Newsletter Autumn 2010

Early in June we were invited by RTE ONE to present an interview for national radio and television news coverage to highlight the equine crisis in Ireland and explain the plight of the vast numbers of horses, ponies and donkeys suffering through neglect and abandonment as a result of overbreeding and lack of traceability, all exacerbated by the financial recession. We were joined by Kevin McGinley, ISPCA Inspector, who expressed some of the main concerns of the ISPCA and told a harrowing story of a recent pony abandonment. The interview was broadcast on Bank Holiday Monday, 7th June, on the radio and on both the 6pm and 9pm television news.

The resulting impact was huge and we extend considerable thanks to Bernadette O’Sullivan who set the ball rolling and to her Sligo colleague Eileen Magna who organised the interviews and highlighted our need for funds to buy extra land for the use of the Sanctuary animals.

For the rest of the summer our feet never touched the ground with continuous phone calls and visitors to the Sanctuary; most of it with very positive results. Many supported our appeal for funds to buy extra land adjacent to the Sanctuary by donating, sometimes considerable sums of money, and by running their own fundraising events (enormous thank you's are in order!) and we are absolutely delighted to report that we expect negotiations to purchase this further 16 acres will soon be under way.

A portion of the new land seen from the approach to the Sanctuary



Talking of fundraising, two of our most dedicated fund raisers, Diane Keevans and Steve Furlong, are interested in hearing from local people who may be interested in setting up a Fundraising Group for the Sanctuary. Their telephone numbers can be obtained from Sue. Projects may range from church gate collections to selling greetings cards and ideas are welcome; one of which features below:


We are now able to offer for sale at €12 each (by order only) winter hats in forest green, black and red (other colours may be available on request) and cord caps in soft green, both bearing an embroidered donkey logo with the Sathya Sai Sanctuary name. These make practical as well as attractive gifts; with all the profit going straight to help the donkeys and other equines.

Please contact Diane, Steve, or the Sanctuary direct.



There have been a number of new arrivals.


MS HECTOR MINNIE MO, a miniature Shetland and her donkey friend, BARTLY, came to us when their owner had problems with someone in the neighbourhood who consistently and deliberately broke down the fences and released the animals onto the main road. Although these two had been together for four years they quickly separated to join their own kind. Bartley befriended Puzzle in the younger donkey group and Minnie Mo chose the small pony group where she quickly learned that small though she might be she can still rule the group with an iron hoof!



A few days later we accepted ASLAN, a dark brown yearling stallion donkey, into the expanding herd where it is hoped he will eventually team up with the other youngsters and find a special friend.

So far he prefers the company of the big mares and, naturally enough, the other three geldings of his own age.



ALASKA was relinquished to us because his owners realised they were unable to ‘do the best by him’ and he has now settled into a new home in Cardonagh, Co. Donegal.

Alaska is a rare donkey in that he believes he is a horse: given the choice he always gravitated to the ponies or the horses, disdaining other donkeys, so we hope he finds his niche as companion to an elderly horse mare who recently lost her lifelong donkey companion.

It is an experienced home with wonderful facilities so maybe he can come to live in the manner to which he would like to become accustomed!




Two stallion donkeys were re-homed almost immediately: one from Micky Den near Malin Head found a wonderful new home in Co. Louth and a second, whom we named Cadbury, but who later became DEMPSEY stayed with us for a few weeks in case an owner was found (he was discovered wandering on the road locally) before joining Reilly (see Autumn 2009 newsletter), Murphy, another stallion donkey and Epona, a yearling gelding pony, near Milltown in Co Galway where he has settled beautifully.



MISTY a 14.1hh grey horse mare joined our other horses for the summer as her owner was short of grazing.

Originally Misty was defensive and aggressive but soon learned that while she was pulling faces and kicking, all the others were eating her titbits.

She quickly learned that good behaviour was rewarded and she has turned into a delightful girl. She was placed in a foster home during August.



Mid July we had the privilege of looking after a stunning pony mare DOLLY and her foal BOB for 6 weeks. The colt foal had been born with a front leg bent out at the knee due to the way he had been lying in the womb.

His owners arranged for him to have an operation to pin the leg into position, but then he had too be kept quiet and restricted for at least 5 weeks, not an easy call for a bored, frustrated mare and an ebullient, playful foal! Fortunately our big lean-to shed provided the ideal space and later led to expansion by increments into the sandpit and later into a small field. Happily Bob’s story is one of success.



