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Rasta Donkeys, as I call them, are big, stocky donkeys with their coats in dreadlocks. They are local to this region and were nearly extinct in 1977 when their numbers dropped to only 44. Now there are more – probably about 180 pure bred ones with another 200 or so which are not 100% pure stock.

Pure stock should be large – between 13.1 and 14.3 hands high at the withers, they should have a brown shaggy coat known as a cadanette in French and have a white under belly, white nose and a white ring round each eye although this is often not visible due to the dreadlocks.

They were originally used to crossbreed with a type of horse called a Mulasssiere to produce Mules which were particularly good workers.

The one photographed here is living at La Parc de la Belle and I am not sure if it is pure bred. You can also see them at Dampierre sur Boutonne. On the Ile de Re they sometimes dress  these donkeys up ostensibly to keep the flies off, though I think with a full coat it would have to be a very determined fly to get at them. Click here for more info on donkeys in culottes!