WHAT should have been a relaxing trip to Morocco turned into a busman’s holiday for a McTimoney animal therapist from St Dogmaels when she was asked to treat an injured donkey.

Sarah Wilkinson was visiting the country with her partner Gavin when she attended the Jarjeer Mule and Donkey Refuge that’s home to around 60 donkeys and is located at the foothills of the Atlas mountains, near Marrakech.

Owned by two retired lawyers from the UK, the refuge, retirement home, orphanage and care centre takes in injured and abandoned donkeys from the region and nurses them back to health as well as offering them a permanent residential home.

One of these donkeys was Julie, who couldn’t stand without a hoist and Sarah was asked to treat her.

“Julie was handed over to the sanctuary in November by her owner as she had an injury to her neck, possibly an old fracture, and a lot of soft tissue damage in the area,” said Sarah.

“She couldn’t get up or stand unaided. I used chiropractic and myofascial release techniques around the injury site to help release the restricted soft tissue.

“She also had other areas of compensatory tension through her body which needed some attention. It was quite an emotional experience working on her as donkeys are so gentle and good-natured.”

Two days following the McTimoney treatment, Julie stood up on her own and, although she is still very weak, she is now able to move about by herself.

Susan, owner of the sanctuary, recently sent this update: “Her progress is remarkable, we are hoping she will soon take her first steps outside. Huge thanks to you Sarah, we will never forget your visit!”

Sarah added: “It was lovely to see her on her hooves and improving. It’s heartbreaking to see some of them there as they have had such hard lives as working animals.

“A lot of their owners can’t afford to look after them properly and once they have an injury or are too old to work, they are generally discarded and left to die.”

Sarah hopes to return to the sanctuary on an annual basis to treat the donkeys and to see how Julie is progressing.

Sarah added: “This was such an inspirational place to visit. Not only are they caring for these donkeys, many of whom have had a long working life and have suffered abuse of some kind, they are also raising awareness of the plight of working animals in Morocco and helping to change attitudes towards them.

“They employ a team of eight local Berber men whose love for these animals is clear to see.”