Newsletter Autumn 2012

If we were to document all the comings and goings in the last 6 months it would need a book, followed by another one to thank all the very many people who have rallied round to assist in any way they could to help us cope with the enormous increase in unwanted and abandoned donkeys and ponies. We continue to liase closely with other welfare and rehoming organisations, which although oftentimes results in some shuffling of animals between centres, has definitely resulted in a larger volume being rescued and placed in good foster homes. Some, of course, are too damaged or traumatised to be suitable for rehoming in the foreseeable future and because we are primarily a Sanctuary focusing on long term care and education, many end up here at Sai Sanctuary.

To mention a few, donkeys Cupid, Shy and little mule Ziggy came to us through the ISPCA and donkeys Kessie and Megan came through HungryHorseOutside. Both organisations took donkeys and ponies from us for rehoming and several times helped out with older stallions for which we don’t have separate secure facilities.


These donkey mares were both taken into the ISPCA Centre from separate abuse situations. CUPID arrived with another donkey mare who subsequently died from her neglect, which set Cupid back dramatically just at the point when she was beginning to turn the corner.

There was much discussion as to whether or not she would actually survive or if it would be kinder to euthanase her but fortunately the decision was taken to send her here as company for Shy. There was no denying she was a very damaged little donkey but we all thought she deserved a chance - and she repaid us in full!

A tiny piebald, Cupid is quite twisted on the spine and has one twisted back leg but she doesn't let that stop her from enjoying life and can gambol about like a young one when the mood is on her. She soon settled in the haybarn with Esmeralda, Little Nel and Jessica but will be found outside grazing any day when it's not tipping it down with rain.



SHY was nothing short of a miracle, changing overnight from a terrified, sweating jelly, afraid of her own shadow, to a happy, confident and fun loving girl once she met and was befriended by Sanctuary resident, donkey mare Nellie.

The metamorphosis was dramatic! We attribute some of her change of attitude to a change of venue from the place where through necessity she had to be confined, nursed and regularly injected with antibiotics, have her hooves forcibly trimmed etc to a place, where as yet, none of this has happened . . . so life has changed profoundly for the better.

We couldn't believe our eyes when this donkey no-one could get to within 10 metres of without freaking her completely, suddenly volunteered to be groomed by two people at the same time!!





ZIGGY came later in the year, not as an abuse case, but as a young, energetic and wilful mule with teenager attitude, who doesn’t fit into either donkey or horse camp and appears to be somewhat confused himself. As we already have two older mules we plan to introduce them once Ziggy is used to us all and has had some basic training. We have found mules to be highly intelligent but very sensitive to mood and atmosphere: once upset it’s a case of ‘’forget it”! Firm but soft is the recipe.

Luckily for us he was handled well at the ISPCA and loves children, so he has a good head start. We look forward to him meeting the other mules and realising he is not the ugly duckling after all, but a special boy!!



KESSIE and MEGAN came to us through HungryHorseOutside, designated from the start as Sanctuary donkeys due to the extreme circumstances in which they were found. There is a court prosecution pending. They were both pathetically malnourished; Kessie gave birth to a stillborn colt foal only a couple of weeks after arriving here which was also undernourished and may have been premature. We called him Kestrel and have planted a tree at his place of birth.





On arrival at HHO both mares had appallingly neglected hooves resulting in the coronary band and hoof wall of both Kessie’s front hooves being permanently and irreparably damaged. Both were full of every imaginable parasite, both internal and external. Happily they settled within a few days and really enjoy being with other donkeys, though they remain inseparable from each other. They are timid and mistrustful of being handled but friendly and quite bold when there is a fence or a gate between them and their attending human. No doubt time will heal all.




Early in March we were asked to give Sanctuary to Bonnie, a small, pure white Shetland type pony of great age. His owner loves him with a passion but due to personal problems at the time found herself unable to look after him when Bonnie’s companion pony died of old age and Bonnie was left miserably depressed.

