Therapy donkey Snowy retired to help ailing friend

Snowy and Vicky
Snowy, at right, has retired from therapy work to help her partially sighted friend, Vicky.

A donkey has been retired from riding therapy duties in England to help a longtime friend with ailing eyesight.

Seventeen-year-old skewbald donkey Snowy has been providing riding therapy for children with additional needs across Devon since 2007, most recently at the charity’s riding therapy centre in Ivybridge.

This month, she was  retired and returned to the charity’s headquarters in Sidmouth to help her friend, Vicky, to receive treatment for her failing sight.

In recent months, staff had noticed that Vicky, 21, had been struggling to find her way around the yard.

Snowy’s retirement from the adoption scheme and the pair’s move to Sidmouth will allow Vicky to receive specialist care for her worsening sight with the comfort of knowing her friend is at her side.

Bob Venn, who runs The Donkey Sanctuary’s riding therapy centre in Ivybridge, says: “Since we opened the Ivybridge centre in 2007, Snowy has been a key member of our donkey riding therapy team.

“She has provided rides and cart rides for children with additional needs, gone on outreach visits to residential homes and proved very popular with supporters who have adopted her as gifts for family and friends or treats for themselves.

“Letters will be going out to all those who have adopted Snowy to let them know about her retirement and move to Sidmouth.

“Whilst we will miss her here at Ivybridge, I am really pleased that Snowy and her friend Vicky are able to move to Sidmouth where Vicky will be able to receive the specialist treatment that she needs from the on-site team of vets.

“In the right setting and with the right care, donkeys can cope very well with blindness and sight problems, so we’re confident that Vicky will be very happy at Sidmouth where her surroundings have been designed specifically for donkeys with visual impairments.

“Once they have gone through their period in our new arrivals unit, supporters will be able to visit Snowy and Vicky along with their new friends in the group of donkeys with sight problems. The Donkey Sanctuary’s Sidmouth headquarters is open 365 days a year with free admission and parking, so Snowy’s fans will be able to visit her as often as they like.”

Reporting: Emma Gill



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