What's happening

26 October 2017

Back to School with Red's Shed: Why do horses and donkeys wear rugs?

Hi, Red here – it’s time for another back to school lesson, so I hope you’re sitting comfortably!
When visiting Redwings, if you’re really eagle-eyed you might have noticed that some of the residents wear rugs (those lovely colourful coat-like-things you may see on a horse’s back) while others don’t. Why do you think that is?
It’s because every horse is different and our wonderful team make sure that each and every resident has exactly the care that’s right for them.

In the winter, a rug will keep a horse warm
Most horses can cope with cold temperatures – especially those breeds that originate from colder climates, such as Shetland ponies like Sampson! In winter, Shetlands grow thick coats to protect them from the cold and actually they would be too hot if they wore a rug on top of all that extra hair. 
But, some of my older friends need more closely looking after;  you’ll see them wearing a rug when it’s a bit colder outside, so they don’t have to use as much of the energy they get from food to keep warm! This is also true for breeds that originate from warmer climates, like Arab pony Aslan, who don’t naturally grow a winter coat of their own. 
Rugs protect horses (and donkeys!)
Rugs aren’t always designed just to keep horses warm. They can act as protection too – for instance, if one of my friends has a wound on their body, a rug can protect that area until it heals.. Rugs are also good for keeping off the flies in the summer.
As for donkeys, they often wear rugs when it’s wet – just like wee Amos here.Why’s that, I hear you ask?! It’s because their coats are not waterproof, as they originally come from Africa, and so donkeys weren’t naturally designed to cope with the rain!
Rugs help keep out the sun
Just like suntan lotion protects humans on a hot and sunny day from UV rays, a rug can do the same for horses. Some of our horses are particularly sensitive to sunlight and so they have to wear a protective rug to stop the sunlight getting through – just like Amigo the cob. If he didn’t wear a rug, his skin might get badly burnt! Don’t worry though, they don’t get too hot as the rug has been specially designed to keep them cool as well as protected from the sun. Isn’t that clever?!
Don’t forget, if you’re coming to see us at Redwings and you’d like to know a little bit more about any of my horsey friends, the very nice people who work here at Redwings will be more than happy to answer your question! How many horses can you spot wearing a rug on your next visit?


04 October 2017

Back to School with Red's Shed: markings!

Hi, Red here!

When you come and see us at Redwings, you’ll notice that a lot of our residents have a weird and wonderful variety of markings on them, making every single one look a little bit different! Have you ever wondered what they are called?

White face / blaze / stripe

These three are pretty similar but don’t get confused! A ‘blaze’ is a wide strip of white which runs all the way down from a horse’s forehead to their muzzle, just like Cauli in the photo! A ‘white face’ is similar but extends wider, past the horse’s eyes, and a ‘stripe’ is much thinner than a blaze.


This is anything from a tiny dot to a larger mark which can be seen on a horse’s forehead. It is normally diamond-shaped, which is why it’s known as a ‘star’!


This is a white patch on the muzzle, which could be any size.

Mealy muzzle

This is a funny name! It means that the horse’s muzzle is very light brown, and most often you’ll see this on bay horses. You might see similar markings on other parts of the horse’s body too.

Stockings / socks

‘Stockings’ are markings on the legs of a horse, that extend past the knee (hence the name!). If the markings only go up to halfway between the fetlock and the knee, then they are known as ‘socks’. A bit like socks and stockings that we humans wear!

Next time you visit Redwings, you’ll be able to impress your friends and family with your new-found horsey knowledge! You can find out more by downloading our special sheet – which also tells you about some of the other markings you might see – here. Bring it with you on your next visit and see how many markings you can spot!


26 September 2017

Back To School with Red's Shed: five facts!

