Horse and pony - site index.Horse chat message boards.Horse breeds, types and breeding gallery.Search for horse information on Equiworld.Horse information and equestrian news horse and pony magazine.Horse web links.  

Lightening The Burden Of Donkeys In The Holy Land

There is something about a donkey that makes us all go a bit soppy. Whether it is because of Christian religious connotations or the sheer cuddliness of Winnie the Pooh's depressed Eeyore, there is little doubt that the humble donkey holds a special place in the heart.

However, this is not the case the world over and in some countries donkeys, mules and asses are treated dreadfully through cruelty and neglect - often the result of a different cultural take on this most endearing of creatures.

One person who has been determined to make a difference is British Lucy Fensom, who gave up the glamour of being an airhostess for BA to form Safe Haven for Donkeys in the Holy Land (SHADH) in 2000. People will be able to see the work of the organisation at first hand at this year's Midlands Equine Fair to be held at the Three Counties Showground, Malvern, on 8 and 9 March


Lucy had travelled extensively throughout Israel and the Palestinian Territories, and was horrified over and over again by the maltreatment of donkeys in the region. Her list of horror stories seems almost endless - a pregnant mare being hit and run over by a taxi; donkeys tethered with wire for so long that the tether removed flesh to the bone; animals being left tied up in extremes of heat and cold with no water or food; beatings, overburdening and other outrages.

Lucy took action, and SHADH is now a registered charity and operates a rescue centre based just outside the Israeli town of Netanya. With a small team of local and European colleagues, she has developed a centre that provides protection and care for abandoned and abused animals and which works hard to raise awareness of the problem throughout the region.

The team is working towards establishing an education programme and visitor centre. Not only will this activity raise awareness of the plight of donkeys in the region, it will also provide a base from which educational and veterinary outreach campaigns can be conducted.

SHADH currently looks after 51 donkeys at the rescue centre, and many more out in the field as part of an ongoing welfare programme. Lucy and her team have great plans for changing the cultural appreciation of donkeys in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, which in turn will improve the conditions in which many of these animals live. However, despite Herculean efforts there is just six months of funding left in the pot and the future could look bleak for Lucy's donkeys if no further funding is forthcoming.

"There are many ways in which people can help," said Lucy. "We run an 'adopt-a-donkey' scheme which is very popular, and there are capital projects that we need to undertake that individuals or businesses can sponsor in return for all our help in raising their profile. But any source of income - from donations, legacies and other forms of charitable giving - is most welcome. Indeed, the future of our donkeys depends on it."

Visitors to the Midlands Equine Fair will have the ideal opportunity to discuss SHADH with Lucy and her team, and to look at ways that they can help. The charity runs a website - - and it can be reached at its address of SHADH, PO Box 2400, Hove, East Sussex, BN3 4AL.

Tickets for the Midlands Equine Fair are available in advance from Contour Exhibitions & Events by calling 08700 115007 and advance booking discounts are available. Further information and leaflets are available by calling 01884 841644, or by logging on at


Find out more, visit the links page or find answers on the message board.