She arranged to bring Bonnie herself from the far side of the country and she continues to visit and support him financially in every way. Though it broke her heart to part, she knew Bonnie needed to be with other ponies of his own size and age group and in a situation that could devote more time to his everyday needs and whims. As Bonnie is a Bobby lookalike except he is white and Bobby black, and both a huge age, we were not surprised when they started to pal up.

Tragedy struck when Bobby died unexpectedly of sheer old age in April ( we think he was over 40 years), but Bonnie seemed to take all in his stride and continued to improve daily. Now he spends most of his time integrated with the herd of small ponies but occasionally asks to graze quietly in another field, or along ‘the long acre’ (side of the road) and sometimes even prefers the company of donkeys. So he pretty much has his freedom, enjoys his daily bucket of special grub, loves being groomed and looks forward to being fussed by visitors. Not a bad life for an old guy!

Early January 2013 - Bonnie couldn't eat and became painfully thin, weak and wobbly. Following several strokes which left him unable to close his mouth he was helped on his journey. He slipped away very quietly and gently. "Such a dear little man, he'd been here only a short time really but captured my heart completely!"




BENE (pronunced Beeney) came to us from HHO on his way to a foster home which subsequently fell through but as he made special friends with Mini Mo, he decided to stay until, maybe one day, the perfect home manifests for them together.

They are a pretty, mischievous pair of adept escape artists requiring loads of love, a not too generous diet and excellent fencing! Never a dull moment guaranteed. All looks of beguiling innocence to be ignored.





Professional independent film makers Carola Gotta and Bernd Kaiser from junglefilms are in need of funding to finish their 40 min. documentary about the Sai Sanctuary. They have shot about 10 hours of very impressive material and have financed this part of the production with their own means. They now intend to edit the film and make it available to an audience at international film festivals. YOU CAN BE PART OF THIS PRODUCTION BY HELPING TO FUND THE EDIT! Please visit the website and look up the film project “Sue's Zoo” in the section “Film & TV”. You will also find a link where you can watch a teaser of the film to get a first impression. If you wish to help, please contact: Carola Gotta, Lecklasser, Ballintrillick, Co. Sligo, Rep. of Ireland – Phone: 0035371 9131768 – Email: Thank you.



Ponies GWILLAN (right) and GUINNESS (below) also joined us in June. Gwillan had been in a foster home accompanying Guinness for 8 years when sadly his fosterer had a road accident which left him slightly disabled and compromised when it came to looking after two energetic ponies.


Gwillan seemed to remember the place despite his long absence and was often seen apparently showing Guinness around - before he fell in love with pretty Lyric and abruptly left Guinness to his own devices.



As the more confident of the two Guinness had no problem with this and gives the impression of preferring the herd to a single friendship. Only time will tell if Gwillan’s “crush” turns into a lasting bond, especially as Lyric’s dam, the fearful Cherokee watches over her daughter with an iron hoof.



JULES (below right) and MR JINKS (left) were two donkey stallions when they were abandoned on a farm during the winter months. Although we were asked to take them then, we were already overstocked and had nowhere secure, away from the mares, where we could keep them until the Spring, when they could be gelded.

These were exceptionally lucky donkeys as their benefactor arranged for them to be kept during the winter, had them gelded at his own expense and only brought them to us when they were fully recovered together with a donation to help with their future expenses.



MR JINKS is a tiny, elegant looking little dark grey donkey, friendly and about 8 years old. His front hooves were badly overgrown, split and damaged but he was not lame. The farrier did a great job of trimming and shaping the hooves though they will need ongoing care.

JULES is only slightly larger, mid brown and also finely built. He’s only two years old. He had a sarcoid growth on his sheath which was surgically removed, thankfully with complete success.




AMIGO didn’t understand the meaning of his name - a least not where other donkeys were concerned! He is loving and friendly towards people, amorous towards the mares and a thug with the other geldings - well, most of them. In particular Mr Jinks. After they had beaten each other up a few times they were separated for their own safety, Amigo accompanied by a couple of mares and Mr. Jinks with Jules and the main herd.

