Where are you based?
Mike's Donkeys is licensed and based in South Wales, however to ensure our transport costs are kept as low as possible and the donkeys don’t spend too long travelling, we have bases in Somerset, Basingstoke and Peterborough. We supply donkeys all over the country and aim to be as competitive as possible, so no matter where your event is, ask us for a quotation and we will do our best to get to you.
Do you have the relevant paperwork in place?
We have public liability insurance up to five million pounds. We also have a licence for working donkeys, which is a legal requirement whenever a donkey is hired and payment is received. We are inspected by the Donkey Sanctuary to ensure the donkeys are in great health and we provide a generic risk assessment for each job and then conduct a more in depth one upon arrival on site as no two event locations are the same.
Are you VAT registered?
We are not currently VAT registered and so when we give you a quotation, there are no hidden extras. Our quotations are inclusive of transport, staff and insurance.
Do you provide helmets for the riders?
It is a condition of our insurance that we supply hard hats for all riders on our donkeys. We always bring a range of hats to ensure they fit a variety of ages.
What happens to the poo?
When a donkey leaves an unwanted gift, we always bring scoops so that we are able to clear it up and either find somewhere that needs fertilising or bring it home with us. We will always clear the hire area of anything generated by us or the donkeys but are not responsible for any litter left by visitors
Are there restrictions for riders?
In accordance with Donkey Sanctuary advice, all of our standard donkeys are restricted to carrying children under 8 stone/50 kilograms. We have four donkeys who are bigger and they are limited to 9.5 stone/60 kilograms. We strenuously enforce this limit because the welfare of our donkeys is of paramount importance to us. If a child is too heavy to ride a donkey, we try to include them by allowing them to lead one instead.
To comply with our insurance regulations, no child under eighteen months is able to ride the donkeys.
Do the donkeys mind travelling?
All of our horseboxes/trailers are adapted with the donkeys' welfare in mind. Partitions are removed and the donkeys always travel loose, enabling them to move around and choose whether to face backwards/forwards/diagonally. Hay is provided on all journeys and we regularly stop to offer water. The vast majority of our donkeys will load themselves. We unclip them at the bottom of the ramp and they walk in with no encouragement. We have cameras fitted so that we can monitor them on route and all of our staff drive slowly and carefully.
Do the donkeys enjoy their work?
It is vital to us that our donkeys are happy and we routinely get comments about how well and content they look. Donkeys are very intelligent and get bored left in a field. They love to meet people and they like to be given a job to do. Just like humans, an active donkey is a healthy and happy donkey. Providing their workload is carefully monitored (none of ours work more than four times a week and they have several months off each year), donkeys are healthier and happier when doing gentle exercise a few times a week. The more calories they burn, the more treats they can safely consume and the happier they are!
Each of our donkeys is treated as an individual and only asked to do what they enjoy. Charlie used to do rides but then started stopping and so we listened to what he was saying and trained him as an assisted-therapy donkey. He now does the bulk of our television and assisted-therapy work, which he loves. We are only happy if our donkeys are happy.
What size parking space do I need to provide?
Due to the volume of jobs we deal with and last minute bookings coming in, we often don't assign staff to jobs until a few days before the event. This means we can't guarantee which vehicle is coming to you. The biggest vehicle is Mike's 7.5 tonne lorry which requires a space of 3 metres wide by eight metres long. If you allow enough space for this, the 3.5 tonne lorries or the jeeps and trailers that our other staff drive will easily fit. Please note that for welfare reasons, we need the vehicles to be parked in close proximity to the donkeys.
What time will you arrive?
We aim to be at each event no less than half an hour before we are due to start. In most cases we will arrive an hour before.
Do the donkeys have to be on grass?
We can work the donkeys on any surface as long as it is not slippy. Concrete is fine, as is grass. If the donkeys are working inside, we can't take them on polished floors. Please note that most of our donkeys won't like walking on tarpaulin or over leads.
How much space do you need?
For petting jobs, our pens are 12 feet square. For rides, we need a minimum area of 20m by 30m but the ideal is a long straight run of around 80m by 15m, so that we can go up and down without having to turn. We try to be as adaptable as possible.
What are the donkeys scared of?
All of our donkeys have been trained to be calm in crowds, around loud noises and in a fairground type environment. What they will not tolerate is anything moving around their feet, therefore we will not work them anywhere near ball games and we can't be positioned next to balloon stands.
How long can the donkeys work for?
