Donkeys for Special Needs

It is becoming increasingly recognised that interacting with animals can have a profound effect on both children and adults with special needs. We have found that people with mental and physical disabilities react incredibly well to our gentle, patient donkeys.

We have a dedicated Assisted Therapy programme run through our sister company Danny Donkey & Pals.

At the bottom of this page you can view a gallery of photos from recent visits to Special Needs establishments.

For those who are light enough to ride the donkeys, the benefits are huge. Riding has many physical benefits, including improving balance, co-ordination and strength. The rocking motion of the donkeys’ walk mimics the natural movement of the pelvis during walking and therefore trains the body to move in the correct way, whilst also building muscle.
Our ridden therapy sessions can be as comprehensive or as basic as required to facilitate the rider’s needs.
Some riders will be able to take part in fun games against each other:

  • posting letters into our specially designed post box
  • weaving in and out of cones
  • balancing eggs on spoons whilst riding
  • jousting
Others may need support from several adults surrounding the donkey and only be able to take a few steps.
All of our donkeys are specially trained to remain calm and steady in all situations and we use saddles with handles on to ensure the riders are stable.

Riding is only one aspect of the therapy we can provide. Just being around the donkeys seems to have a calming effect on many people.

  • those with speech impediments tend to communicate more easily with non-judgmental donkeys than they do with other people
  • grooming and feeding the donkeys teaches a sense of responsibility and also improves fine motor skills and hand to eye co-ordination whilst being a fun, sensory experience
  • all of our donkeys wear a set of bells to provide further stimulation and allow visually impaired people to identify where they are
  • anyone who is unable to ride the donkeys can take them for a walk and those with limited mobility can lead the donkeys from a wheelchair
  • even those with severe disabilities have smiled when helped to just touch a donkey
Because our donkeys are so calm and gentle, they have even been into the bedrooms of people who are severely ill and bed-bound to try and raise a smile and spread a little joy.

All of our therapy sessions are relaxed and fun. The majority are led by Kelly Baker, who has extensive experience working with people with special needs.

Kelly was Head Girl at the Diamond Centre for disabled riders in Surrey and then managed Horse-ology, a therapeutic centre for those with a range of mental health issues and Learning Disabilities.

Kelly and Mike travel all over the country running therapy sessions at schools, hospitals, care homes and private residences. If you are interested in booking a therapy session, please don’t hesitate to get in touch to discuss the possibilities in more detail.

Kelly uses basic Makaton and is trained to work with the following people:

  • those on the Autistic Spectrum
  • those with seizure, developmental and anxiety disorders
  • people with challenging behaviour
  • people with visual and hearing impairments
Even those with severe disabilities have smiled when helped to just touch a donkey.
Kelly has also worked with people suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, brain injuries, Cerebral Palsy and a wide range of Learning Disabilities and emotional problems.

Our donkeys at Special Needs Establishments