Blood tests were taken to confirm that he is a true gelding (as opposed to a ‘rig’) followed by various therapies to help him overcome what appeared to be excessive male jealousy. Luckily for all of us he was offered a trial home with a young stallion donkey and the two settled down together without a bother and have remained together ever since. It was just a question of finding the right friend! It’s great to see him happy now.





LUCA, by contrast, is a pure pet. He was relinquished by his owners when they had to return to UK, as a dark brown recently gelded yearling. He was here only a couple of weeks when a wonderful home was offered through the ISPCA, Derryclogher as company for another pale fawn coloured yearling gelding called Danny.

At the same time Harriet and Hari were offered the chance to befriend another middle-aged donkey mare with a new colt foal with a view to rehoming them when the foal is old enough to be weaned. Harriet and her new friend, Primrose, just want a quiet life and Hari and Buck just want to play and chase around. Hari is an exceptionally gentle boy for a youngster and was often overwhelmed by the rough and tumble of the older geldings. He is developing his own personality now with his cheeky and challenging young playmate.




Other rehomings include donkey, FINBAR, who went to keep another gelding donkey company in Limerick. His foster-Mum is an active animal welfare and rescue worker, so as Finbar has moved out of our area, we are happy he is with someone we know and with whom we have good contact.

EZRA DUMPHY and BARTLY went together to a farm locally where they have “spoilt-rotten” status in return for grazing the areas the cows can’t reach - or are not allowed to reach. This suits the lads very well as they have great freedom to roam around the place rather like a pair of overgrown dogs and present themselves for petting when the whole family is home for weekends. Pony LILY was placed in a foster home in Co. Donegal through the ISPCA. She went with a retired companion mare though Lily herself will be ridden by both mother and daughter of the family, which is excellent news for Lily who has a problem with her waistline!

Clockwise from top left: Finbar, Ezra Dumphy, Lily and Bartly



Inevitably we suffered some losses too. In April we had to say goodbye to dear old Copper, our ancient chestnut TB mare who has been with us since 1998 , then just a week later one of our little Shetland ponies, Bobby, also a huge age, died unexpectedly.


Copper had lost weight throughout the winter, despite the best of care so we were not too surprised when she finally decided to leave, but we had all begun to believe that Bobby was immortal.


Even the day before he died he was munching his way around the yard without a worry in the world, so we have to be happy for him that he was in good form until the very end.

Copper's friend of many years, another chestnut TB mare called Taus, grieved for weeks afterwards before settling down to enjoy the summer: the two had been together for 10 years so naturally it took time for Taus to adjust.




The Donkey Poem by Paula Blanch

Don’t waste your time young lady, she heard the old man say.
That donkey, well, he’s stupid; they’re all just born that way.
He’s slow to move, can no load in buggy or in sack,
The only thing he’s good for is a whip across his back.

But the young girl, she knew different,,she could sense it in her heart,
She would take the donkey home with her and give him a new start.
So the old man took her money and handed her the reins.
Good riddance to bad rubbish, mules would always be the same.

Ten years of hurt and ignorance and callous disregard
Would need to be forgiven, and left there in the past.
As the young girl walked the donkey home,
There was no need for speech,
Their hearts and minds and souls were joined,
The silence had been breached.
For love can work great magic if you give it but a chance,
Stooped heads will rise, old dreams come true
And broken hearts will dance.

This story is now different from many I have heard.
It teaches of the power of touch and gently spoken words.
The young girl, now a woman, with children of her own,
Still loves the dusty donkey, she first brought to her home.

You see, the donkey symbolises critters everywhere,
That never get to share their gifts or know that humans care.
Through, their lives have been all service, toil and scorn.
A million miles of pain laid out along the paths they’ve worn.

It doesn’t have to be like that, the answer’s in our hands.
All animals can share the blessins God first gave to Man.
Let’s take the time to figure out the debt that they have due
As each lonely, dusty donkey, with our love, can start anew.

