Donkeys and Mental Health

“Stubborn, Foolish, Ignorant, Slow, Mean” 

For years, people have made fun of donkey’s stubbornness, their bad temper, their stupidity, and their big ears.

But donkeys are none of these things (well, they do have big ears).

Donkeys are one of the most intelligent, empathetic, and hard-working domesticated animals we know. They have incredibly high cognitive abilities and are well-known for their gentle nature, their fearlessness, their ability to problem solves, and most importantly, their ability to bond strongly and create meaningful connective relationships with human beings.

What can donkeys bring specifically compared to horses, more commonly found in Equine therapy?

The choice of the donkey is based on many specifications that make it an animal of opportunity to address human difficulties and distinguishes them from other animals.

Below, the essential characteristics of the donkey on which the therapy approach is grounded. The donkey’s size is an important matter.

Donkeys love relationships.

Donkeys are gregarious animals, and social organization exists between them (dominance, protection, hierarchy) but, it is unstructured (unlike horses). This ability to create a bond is a common point with humanity that is valuable in that they develop an ever-renewed interest in new encounters and are very cautious and observant of the attitudes of others. In a way, they know they can focus and will be careful and caring in the new links.

The relation to the other is, therefore at the heart of the functioning of this animal, which is an asset for the work in Donkey therapy.

Donkeys are very sensitive.

They are curious animals that use their five senses to interact with the outside environment and adapt their behavior. Their senses are particularly well-developed.

Donkeys have other intuitive senses allowing them to detect the emotions, the inner states, and situations of their herd but also humans. It is one of the essential specifications for working in therapy.

The donkey, a real sponge with human emotions, detect and react accordingly to the human.

The high intelligence of donkeys.

Donkeys have essential cognitive abilities.

Contrary to the stereotypes, donkeys are highly intelligent and have deep learning, memory, and comprehension abilities. They are fearless.

Donkeys know who you are. Therapy is therefore grounded on this bilateral condition, to listen to, and take into account all of what constitutes the being of the person received and the donkey.

The balance is an indication of work, defining the approaches and objectives to choose.

The donkey is of great wisdom.

It is one of the characteristics on which we base care for people with psychological difficulties, mental diseases.

This wisdom is a guide to re-learn our limits. The donkey is an animal that thinks a lot. These “blockages” are often attributed to a bad temper as if the donkey had fads or mood swings. However, the donkey asks many questions and examines the merits of what is asked of him.

He is not afraid, but he is careful, and he takes the time to think and underweight what is best. He, therefore, has great respect for his limits.

It is an impressive skill, for we humans that tend to overwork, and put ourselves in dangerous situations, often taking steep paths.

We can, by analogy, in work done to the donkey, find our protective instincts, and integrate this time of reflection (distance) from the requirements that we receive from others.

We are located in Cave Creek, Arizona.

The Donkeys of the Heart, Inc is federally registered 501(c)3. (EIN 84-3626-799).