Newsletter Autumn 2011

It has been an extraordinary summer, unfortunately for all the wrong reasons, as even with the additional 16 acres of land we quickly found ourselves deluged with welfare calls and overstocked with donkeys, ponies and horses. Nor have we been on our own! We have continued to liaise with the ISPCA, IHWT, Hungry Horse Outside and Sligo Animal Rescue, with positive results for all concerned, as we pitched in to help each other and consequently more animals.

The Sai Sanctuary has, so far this year, attended 45 welfare calls, taken in one horse, 10 ponies and 11 donkeys and rehomed one horse, 6 ponies and five donkeys.


First to arrive were WISPA and her miniature gelding friend OISIN, relinquished as the elderly lady who was looking after them was finding the going just too tough, especially after the last winter. Wispa was on foster loan from the ISPCA to keep Oisin company and the two were great friends to each other throughout the really bad weather.

Wispa (left) and Oisin (right)


Interestingly, given the option to choose differently, Wispa graduated to the larger ponies and Oisin took charge of AYWA and ARIA, two miniature Shetland mares, herding them around in a tight-knit little group under the unmistakable label of “My Girls” so it made sense when the opportunity arose, to foster the three of them together to a lovely home locally where they have settled in brilliantly and are much loved.

Wispa also found an outstanding home in North Donegal with a family of three teenage children, one of which is particularly gifted with horses. The family already have a Wispa look-alike called Trigger, the existing and very lonely pony who was over the moon to have a friend of his own at last.






NADIA was relinquished from a good home that was just overloaded and had inadequate facilities to look after an active Welsh/Arab two year old filly and fortunately for her, her owner had the generosity to give her up for her own future.

It must have been a difficult choice as Nadia is not only physically stunning but enjoys a kind and cheerful temperament: she had been well handled so is not as giddy as one might expect from her breeding and will make a beautiful pony of possible show quality with an experienced handler.




CHEROKEE, LYRIC and Lyric’s friend LEGEND, came to stay to free up valuable space at the ISPCA in order that more immediately rehomable ponies could be handled and fostered out.




Cherokee originally came to us during the winter of 2009 with SIENNA and BLUE, but as she was then heavily pregnant with Lyric she travelled straight to the ISPCA at Derryclogher for foaling down.

(Sienna and Blue (Indigo) see here - PONIES)


Later Sienna and Blue followed suit so Sienna, now called Sky, could have her foal (a chestnut Lyric clone!) and the now gelded Blue was placed in a foster home where he is doing well.





Unfortunately Cherokee is an unpredictable temperament and is, therefore, not considered suitable for rehoming so she will stay here at the Sanctuary indefinitely.

Lyric is growing into a delightful and very pretty filly with a soft and friendly nature and Legend is the archetypal fun children’s pony, always playing the fool and getting up to mischief but essentially a trustworthy and loving nature. Hopefully both he and Lyric will find caring homes.







THE DUCHESS, a potentially glorious liver chestnut cob arrived from the same area as a very undernourished donkey mare whom we called ERMINTRUDE.

The Duchess (below) and Ermintrude (right)

The Duchess







Both had been badly neglected throughout a tough winter though The Duchess soon showed signs of improvement after a worm dose and good grass.



Ermintrude is taking a lot longer to regain her weight but that may be partly down to her having great “attitude” - she’s always off with the herd, playing chase with the lads and teasing someone into a play fight. She’s a real little character who has perfected the “who me?” look whilst committing amazing mischief. Her hooves were grossly overgrown on arrival but hardly slowed her down - or so we thought. After trimming we realised we should have called her Arkle or Red Rum.

The herd charging



Whiskey (below) and Malibu (right)

WhiskeyWHISKEY, a liver chestnut miniature pony gelding and MALIBU, a seriously overweight silver and white miniature pony mare were placed in a lovely home on the West coast just north of Sligo with a family who understand that overfeeding is as dangerous and as unkind as underfeeding, so Malibu is on a strict diet until she is a more acceptable size.








