My name is Robert Wallace, on my first birthday I was given a donkey. Her name was Muffin and currently on the farm among 25 donkeys I have her children, her grandchildren, her great grandchildren and her great-great grandchildren!
When I was 6 I wanted to ride a pony of my own, along came Nikki, a little Shetland pony with Napoleon syndrome. I spent more time on the ground than in the saddle.
Fortunately for me with Nikki a donkey came free, this was Denis. Denis is now 27 years old, he and I have been everywhere together from on stage in an opera at the National Concert Hall in Dublin, around the grounds of Stormont buildings to towing a coffin to its final resting place. Denis is the reason for my passion of donkeys and I am eternally grateful to him for directing my life to where I am now.
I finished school in 2015, worked as a hotel receptionist before studying and graduating with a degree in Equine Management from the College of Agriculture, Farming and Rural Enterprise at their Enniskillen campus.
During the pandemic I lost my job at the hotel and was struggling to feed my many donkeys, despite this and the lockdown I began to enjoy and appreciate where I lived and having the animals around me. I was able to spend all day outside, with routine and donkey-snuggles and I realised how lucky I was and this encouraged me to open up the farm to visitors and share my donkeys.
My first visit was in August 2020 and I somehow managed to maintain and grow Kinedale Donkeys while studying, although I was mostly working from home and by that I mean I brought my laptop to the barn and the donkeys listened alongside me to the lectures.
I graduated in the Summer of 2022 and began working for the donkeys full-time, what was a childhood passion became my career, although it does not feel like a job but, a dream.
The goal was always to finance the donkeys, it now works as it always has that if I look after the donkeys, they will look after me.
My favourite work with the donkeys is the therapy, the donkeys play an important role in projects to boost mental health and wellness in patients. Currently I work as an Equine Facilitator alongside a social worker, psychiatrist or mental health practitioner, I provide the donkey they provide the therapy. My next goal is to gain a postgraduate degree in Mental Health Science and be able to utilise my donkeys just them and me!