Another happy foaling story is that of SERENA (Spring newsletter 2010) who travelled with her friend BUDDY BOY to the IHWT in Arklow, one very hot day in June. Serena was close to foaling and as she had had a malformed foal the previous year we were anxious she should have the best of facilities and after care. A week later she birthed a fine healthy colt foal, except that his hind legs needed to be splinted for the first week as they were too weak to take his weight at first. Serena is delighted with her baby and has settled into the maternity section with the other mares and foals. Buddy Boy joined a group of youngsters his own age and was later accepted at Redwings Horse Sanctuary in Norfolk, UK where he is available for fostering.



A less happy story concerns the eight donkeys from near Dromore West, which were brought in last winter through the ISPCA and our County Vet, all in a state of severe malnutrition.


Two of the mares were heavily pregnant and travelled straight to the ISPCA where they subsequently birthed stillborn foals.With this in mind we continued to feed up our pregnant mare from the group, hoping against hope that she would be the exception but sadly she also gave birth to a dead foal early in July.


It is highly probable that all three births failed due to faulty placentas, damaged by lack of sufficient nutrition during their critical formative period. Happily, Harriet immediately rebonded with her last year’s foal, Hari, to his intense delight and surprise as she had been kicking him away for several weeks previously, as Mother Nature prepared them both for the introduction of the next generation. Hari thought all his Christmasses had come at once as Harriet loved and fussed over him while she worked through her ‘new baby hormones’. Happily, they are both fine and none the worse for their experiences.


The lads hard at work

For two weeks in July we enjoyed the company of JoAnn, Bob and Chris from Washington DC who gave generously of their time on a working holiday.

While Bob played apprentice to his aspiring stone-mason son Chris in the laborious task of digging out and pointing up the old stone wall of the field shelter in the small bottom field, JoAnn groomed, poop-scooped and helped generally, disappearing occasionally to sketch a beautiful picture of individual donkeys.

The finished wall



Bob and Chris also did their share of cleaning the field and were invaluable when it came to pitting their respective brawn against a very large and very full stable barrow containing the proceeds of our work! They were as good as a tractor any day.


Our delicate lichen heart


Talking of stones, we wonder how many visitors have noticed the amazing lichen heart that has grown in the wall beside our back entrance gate.

Isn’t it just wonderful? Obviously, this act of Nature is very delicate and vulnerable so please – don’t touch it!



We also thank Henry and Anka of Germany who holidayed with us in September and improved the outside lighting situation at the Top House enormously by mending and rewiring lamps. Such a gift!



On 13th July 2010 at the district court of Ballymote, Co. Sligo, Gregory Atkins of Lavally, Riverstown, Co. Sligo pleaded guilty to Cruelty by Neglect of his horse. As reported in our Spring 2008 newsletter, this magnificent 16.2hh chestnut gelding, whom we called The Major, had been kept for years, without respite, on wet bogland until he developed an extreme case of what we thought at the time was a condition known as mud fever or cracked heels. Subsequent research suggested that the condition may be verucous pastern dermatitis. This skin condition, which is also caused by the horse standing continuously in wet or damp conditions, was eradicated 150 years ago in the British Army during the Crimean War but has seen a comeback over the last ten years. If it could be controlled then, it says little for our animal husbandry today, even with all the water repellent products on the market.

Following a report to the Sai Sanctuary the Gardai confiscated the horse on veterinary advice and he was collected by us and brought to the Sanctuary, whence he travelled to the Midland centre for the Irish Horse Welfare Trust.


The swollen pastern joints covered with infected pustules

There he underwent extensive treatment of the infected areas, namely the top of the hoof to the first joint of the leg (the pastern area) of both back legs. These areas were grossly swollen and covered with pustules measuring up to 2.5cms in diameter which continuously burst, discharging purulent pus and blood. Despite the best efforts of all involved the condition worsened and ultimately the horse was in such extreme pain he was euthanased on humane grounds.

Mr Atkins was ordered to pay all expenses to the Court, totalling €3,597.70 by the next Court date of 14 th September 2010. The Judge would then pass sentence subject to full payment by this date.


HANNAH AND HEPZIBAR (right) , two very neglected mare donkeys who came to us in the winter months have been offered a home with two other donkey mares in Co. Leitrim where they can expect a happier future together.