When doing rides, the donkeys need a ten minute break every hour but it's normally easier for us to do a half hour break after three hours. We are happy to try and accommodate clients' wishes regarding the timing of breaks but the fact that the donkeys have to have that amount of time off is non-negotiable. The maximum time a donkey can work in a day is five hours with breaks. If your job requires more than this, you will need to book additional donkeys so that some can work whilst others are on breaks.
How many donkeys will I need?
When doing rides, we provide a minimum of two donkeys, as they are happier working in pairs. For assisted-therapy, parades and television work, we have donkeys who are happy to work alone. A rough guide with rides is if you have up to 200 potential riders, two donkeys should be sufficient. Between 200-300 riders would require three donkeys and 300-400 would need four donkeys. We can provide however many donkeys you need (within reason). The most we normally do for one job is twelve but we can be flexible with this.
Do you provide staff?
Yes. We never just drop a donkey off or allow them to be picked up. Our staff know each donkey and are fully trained in how we look after them. All of our staff are excellent with both the donkeys and the riders/parents. We only employ people who we trust 100% to look after our animals, keep the public safe and work with our clients to do the best job possible. When a staff member is assigned to a job, they have all the details provided on a job sheet and they will contact the client the day before the event to clarify everything. Most of our staff are parents themselves and their interaction with children is frequently reported as being excellent by clients. We decide on the amount of staff each job requires, based upon the donkeys that are being used and the environment we are working in.
Do we need to provide anything?
All we need at each event is a space to park our vehicle close to the donkeys and a safe area in which to work. The area doesn't have to be fenced off but, if your event is very busy, this is advised so that the area can be closely controlled. We bring our own water but it is always nice to have access to a tap so that we can refill. We bring our own hay, poo scoop and first aid equipment for the donkeys.
Can the donkeys work inside?
We have specially-trained donkeys who are happy to go into buildings. If you require a donkey to do this it is vital that you make us aware at the time of booking, so that we are able to reserve you a suitable donkey.
What do you do with the donkeys when they retire?
Sometimes we train a donkey up and then find he/she isn't enjoying the work. At this point we may decide to find the donkey a new 5* home as a pet/companion. All of our main working donkeys that have been part of the team long-term are guaranteed a home for life with us. We monitor our older donkeys closely to ensure the work they are doing is suitable for them and adjust it accordingly. When they need to retire completely, we have acres of good grazing with 24 hour access to shelter and other donkeys for company.
How do I make a booking?
To get a quotation for a job, you need to either email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Kelly on 07813 165755 or Mike on 07779 692092. You need to tell us where your event is, what date it is on, what you require the donkeys for and ideally how long you need them. Once you have a quotation and want to go ahead, please email to confirm the event date, how many donkeys you wish to book and the price you have been quoted. Annie will then send you out our booking form and take a deposit to secure the booking. Once we have the booking form and deposit, your booking is confirmed. The booking form is your way of telling us the exact details of your event and if we have any issue with what you have requested, we will contact you to discuss it. With your booking confirmed, you can rest assured that we will honour it and be in touch shortly before to go over last minute details.
The booking email from Annie will have the date and location of the event in the subject title. We get hundrends of emails so please make sure that all those you send to us have this as a subject title so that we know which event they relate to.
Do you take a deposit?
For all bookings under £500 we take a £50 deposit. For bookings over £500, we take a £100 deposit. The deposit is payable either by cheque or BACS. It is vital when paying by BACS or sending a cheque, that you quote the reference number on the invoice. We receive hundreds of payments and without the reference, we have no way of linking the payment to your booking.
What is your cancellation policy?
If you cancel us up to 24 hours before the event, all you forfeit is the deposit and there is nothing more to pay. If you wish to cancel later than that, the full amount is payable. Our staff are excellent and we look after them, so if you cancel with less than 24 hours' notice, they still get paid. We try to reschedule where possible but can't guarantee this as an option. If we cancel an event (this very rarely happens) due to traffic issues, extreme weather, staff or donkey illness, we will refund everything you have paid.
Do you work in all weathers?
We can work in most weather conditions but don't like to work the donkeys in heavy rain. If it is very wet, we normally try to do what we can but in the worst case scenario, the children can come into the lorry to pet and sit on the donkeys under cover, until the worst of the weather passes.
Will the donkeys bite or kick?
Live animals are always unpredictable and so we can never guarantee that the donkeys won't bite or kick. What we do ensure is that we only select animals with good temperaments and that they are happy and comfortable in their surroundings, giving them less reason to get irritated. Every one of our donkeys is checked for it's suitability to work with children by a qualified vet when we are licensed each year and they are only allowed to work if the vet is happy that they are suitable be around children. We would never use a donkey with a tendency to bite or kick.