Family hardships have inspired the couple behind Wallowing Heights to reach out to Wairarapa's disabled community, with the help of two new four-legged friends.
The owners of the Carterton family farm park, Leanne and Clayton Brown, have introduced two young donkeys to the farm, adding to their menagerie of animals.
Expanding on their business' positive relationship with disabled clients, the donkeys will be specifically trained to carry children with disabilities.
In fact, the new additions, Forrest and Jenny, have been named with their future customers in mind -- after the eponymous hero from the film Forrest Gump and his wife Jenny.
"Forrest Gump had all kinds of challenges, but still did amazing things," Mrs Brown said.
Wallowing Heights' proposed disabled riding service arose from a string of tragedies for the Brown family.
In May, 18 of the farm's rabbits died following an outbreak of rabbit calicivirus (RCV).
Having so many beloved pets die all at once was devastating for the Browns -- especially as several of the bunnies were pregnant, and due to give birth any day.
Around the same time, their baby grandson was diagnosed with a rare brain disorder.
As RCV can remain in the ground for up to a year, the Browns were hesitant to invest in new bunnies, so decided to go for a different attraction.
"It didn't feel right replacing the rabbits -- and I'd always wanted a donkey," Mrs Brown said.
A quick search on Trade Me found nine-month-old Forrest and Jenny, advertised by a donkey breeder in Gore.
Observing the donkeys' placid nature, and partly inspired by her grandson, Mrs Brown decided to train Forrest and Jenny to be ridden by disabled children as a therapy aid.
"We already have a lot of children with autism and Idea Services clients come in, and their interactions with the animals are wonderful.
"Apparently donkeys are great for disabled children as they can sense there's something different about their rider, and are sensitive to their needs.
"It seemed like a perfect fit."
The Browns have trained their miniature horses to carry disabled children -- but Mrs Brown said the donkeys will be a better alternative, due to their gentler, more measured temperaments.
"If you put a child on a horse and they start screaming, the horse will bolt.
"Whereas a donkey will just freeze -- that's why they're called stubborn; if they're scared, they'll stop and assess the situation."
Donkeys can also carry heavy weights for their size, hence being known as "the beast of burden".
Mrs Brown said Forrest and Jenny won't carry passengers until they're two years old -- but, in the meantime, she is making sure they're exposed to a variety of children.
"They've been pretty popular with customers so far -- so they're getting a lot of training."