“The Poor Man’s Motor”

Meet Arinto. When you visit he’ll come to meet you. The Portuguese landscape was once covered in Donkeys like Arinto. Today he’s one of a dwindling, rare breed.

Arinto is a Miranda Donkey. For centuries they were the “arms and legs” of Portuguese agriculture. They made otherwise barren landscapes workable. With their powerful legs and muscular chest they were the engine for families who could not afford one. 

Miranda Donkeys are also kind, and companionable, and far more sociable and docile than other donkey breeds. You’ll discover that as soon as you head to Arinto’s field. After the arrival of affordable cars and farm machinery, Miranda donkey numbers fell. Many were abandoned. But those who kept their donkeys did so for companionship and love. Today ninety percent of Miranda donkey owners are over 75. Unable to part from the animals with whom they’ve shared so much.

But that companionable character is giving the Miranda donkey a new role. Today thousands of people suffering anxiety and other mental health disorders are treated with Asinotherapia. Here the donkey is a “co-therapist”. It’s particularly effective with children with disabilities. But we find it useful on the Quinta after a challenging day too. There are few problems that can’t be improved after a private chat with Arinto.

We – people – made the Miranda donkey. We bred their powerful frame. Their long, soft, hairy ears and big, clodding hooves. We made them a bit like us. To the point that Miranda donkey milk is believed to be the closet to human milk of any animal in the world. Quinta de Boa Esperanca was established to live in harmony with nature. Arinto and the Miranda donkey is a living embodiment of that harmony. That – and so many other reasons – is why we love him.