

In the more developed countries donkeys are used to sire mules, to guard sheep, they are used to take beach rides for children and tourists, and as pets. Donkeys may also be stabled with horses and ponies and are thought to have a calming effect on a nervous horse. You may notice donkeys living in small paddocks, fields and even gardens. The donkey has a very tough digestive system and can therefore live happily on a small area of land often eating lesser quality roughage to which you would choose to feed a horse or pony. A donkey will make the perfect pet or companion for horses, ponies, sheep and goats. A tame donkey will be personable and friendly; he will call you if you are late for feeding and will often call to you when you are not giving him enough attention.

In the words of our favourite donkey Eeyore, “A little Consideration, a little Thought for Others, makes all the difference. Or so they say.”

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