Amos – 27 year old grey gelding, basket saddle
Led by his owner Diana Dunstan
Amos is ridden regularly by various grandchildren in the family however today his ‘rider’ is actually a doll. He is carrying a basket saddle which is designed to enable very small children to be carried by a donkey in safety. The latest addition to the family will be riding in it very soon but she was deemed too young for this parade. Amos has won the British Young Rider Championship in 2009, and he has been reserve champion on two other occasions, including this summer at the Donkey Breed Society’s Supreme Championship Show, where he also won the Working Donkey class.
Amos has been driven for many years and has taken part in all sorts of different activities, including many of the New Year's Day Parades in Central London, the Pearly Kings and Queens Harvest festival and procession at the Guildhall, and in the donkey driving display in the main arena at the Burghley Horse Trials in 2010 and 2017. He even took his owner to the polling station on election day.
Amos is a very versatile donkey who does a bit of everything – from attending Driving Camps, fetching his own hay and straw from the farm, and trips to the village pub (where he has been known to enjoy a beer!) to appearing on stage in the opera Carmen. He has also appeared in Tanya Larrigan’s equestrian variety show, Magic of The Horse at Towerlands. He visits schools, goes into church every year on Palm Sunday, and takes part in Nativity plays. He is a very cheeky character, and follows people around like a dog.
Following his recent trip to Burghley Horse Trials, his photograph appeared in “Hello” magazine, pictured with the Countess of Wessex and her daughter, Lady Louise Windsor. Ever since then it seems that fame has gone to Amos’ head, as he has started banging on his stable door demanding to go inside, and shouting for his supper at 5 o’clock on the dot - after all Royalty never have to wait for their supper do they?
Avoncroft Comanche (known as Cody)
– 7 year old coloured gelding
Ridden by Aimee Teale, with her mother Sarah Teale at his head
Cody is being ridden today by Aimee and they are dressed as if competing at a show. The donkey's mane is trimmed to look neat and tidy, and the animal is probably washed (especially those white bits). Lots of brushing will bring a shine to the coat, eyes and noses are wiped clean, the hooves are cleaned out and the application of hoof oil completes the job. Keeping the rider clean too can be quite a challenge!!!
Cody is shown in hand as well as under saddle, and competes at many shows. Two years ago he was ridden at the Donkey Breed Society Supreme Championship Show by Aimee, and they became the 2015 British ridden champions.
Away from the show ring Cody is very versatile, and is kept busy taking part in Nativities and Easter plays, and Palm Sunday services. He visits schools, and a summer holiday kids club. He enjoys walks and rides around his village, and is just starting to be trained for driving in harness.
Cody, like many donkeys, shows a great affinity with little children and people with special needs. He has endless patience and is always very gentle, in spite of being relatively young.
Brian – 11 years old black roan gelding
Ridden by Jessica Barnet, with John Dunstan at his head.
Brian is a big boy who measures 13 hands high. This makes him unusual as most donkeys in the UK are between 10 and 11 hands high.
Brian had a slightly unusual start in life. His pregnant mother had worked in a French circus, and was brought to England without a passport (which is illegal). She ended up being taken in by a farm park near Southampton, and gave birth to her colt foal soon afterwards. The farm park staff organised a competition to name the foal, and nearly everyone supported the suggestion that he be named after the owner of the park so he became Brian.
When he was old enough, Brian moved on to other homes and was a companion to a horse, and then became part of a donkey racing team, but he was really a bit too big for donkey racing so he moved to Bedfordshire to be with his current owners .
He enjoys being ridden, and is very quiet and placid in spite of his size. He is big enough to carry up to ten stone and so can carry anyone from a toddler to a small adult. He has been to a few shows, and has competed in Large donkey classes, Pet donkey classes and Fancy Dress. He enjoys ridden dressage, and is quite good at it. At one show Brian was competing in a covered arena, and he obviously decided that the soft surface looked nice and comfy so while waiting in the line up, he sat down for a rest, much to the amusement of all the onlookers.
Brian really is a gentle giant - a BIG softy
Romance du Bocage - 11 year old grey mare
Ridden by Imogen Jones- Percival, with Olwen Brown at her head
Romance is an 11 year old Cotentin donkey imported from France. Cotentins are a breed of donkey that is larger than standard British donkeys. They are still used for farm work as well as milk production in Europe. Romance is ridden regularly at home and shows. She also pulls harrows in places too hilly for a tractor. She is ridden by 11 year old Imogen, who has been riding ponies and donkeys since she was 3. Imogen also drives the donkeys and ponies.
Coffee – 28 year old dark brown gelding
Ridden side-saddle by Jade Weaver, with Clare Strang at his head
Coffee has many awards under his belt from junior handling championships, multiple times ridden champion, along with condition and turnout awards, long reining prizes and now veteran awards too. He has also featured in music videos, the London New Year's Day parade, Christmas pageants, photo shoots and Palm Sunday processions. Today he is being ridden side saddle which has been a traditonal way of riding for ladies for centuries. Although based in the past, side saddle is a style of riding that is still used today.