On arrival it was noted that she “looked like she had swallowed another pony” - a perfect but unhappy description of a potentially fatal condition. She is a dear little thing with a very gentle nature, a perfect foil for Whiskey’s ‘little man’s’ complex!




Three donkey stallions, ARAMIS, ATHOS and D’ARTAGNAN were found abandoned in Glenwood Forest near Coolaney, Co. Sligo.

As they had been placed behind the second set of gates out of public view, and well behind a forestry notice stating clearly that any animal found grazing forestry lands would be immediately confiscated, we had no problem bringing them away, with the help of the Gardai. (How we wish more owners of forestry and private lands would display such notices!).

Aramis, Athos and D’Artagnan (right)


Overgrown hooves


The donkeys were a little undernourished, full of lice and had extremely overgrown hooves, the like of which we haven’t seen for 15 years.

These three were quickly followed by two more mature stallions, relinquished from Co. Mayo as an unwanted gift. We kept the theme and called them PORTHOS and MUSKET.

MusketMusket (left) and Porthos (right)

Obviously they had to be kept at a separate farm from our main herd of old mares and geldings and, as they were all big lads, we asked if The Donkey Sanctuary in Co. Cork would take them so they could have the benefit of a hospital environment for their castration operations.

Their transfer took time, partly because they are only 5 of almost 300 donkeys The Donkey Sanctuary has taken in this year so far, but also because, as they were of unknown origin, blood tests for certain potentially dangerous equine diseases were required before transportation. With so many equines being dumped from dubious circumstances it is essential to protect the healthy donkeys from the introduction of potentially fatal diseases.



ASLAN caused us some excitement when early in June he decided he was a stallion after all! As he is now 18 months to 2 years old and had shown no stallion attributes, we had presumed him to be a gelding, in spite of being told by his previous owners that he was still entire. Fortunately the weather was still cool and fly-free so our vet operated immediately. Although it was unlikely he would have been fully fertile we took precautions with all the elderly mares and had them injected against pregnancy, for as endearing as donkey foals are, most of our mares are too old to carry a foal now and with the huge surplus of unwanteds, we certainly don’t need to produce more!



Our welfare calls have continued relentlessly throughout the summer, many concerning donkeys in poor condition, left alone with overgrown hooves, no companion and, not infrequently, without water. Many were stallions so although we were able to feed, water and generally administer to these animals, credit for taking them into care goes again to the Donkey Sanctuary with their special facilities, equine hospital, vets and trained staff.

Horses and ponies have been a major problem with just SO many being abandoned. The Department of Agriculture has been proactive in helping out with welfare calls and investigating potential problems but even with all resources pulling together hundreds of horses have had to be euthanased.

The Equine Welfare Groups within the country have networked to bring in, give sanctuary and rehabilitate as many equines as possible but regrettably the numbers are on an unprecedented scale. Nor do we see an immediate end to the problem as there is still a great deal of breeding going on in all areas and no improvement in the selling value.

On a more positive note the crisis has encouraged a move towards improved legislation for the running of Horse Marts with penalties for Mart owners/organisers found guilty of non-compliance. Greater efficiency in the enforcement of Horse Passports and the probability of breeder licensing are also under discussion.


A Blessing

A Blessing

Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass,
And the eyes of those Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely; they can hardly contain their happiness
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.
At home once more
They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms
For she has walked over to me
And nuzzled my left hand.
She is black and white
Her mane falls wild on her forehead,
And a light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
That is delicate as the skin over a girl’s wrist. Suddenly I realise
That if I stepped out of body I would break
Into blossom.

James Wright 1927 -1980


Abandoned cob foal

Many people were involved in a welfare case involving these three piebald cobs. The yearling (centre right) was abandoned when his mother and sister were removed from the welfare scene. Fortunately for him he found a loving home where he is turning from the proverbial ugly duckling into a stunning swan!


Too tight headcollar





His mother and sister were perhaps less fortunate as when we were told about them, they were both wearing headcollars that were far too tight and had embedded deep into the flesh behind the ears.

Sores had been rubbed on the nose and both sides of the cheeks and flies were infecting the wounds.

