What's happening

15 February 2017

Horsey hello!

Love is in the air this week, and just like humans, horses form close bonds with their friends. Did you know that horses have a special way of showing their affection for each other?

If you’ve visited a Redwings Visitor Centre you may have been lucky enough to see our horsey friends enjoying a mutual groom. This is when a pair of horses use their teeth to scratch the back of another horse. It can look painful but horses actually love it!

Often the parts of a horse that are scratched during a mutual groom are areas that a horse couldn’t reach themselves so it’s a bit like having a friend get an annoying itch for you!

Mutual grooming is also a way that horses bond with each other. Horses like their own personal space, so by allowing a friend to stand very close and share their space they are telling them they like them. Just like you wouldn’t hug or kiss someone who wasn’t a friend, horses wouldn’t groom just any horse in their field. They will have important friends in their group and giving each other a groom is a good sign that two horses are bonded and might miss each other if they were separated.

Humans can also show how much they love a horse by giving it a ‘wither scratch’. This is when you scratch a horse at the base of their neck where their mane finishes. This imitates a mutual groom from a horsey friend and has even been shown to have a calming effect on the horse by reducing their heart rate.

If you get the right spot when giving a wither scratch the horses lip will go all wobbly and sometimes pinch together and start twitching as if they were grooming you back -  this means they are really enjoying it! 

Different ponies have different tickly points such as their chest and under the forelock. Horses enjoy this much more than patting because that’s not something they would naturally do to each other.

At Redwings, the farm and training teams use a wither scratch as a way to tell a horse they have been good. Horses like it so much that they are more likely to do the same thing again so it’s a good training tool – better than food because using food as a reward can cause horses to nip.

Next time you’re at a visitor centre, say a horsey hello with a wither scratch through the fence and you’ll love seeing how much the ponies enjoy it!


08 February 2017

Gorgeous baby donkey arrives at Redwings

We love donkeys here at Redwings so we are super excited to have three new long-eared arrivals, including an adorable two-week-old foal! 
The owner of this adorable family was struggling to look after them due to ill health so we offered a home to baby Amos, along with his mum Matilda and dad Jeremiah.
Donkeys have very complex care needs and love living in a group with friends, so we always offer them a home at the Sanctuary if they need one. 
Amos is so tiny that when they arrived he had to be carried from the horse box into his stable. After trying on his new teeny rug he quickly settled in and has been playing around in his shavings! 
Click here to see the whole family arriving!


31 January 2017

Ducks go ice skating!

It has been rather chilly recently and the ducks who live at Redwings HQ in Norfolk have been out ice skating on our pond! 
But don’t be quackers and try this yourself, frozen ponds can be very dangerous. 
Often the ice is much thinner than it looks and would crack if someone stood on it. The water is also so freezing that if you fell in, you definitely wouldn’t be able to swim. 
Thankfully, our ducks are very light and are used to the freezing water so were having lots of fun sliding around…and we had lots of fun watching them!


23 January 2017

Donkeys in Winter!

Pictured are the donkeys at Redwings Caldecott enjoying some fresh grass in the winter sun, but did you know donkeys actually don’t like winter very much?! This is because they originate from hotter countries and so are not as well-equipped as their horsey cousins to deal with cold, wet weather. 
Unlike horses, which have oily waterproof coats, donkeys hate rain as water doesn’t easily run off them and they can get really cold. Imagine standing out in the rain for a day with no waterproof jacket on! Their hooves are also prone to abscesses and other problems, which wet weather can aggravate. 
All our donkeys at Redwings have a shelter so they can go inside and be protected from the wind and rain on wintery days. However, our donkey herd at our Caldecott centre wouldn’t all fit in a field shelter as we have over 20 living together – so we have a big donkey barn for them! 
If you’re lucky enough to visit Redwings Caldecott you can see the huge barn which provides a nice protected place for our donkeys to snuggle up and keep warm! Click here to watch a cute video of the donks in the barn having a good ‘ole chat about the nasty weather!