Ponies BLUE and SIENNA (left) are being rehomed through the ISPCA.


HARRY the Shetland from the ISPCA is to be rehomed in Co. Donegal and another ISPCA mare, WISPA, is homed near Boyle, Co. Roscommon as a companion to another pony.


Exmoor pony BRANDY who arrived in 2006 very overweight and suffering from severe laminitis eventually lost his excess weight and turned into a stunning pony. Recently he found his way into the hearts of a young family in North Donegal where his job is to be companion pony to their own elderly Shetland gelding.

This is an experienced home, able to manage Brandy’s laminitis and the problems he has with breathing due to an over tight headcollar being left on until it damaged his nasal bones and cervical vertebrae. We wish him a happy life with his new family and look forward to visiting him (and Alaska and Harry) in a very beautiful part of Ireland. It is wonderful to see such a great pony happily rehomed.


AMY (left), ZAC (left and right) AND LENNIE (not pictured)

These three donkeys were relinquished to us early in August as their 90 year old owner had gone to live in a nursing home and her nephew, who looked after the donkeys, already had donkeys enough of his own.

As they arrived with longish hooves they were ideal candidates for the farrier demonstration at our annual education day at THE MUSEUM OF RURAL LIFE at Castlebar, which was held this year on 19th August and which we share with another animal welfare charity..

Here they behaved impeccably and were admired and stroked all afternoon by a good crowd of interested people before returning late in the afternoon with hooves trimmed – and ready for supper! Lennie is severely overweight which gave us the opportunity to talk about his probable future health problems and dietary options.


PRINCESS and her three week old colt foal came to us briefly on their way to the ISPCA who were unable to collect them on the day they were relinquished to the Inspector. As we were local we brought them in. Luckily, our farrier, Enda Egan, was in the area so the mare’s severely overgrown hooves could be trimmed immediately.

Next day we delivered them to the ISPCA headquarters in Co. Longford, where we understand they have settled and are improving well. Princess is a very tall, Pyrenean mare who was very undernourished, especially for the time of year, and was suffering from ringworm.



In private only and alone, will I shed any tears
For the special friend now lost to me after so many years.
He might not’ve been human but he had heart and he had soul -
Worth far more than his weight in pure gold.
He’d just need to hear me heading o’er the fields, or vaguely o’er his way
And over he’d trot to greet me with his ear-splitting bray.
I’ve lost count of the times he ventured over unbidden
To seek out a treat in my pocket that I might have hidden.

He was such a loyal and strong little chap;
and he helped bring in hay bales for many’s the moon,
Steadfastly pulling his custom -fit trap
While the neighbourhood children would over him swoon.
Many a tourist too, would stop by the house and simply stare,
As he amused them by poking his head inside my front door.
All he wanted was company, or naturally, to share my edible fare -
A boiled, cooled potato: half the time that’s what he was after for ‘shore’!
However, not only would he poke his head in the door -
Nay, indeed, ‘twas often I had all his four feet on the kitchen floor!

A character, that he was; with a personality so funny,
So friendly and gentle, and disposition so sunny..
Oft’ over the years his hooves I would pare,
His neat little feet kept trim and plain bare -
Just as nature intended them to be...
Oh! I cared for him greatly; sure, this was plain for to see.
His coat was so shaggy, so it was, oh quite;
Everyone loved him, especially me - with all my might!
“He had a great innings”, that’s what people will say,
He’s treading with angels now; peaceful, on his heavenly way.

The name of my friend you ask? Oh, his name, it was Neddy...
Do you know, he even had his own shed,
T’was for comfort and shelter from the wind and the rain
And was also a place he’d rest his sweet head.
He survived ‘The Big Freeze” - and went in the end without pain.
Together we grew old and just a tad wonkey,
God rest you and bless you, my dear little donkey.

Written with love by Antjie Henn for Mick Corbett, in memory of his beloved longeared companion
of countless years, who went spirit-side on the night of January 20th, 2010



Where do we start? So many of you took up the challenge to raise the necessary funds to purchase an adjoining 16 acres of land for the Sanctuary animals to use and enjoy. The response was HUGE!

We are immeasurably grateful to a woman from Galway who made a substantial donation in lieu of a legacy she had planned to leave to the Sanctuary (much!) later.

