Beach donkeys swop sand for green fields of Gloucestershire
SEASIDE donkeys are kicking their hooves away from the sand and surf on a winter break in the lush green Cotswolds.
Working girls June, her foal Babe and sisters Princess and Summer have turned their backs on the Weston-super-Mare beach and are relaxing for the next few months in fields near Bisley.
Their holiday away from giving rides with famed firm Vincent's – formerly Trapnell's – is courtesy of retired filmmaker Bill Young.
It is the first time Mr Young, 82, has hosted over-wintering donkeys.
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"I feed them every morning," he said, handing out a bucketful of apples, bread and carrots.
"It gives me a chance just to check they are okay."
With seven acres of hillside to explore, plus the company of a couple of alpacas, the donkeys are in clover.
"They'll clear fields because they eat almost anything, like a goat," said Richard Warburton, who is a partner at Vincent's.
The business keeps around 60 donkeys, roughly half of which are working at any one time.
June is on maternity leave with Babe and Princess is still too young to be saddled up for paying customers.
Summer will begin giving rides to under 14s, who weigh under eight stone, next year.
She will then be aged four and will be expected to work until she is around 20.
Mr Warburton said: "As they get older they do less.
"We are inspected and licensed as a riding school by our local council and the donkeys have a very good life.
"Donkeys are grazing animals so they have access on the beach to as much hay as they want to eat and, obviously, plenty of water."
Mr Warburton is proud of Trapnell's history. The family has been on Weston beach for more than a century and his business partner Terry Vincent is the late Don Trapnell's son-in-law.