Donkeys have been part of a wellbeing session, organised to support equine welfare officers from major equine charities.
The session invited officers from RSPCA, the Mare and Foal Sanctuary, the Hugs Foundation and the Donkey Sanctuary for a day to connect and build relationships with colleagues in similar roles.
The officers visited the Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth, where they were also able to interact with and spend quality time with the resident donkeys. The officers were put into three groups, which were rotated through different opportunities to connect with each other and with the sanctuary’s donkeys.
One mindfulness session offered them the chance to spend time with and groom the donkeys. Another saw the welfare officers create enrichment treats for the donkey herd.
The third activity was a donkey-facilitated learning session. Participants brought in an object which represented how they felt about their work life, and discussed it in the presence of the donkeys.
The group then observed how the donkeys mirrored their emotions when they were telling their stories.
The event was organised to help the officers with their self-awareness, managing their emotions and communication. This could help them with staying calm and grounded during stressful situations.
As well as improving the officers’ wellbeing, the Donkey Sanctuary says this will also make them more comfortable for equines to be around. Particularly for more anxious donkeys, having officers who are calm will make it easier for them to build trust and bond with people.
Jenna Goldby, the senior donkey welfare adviser who organised the event, said: “These days not only offer some emotional support, but also allow colleagues to network and form bonds and solid working relationships which they can take back to the field.
“It also gave an opportunity for those field officers that don’t deal with donkeys daily to ask questions and have some hands-on experience with these very special animals.”
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