To Hartmud and Eli , Dave and Victoria, Eugenie, Judith, Mel and Carol, Sabine, the King family, Mary T, Gerry B, and an absolute host of other generous people who gave, sometimes huge amounts, to our Land Fund.


And, to the many others who fund-raised on our behalf, considerably swelling the ‘coffers’ with church gate collections, street collections, market stands, stands at other Open Day events and Shows, children’s colouring competition, selling pens bearing our details, teenage discos, Fun Dog Show and helping with our annual Crazy About Creatures Sponsored Walk which was held this year at Dereen Lake, Nr Boyle, Co. Roscommon in the pouring rain on Sunday 19th September.

Thanks also go to ARDCARNE GARDEN CENTRE, Nr. Boyle who sponsored two vouchers worth €100 each and VOYA SEAWEED BATHS, Strandhill, who sponsored two vouchers for seaweed bath treatments for us to use as prizes, both of which were very well received indeed.

Perdido and Charlie Dougal joined us on Sunday 19th September for our CRAZY ABOUT CREATURES WALK and had a wonderful time sampling the vegan homebaked scones and cakes which were made and donated by Diane Keevans and Steve Furlong. Despite the rain over €3,000 was raised from which a donation of €600 was made to Sligo Animal Rescue.



NEDDY O’SHEA (the face of our website since 2007)

It is the nature of our work that we lose our older animals regularly though it is never without regret.

Late in July dear old Neddy O’Shea, who has been with us since 2003, left us unexpectedly after only a few days of being ‘off colour’ but not apparently distressed until the last couple of hours.

Particular thanks go to vet Evi Stabler who turned out, without complaint, to drive the 20 miles to attend to Ned in the early hours of the morning.

Neddy’s ex owners informed us afterwards that on checking with old neighbours and relatives, Neddy’s age was thought to be over 50 years old! We talk of ‘donkeys years’ but we always thought 40+ was exceptional.

Ned was a sprightly, gentlemanly donkey, loved and missed by all.




One of the Sanctuary’s great characters passed away on August 18th following a stroke which took away the use of his back legs.

Horatio has been with us since 2004 and with one eye, no teeth, around 35 years of age and immense charisma, the yard seems awfully quiet without his noisy and demanding presence. The only thing that won’t be missed is his habit of coming inside from the farthest reaches of the field, to urinate on the bedding. In every other way our lives have been enriched through knowing this gallant little horse.


One of the most upsetting cases that we have ever been unfortunate to witness is that of LITTLE BONES, a two year old stallion donkey brought into us through The Donkey Sanctuary of Mallow. Little Bones was just that – a bag of little bones with a long shaggy coat that successfully disguised his immense malnutrition. What was even sadder was that he had either been caught in wire, or deliberately tied with wire around one front leg just below the fetlock joint. Some attempt had been made to cover the wound with a piece of dirty sacking. As if that wasn’t bad enough he had been left to suffer in that condition for several days before he was discovered and reported to us one Saturday morning.

Little Bones stoically trying to get around on his bandage.

As we were already involved in another case, chief welfare officer for The Donkey Sanctuary, Linda Thompson, took the call and stayed all day until, with the help of the Gardai, the donkey was relinquished to her and late that same evening he was brought to our vet for treatment. His wounds were cleaned and bandaged but we were all in no doubt that the prognosis was very poor and further travel out of the question.

For two days we continued to dress this horrendous wound before he ‘hoofed out’ or in layman’s terms, his whole hoof came away with the bandage. At this point it was clear that the wire had cut so deeply and caused such intense damage to the coronary band (the area which effectively grows the new hoof) that the vets from both Sanctuaries agreed he should be euthanased immediately. This case is so shocking not only because of it’s brutality but because of it’s needless and careless waste. The photos are too distressing to publish in our newsletter or on the website. Sadly, ownership could not be proven so we can only hope the person(s) involved lives to understand and feel true compassion and regret.



We have two new snowscene Christmas Cards and two blank cards for your own greeting, all in our usual 6 x 4 format on good quality laminated card and selling at €1 each inc. envelope. (or £1 sterling)






…AND A CALENDAR FOR 2011 (frontispiece photo as illustrated is also a blank card)


Our calendar is a first for us. It measures 13” x 10.4” (33 x 26.5 cms) with a large selection of photographs and quotation for each month.

It retails at €15 each plus €1.50 postage.

Quantities are limited so do please order early.




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