Although they were removed from the barren, sour field by their owner (a member of the travelling community) we have no idea where they are now, or in what condition. We can only hope for an improved environment so they can gain condition before winter.






BENSON was relinquished reluctantly from Co. Mayo when his owners were obliged to return to the UK.

He is a fun loving donkey gelding with wonderful ‘sticky-up’ ears and a taste for chewing zips, buttons, toggles and jacket hoods. Visitors are warned that he also nips when he feels he’s not getting all the attention! He quickly settled in with the main boy-gang and is often to be found hanging out with Finbar to whom he bears a remarkable resemblance.




Bhodi (left) and Benson (right)

BHODI (alias Noddy) was delivered to us from Co. Cavan as his lady owner was downsizing and ‘not interested’ in keeping him. Had she not been able to place him in a Sanctuary she would have had him euthanased rather than sell him into an unpredictable future - a responsible attitude but none-the-less we are delighted she found us first.

Bhodi is an extremely handsome donkey of good size and has a wonderful gentle and affectionate nature.







Later in August CHARLIE (seen right) a beautiful young stallion donkey, was relinquished when his owner died. Once gelded in September Charlie will join Noah, another young gelding, thereby releasing his long suffering but very tired elderly companion mare donkey, PRADA, from Noah’s constant attentions.

It is hoped Prada will settle in with our older donkey group to enjoy a quiet and well deserved retirement

A potentially sad case of neglect was ‘nipped in the bud’ thanks to the prompt action of local Gardai who supported the confiscation of two pony fillies and a mare and stallion donkey from a half acre, very poor quality field, where they had been kept together for over 3 months.

Morgan and Meredith












(above) and Meredith (above and right)

Local neighbours had been giving them fresh water, along with ourselves, and as we watched the weight slip from their bones we had also started feeding them.


Their owner is unable to look after animals due to learning difficulties, but unfortunately there is no law to prevent him from obtaining more, so in all probability these four have merely added to an ever growing list of animals that have been removed from his care over a period of many years.

The two donkeys have come to the Sanctuary and we are extremely grateful to Hungry Horse Outside of Co. Longford, for taking the two ponies, a yearling and a three year old, both unhandled and very timid. All animals were undernourished and needed their hooves trimming.






Dear SOLOMAN died of old age at the Sanctuary on 18th July, 2011. He was most probably over 40 and had been with us for 18 years since 1993 when we bought him at a local horse fair in very poor condition.

His front legs had been hobbled with wire and he had equine ‘flu from which we were not sure he would recover. He was too afraid to let us near him to administer any kind of drugs so we placed homeopathic remedies in his water and did a lot of praying!

Fortunately he did recover and quickly became one of the Sanctuary’s most loving and lovable characters.


He made special friends with Neddy O’Shea and Neddy Flat Tyres (now sadly both gone) so the three were affectionately known as the “Three Musketeers”. His big fluffy head and gentle ways made him a favourite with young and old alike, especially when he used to “sing for his supper”, a particular Solly bray we will always remember with fondness.


Penny Biccy

Within the week we were devastated to have to say goodbye to our two ‘special needs’ cases, PENNY BISCUIT (right) and FLORRIE (below) .

Penny Biscuit was an enchanting 26+ year old Shetland mare with a fabulous nature, who had suffered chronic laminitis in her younger years before coming to us in 2004. Later arthritis set in, distorting her joints and restricting her movements until in recent weeks the combination stole her quality of life. It just wasn’t fun anymore.

Her best friend and constant companion for the past two years was FLORRIE, a tiny, shaggy coated donkey mare of around 40years.




Florrie too, suffered from degenerative arthritis and had recently grown a tumour over one eye so we knew she was very much on ‘borrowed time’.

Her movements were also very restricted so there was no question of her being able to join the other donkeys, so in discussion with both our veterinary surgeon and two animal communicators, we decided the final act of kindness would be to let them go together rather than suffer the pain of separation and loneliness, on top of the physical difficulties.




We thank all of you who sponsored Solomon, “Biccy” and Florrie over the years, thereby playing an active part in what we believe were happy years for them here at the Sanctuary.



