How the Wakefield stars of your favourite seaside attraction get ready for work

When four donkeys from Wakefield stepped out on Blackpool’s Golden Mile this weekend, they were hoping for a queue of children keen to get into the saddle.

Thursday, 6th May 2021, 10:11 am
Claire Farnsworth giving 'Trooper' a 'haircut ' as the Donkeys at Altofts prepare for their Blackpool summer season

But first they have had lots of human input to ensure they are 100 per cent – including a visit from the vet, having their teeth checked and hooves trimmed and a haircut and shampoo.

Owner Mark Ineson who has been running donkey rides in Blackpool for 24 years, keeps 14 of his 20 donkeys at a farm not far from Pinderfields Hospital.

He developed his love of donkeys and Blackpool after holidaying there as a child, and said the animals are stubborn, but far from stupid, and all have their individual personalities.

Farrier Mark Armstrong works on Mark Ineson's Blackpool Beach donkeys getting prepared to go back to work. Picture Tony Johnson

It has been a stressful year. Apart from a brief respite when last July and August, he has not been able to do his usual galas, fetes or agricultural shows and had to go on universal credit for the first time in his life. It has not been easy trying to live on £400 a month while ensuring the donkeys are getting fed and looked after in the way they’re accustomed to.

While he got a grant of £10,000 during the first lockdown, he had to battle to get more funding and only recently secured £5,000.

He said: “People see donkeys on the beach and just think they walk up and down and do rides. They don’t understand the amount of time and effort that goes into preparation.

“We’re hoping for a busy season and that events build up again.”

Mark Ineson with his Blackpool Beach donkeys getting prepared to go back to work after being on furlough during the covid-19 lockdowns. Picture Tony Johnson