(reprinted on-line with permission from



Mid-summer disaster struck for a colleague in equine welfare when her 21 year old lorry driver daughter was involved in an horrific smash on the M1 in UK just outside of Northampton. The poor lass was trapped in the lorry cab for four hours before firemen could cut her free so she could be helicoptered to the Critical Care Unit in Coventry. Her injuries were severe so naturally everything possible was put on hold to allow the immediate family to be at the bedside and to assist in the care for the forseeable future. Family, friends and colleagues rallied round to look after the horses and many other animals, then we were all blessed by a local gentleman who donated 10+ acres of the best grazing, thus allowing many horses to be turned out to grass from being stabled and in training. The subsequent reduction in the workload at HHO made the situation at their centre altogether more manageable and gives us all faith that when things do go horribly wrong, there is always an angel in the wings somewhere waiting to help! Obviously we wish everybody concerned healing from the highest level and ask everyone reading this to add their own special prayers for the young lady's recovery.



Donkey Day at National Museum for Country Life

In conjunction with The Donkey Sanctuary of Co. Cork and The Red Sanctuary of Co. Mayo, we all had a wonderful day, with beautiful weather, on Saturday 18th August at the Museum for Country Life at Castlebar, Co. Mayo. Farrier demonstrations, grooming, in-harness demonstration, children’s competitions and games were all part of an informative yet fun occasion which grows in popularity each year. Our thanks go to everyone who who made it such a happy event and especially to the Museum for hosting us.



With Christmas looming some readers may be interested in a couple of very different books that were put our way. The first is called

Relentless by P.J. O’Dwyer, number one of a trilogy. It is an easy-read, romantic adventure story full of mystery and intrigue but with a dark side that brings awareness to the suffering of horses, particulary those destined for slaughter. Published by Black Siren Books - A good teenager’s stocking filler.The second, The Divine Life of Animals by Ptolemy Tompkins searches and researches the question all pet lovers ask at some time - “Where do our animals go when they die?” Packed with information drawn from myth, legend, religions and philosopies one may expect it to be heavy reading but far from it! Often humorous, lighthearted and deeply personal it ticks all the boxes and would make a welcome gift in any pet lovers’ Christmas stocking. Published at ISBN 978-0-307-45133-0



Throughout the summer months we enjoyed the help of three separate students engaged in work experience as part of their studies in equine, veterinary and horticultural sciences. We also participated in a scheme between an educational centre in Alicante, Spain and work centres here in Ireland for the purpose of practical work experience for Spanish students wishing to improve their English language whilst gaining practical skills. The students helped with a number of jobs from a 250m fencing project along the north boundary of the “new” land, to basic feeding, cleaning and grooming of animals on site. It was great fun, all of us learning from each other to the overall benefit of the animals.


As always we have to say an enormous thank you to our dedicated group of fundraisers who contributed heavily of their time, energy and imagination, creating fundraising events which capture the hearts, goodwill (and cash!) of the Sanctuary’s faithful supporters. Despite having to cancel many of their events due to dreadful weather conditions, we thank our Cornish group, Mrs Jean Salter et al, for yet another year’s substantial contribution of £100 from their car boot sales and a further £100 from a lady who sold secondhand paperback books from a stall in front of her house.

Closer to home we thank Mary Taheny and Kathleen for a continuous supply of church gate collections resulting in a total of € 330.82 ; Diane and Steve for organising a church gate collection resulting in €403.00 , a painting competition in a local National School €74 , and with huge input from Val, a very successful Jumble Sale in Sligo which raised €800 for the Sai Sanctuary and a further €800 for Sligo Animal Welfare. Their next venture, jointly with Adam, was a popular gig held at the end of August in Sligo town which raised €242 and which is to be followed by a further church gate collection at the end of October!

We were blessed by another visit from Hartmud Krinitz (photographer) and his lovely wife Eli (artist) who swelled the coffers by a further €500 mostly collected during their Irish slide shows shown in Germany. Hartmud and Eli have been visiting the Sanctuary for a number of years now touching us with their generosity not only with their money collections, but with inclusion in many of Hartmud’s beautiful photographic coffee table books about Ireland. All this and more from the very many of you who have continued to support us in whatever ways you could. It might be trite, but it’s true. We couldn’t manage without you! So..... THANK YOU ALL!

As long as men massacre animals they will kill each other. Indeed he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love




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