Hi, Red here!
How’s the school term going? I hope that you’re learning lots and having fun too!
Last week, we talked about all the different colours of horses that you might see when you come to visit us at Redwings. This week, I’m going to teach you five amazing facts about our residents which you can impress your family and friends with next time you come along!
Fact one: Horses are prey animals – this affects how they think and behave
Horses don’t eat other animals – instead, they mainly eat grasses (such as hay, which is dried grass) and plants. For a very occasional treat, horses might enjoy fruit and vegetables, such as carrots.
However, in the wild horses are hunted by humans and other animals, such as wolves.
This explains why horses behave the way they do. When they encounter danger, or something unfamiliar (such as a loud noise), they want to get away as quickly as they can. It’s also thought that a fear of predators leads horses to live together in groups called “herds”, and also means that most horses sleep standing up during the day (see fact four)!
Fact two: A healthy horse will poo 10 times a day
That’s why, when you come to see your favourite horses at Redwings, you’ll often find quite a lot of poo around – we do clear it regularly, but as there are some large groups of horses or donkeys together, there’s going to be an awful lot of poo!
Fact three: Horses are trickle feeders, eating little and often!
As humans, we generally eat three meals each day – breakfast, lunch and dinner. Horses, however, tend to eat little amounts constantly – in fact, they can graze for up to 16 hours a day. Imagine eating for the entire time that you are awake, from the minute you wake up to the minute you fall asleep. That’s what horses are capable of!
Fact four: Horses have special locking knees which allow them to sleep standing up and not fall over! 
They will lie down if they are feeling very relaxed, but there will always be one horse ‘standing guard’ in a field. You can see Snuffles and Faith snoozing standing up in the photo!
Fact five: Horses are very quiet animals – they tend to talk to each other with their body language. 
Horses mainly use their eyes and ears to talk to each other. A droopy lower lip, floppy ears, lowered tail, resting hind leg, and lowered neck mean there’s no cause for alarm. However, flared nostrils, tense muscles, an erect head, neck and tail, along with ears back and eyes open wide shows fear, which in turn would prepare the whole herd for flight. We’ll talk more about how horses communicate with each other very soon!


13 September 2017

Back To School with Red's Shed: colours!

Hi, Red here!
As many of you are now back to school, I thought now would be a great opportunity for me to teach you a little about me and my horsey friends! Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin… 
Whether you’re completely new to the world of horses, ponies, donkeys and mules, or you’re a bit of an expert, hopefully I might be able to help you learn something new.
So here we go with this week’s lesson… coat colours! Don’t worry, I won’t be testing you afterwards but if you like you can test your friends!
When you come along to see us at Redwings you will get to meet lots and lots of our four-legged friends who are a variety of colours. Here are the six most common ones that you can see at our visitor centres:
Bay horses have a brown body, but a black mane, tail and legs. If the horse appears to be dark brown, they are ‘dark bay’, and if they are light brown, they are ‘light bay’. This is the most common colour that you will see – Gulliver, who lives at our Aylsham visitor centre, is a very handsome example!
This is the second most common colour we have here at Redwings. Piebald horses have a mixture of black and white patches in their coat, with no regular pattern. Look out for Marmalade, a classic piebald and one of our Breakfast Club gang at our Oxhill Visitor Centre!
Skewbald horses have a very similar patterned coat to piebalds, but they have brown and white. Each skewbald has a unique pattern. Have a look at the picture of Victoria at Redwings Caldecott – doesn’t her coat look a little bit like a map of the world?
Did you know that if you see a horse that looks white, they are actually ‘grey’? Yes, this is quite confusing! The reason for this is that underneath their hair, the pigment of their skin is actually grey – so when you see Adoption Star Dylan at Redwings Oxhill, even though he looks white, we actually call him ‘grey’!
Here’s a fun fact to remember – there are very few truly black horses, and most are actually dark chestnut or dark bay. So how can we tell? True black horses have dark brown eyes, black skin, and their coats are completely black. Our very own ‘Black Beauty’, Maya, is a fine example. You can see her at Redwings Aylsham!
These horses are the same colour all over their bodies, either pale brown or dark ginger. They normally have a lighter-coloured mane or tail. Zippy, who you can see at our Ada Cole Visitor Centre is ‘chestnut’. Another fun fact for you: Suffolk Punches are never described as ‘chestnut’ – the word is spelt differently so they are ‘chesnut’!
There are lots of other wonderful colours to learn about too, including dun, appaloosa, palomino, roan and more! Find out more by downloading our fact sheet here. Why not print it out and bring it with you when you visit, and see how many colours you can spot?