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Rosettes and red faces at the RDS Horse Show

'"He's a lovely donkey'' is not a phrase one expects to hear at the vetting gate of the Royal Dublin Society during horse show week. A reply of ''he's an even lovelier mule'' raised a few eyebrows swiftly followed by a raft of mule/hinny related questions from the vets. This seems to set the tone for the rest of the day as myself and the mule maestro Eugene Butler displayed Sanctuary mules Bohea Lad and Kendon on a showery Sunday at the prestigious venue.

Cathy with mule Kendon

Mules parade in front of President of Ireland

The Irish Donkey Society (IDS) will stage a spectacular display of donkeys and donkey farming equipment and carriages at work and at play in Ring 1 of the RDS showgrounds on the final day of the Dublin Horse Show on Sunday 24th July from 3.40pm to 4.10pm this year.

The RDS Horse Show is being held 2 weeks earlier than normal this year because of the Olympics in Rio, Brazil in August. The parade of donkey carriages will be in front of the President of Ireland and his special guests.

Mule Kendon and Eugene Butler in the RDS

Specialized veterinary training

A very successful, well attended North West Veterinary Clinical Society meeting was held recently at one of The Donkey Sanctuary's holding bases in Strabane Co Tyrone. Twenty two vets from practices throughout Co Tyrone, Derry, Donegal and Fermanagh attended the evening which was led by Karen Rickards, Principal Veterinary Surgeon for The Donkey Sanctuary.

Karen leading the training

Mule misconception

What comes to people’s minds when they hear the word mule: stubborn, aggressive or even dangerous? Mules can be perceived as all of these things but it is in fact our perception and how we work with and respect these animals for what they are. When treated with kindness, patience and understanding they learn to trust and obey. If they are treated with force they are most likely not going to obey as they can sense danger. This is where people’s perception of mules as being aggressive comes into play. But it is a defence mechanism for them, to protect themselves.

Robin helping to sweep the yard!

Under the stars

We are always telling people that donkeys are sociable animals which need company. This was certainly the case for a donkey called Planet. He is a fine healthy young donkey who lived in a big field in Co Roscommon. He lived “under the stars” as he had no shed or stable but he coped with that.

Planet at time of rescue

Education is the most powerful tool we can use to change the world

Education is without doubt a key part of the answer to improving the lives of donkeys and mules in Ireland and running donkey care courses in new venues throughout Leinster is something high on the priority list. We have held successful courses in Wexford and Dublin in established guardian homes and at My Lovely Horse welfare organisation in Kildare. Courses have been well attended and the feedback has been positive and encouraging.

Donkey care course

Hoofprints in time

Phoenix (age 5) and Baxten (age 6) are two ordinary donkeys that came to me a year ago from the Donkey Sanctuary. They are two lively young donkeys with an inquisitive attitude to life. At the weekend they went back 100 years in time to 1916. The occasion was the “Country and Rural Life” re-enactment hosted by Teagasc on their farm in Athenry, Co Galway and over 20,000 people were expected. Three months ago both the donkeys and I were totally unprepared for this journey.

Pheonix and Baxten

Laboratory Technician

We have an excellent opportunity for a Laboratory Technician to join our Veterinary team at The Donkey Sanctuary (Ireland) Limited

Possessing previous biological laboratory experience and knowledge of laboratory principles you will assist with the general running of the Pathological Laboratory and research projects and provide in-house services to the clinical/veterinary team. Equine knowledge and good customer service skills are essential.

This is a full-time, fixed term role starting as soon as possible until 20 June 2017, working 39 hours per week, 5 days over 7.

Farm Worker/Groom

An opportunity has arisen for a Farm Worker/Groom to join our team at Hannigans Farm at The Donkey Sanctuary (Ireland) Limited.

You will provide daily routine care for our donkeys, assist the veterinary team and support the Farms Manager in maintaining a clean, safe and secure environment.

This is a full-time, permanent contract, starting as soon as possible.


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