Sue, Steve and DianeThe Sai Donkey Gingernut Fest, which was organised by Diane Keevans and Steve Furlong, was held with great success at The Coach House, Ballymote, Co. Sligo on 6th August. Five live bands played on the night and a total of €565.00 was raised.

Thanks go primarily to Diane and Steve but also to The Coach House, Ballymote, Co. Sligo who donated the venue and to the five bands, Sound of Silence, Quakers, Excuses, Found on the Floor and Sickener, many of whom had travelled great distances to donate their time and talents to the cause. Thank you all!


Sue with Steve and Diane and a very 'large' cheque




Our thanks go yet again to Steve Furlong and Diane Keevans who raised €474.51 at a collection in Super Value, Ballymote during May, and to Mary Taheny and her friend Catherine who raised a total of €526.43 with church gate collections.

We also extend an absolutely huge thank you to the many of you who have supported us with donations. Whether it be €10 or €1000 it is deeply appreciated and for those who have been able to donate even larger amounts we are enormously grateful as you have allowed us to complete vital work both with the animals and for the animals.

Enormous thanks go to Joost for his work fencing the new land along the road. This involved erecting a completely new interior fence 2 metres inside the existing fence, which also needed extensive repair. The ribbon of land created within the two fences will be planted during the winter months with an assortment of trees and bush shrubs which we hope will grow into a healthy hedgerow. Due to the exposed site and the nature of the land growth, is always slow here so we need to choose hardy varieties to withstand the wind chill. Six new gateways have also been made and two older gates replaced, which makes it easier for us to rotate the grazing and move all stock internally, instead of herding them up and down the road to change fields.

We also extend thanks to Chris, Bob and Jo-Anne of Washington DC who visited again this summer and helped out with all sorts of jobs from digging holes for gateposts, pointing up stonework and replacing the roof of a small field shed, to grooming and poopa-scooping. It was great fun having them around: we miss you guys!

Earlier in the year we purchased a 20ft lorry body with aluminium floor and roof, which we used as a (much used in this summer!) temporary field shelter but which will ultimately be moved to the yard for storing winter hard feed. A more robust container body, funded in memory of a donkey lover called John, and appropriately called “John’s Shed”, is now in place as a field shelter.

Other jobs include the replacement of the boards around the sandpit adjacent to the donkey sheds as these had rotted away over the years, and all manner of gate fittings/closures, drainage grids and a new wind door for the big donkey shed, all handmade by our neighbour, Jurgen. We are immeasurably grateful for the considerable time and effort given in completion of all this work.



Donkey DayDespite a very soggy and dismal start to Donkey Day, which was held at the Museum of Country Life near Castlebar in Co. Mayo on Friday 12th August and despite torrential showers during the day, it was a good turnout with a great deal of interest shown.

As always the farrier’s demonstrations held crowds captive as Paddy, the farrier, explained the finer points of trimming and shaping the donkey hoof while he worked away on the ten donkeys present (thank you donkeys, too, for being such well behaved subjects!)

Other attractions included a demonstration, using a beautiful little donkey gelding called Wally, of the correct tack for a children’s riding donkey (most donkeys are comfortable carrying up to 8 stone or about 50kgs) and harnessing for both a modern 'chariot' and a more traditional trap.

Donkey Day


Information leaflets, displays, videos, and children’s competitions were available and Paddy Barrett of The Donkey Sanctuary, Mallow, Co. Cork gave an hour long talk with an interesting question/answer session.

It was great fun to meet up with old friends from past years who braved the weather to visit us again, pet the donkeys and generally catch up on the donkey news of the year. Our thanks go to The Museum of Country Life for hosting the event.







The Gang (left) and Snowset (right)

The Gang - Christmas card

Sol in snow - Christmas card

We have two new Christmas cards selling at €1 each with envelope

And, our 2012 Sathya Sai Calendar selling at €10 each plus postage.

We also have some blank card designs from last year.




Left: Our frontispiece for the 2012 calendar - the rest is a surprise!

Please order early as supplies are limited!!

Lower Cloghogue
Co. Sligo

Tel: 00353 (0)86 1031932


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