Donkeys & Pony
There are two donkeys at the Farm, called Alice and Hermione. They are ‘jennies’ or female donkeys. Donkeys are related to horses, but are smaller and stronger for their size. They have a distinctive black cross over their backs, and have large ears – watch their ears move around as they listen in different directions. Originally in the wild, donkeys lived spread out over large semi-desert areas, so their large ears and loud bray helped them to hear and be heard!
Donkeys eat straw and grass, but can put on weight easily, causing health problems. That’s why we ask visitors not to feed our donkeys, and similarly, the pony.
Miniature Shetland Pony
Our small dark pony is Kiera, a Miniature Shetland Pony. A pony is basically a small breed of horse, but very strong in relation to its size. Shetland ponies are incredibly hardy, being native to the cold harsh environment of Scotland’s Shetland Isles.
Donkey and Shetland Pony Personalities
Donkeys have a reputation for being stubborn, but this is because they are intelligent animals who like to look out for themselves and won’t be blindly led! Shetland ponies need to be handled well to bring out their gentle and good-tempered side, otherwise they can easily become irritable and uncooperative.
Uses of Donkeys and Shetland Ponies
Because donkeys are so strong, and a compact size for humans to handle, they are an ideal working animal, especially for pulling carts and carrying goods on their backs. Likewise, because of their strength and hardiness, Shetland Ponies have been used as working and pack animals, and also worked in coal mines as ‘pit ponies’.
Our donkeys and pony don’t have to carry goods on their backs but they do offer visiting children donkey rides on weekends from time-to-time! Kiera our pony is small enough to travel to local schools to meet students as part of our Mobile Farm project and the donkeys are particularly in demand around Christmas time for Nativities.