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18 January 2018

Red's Shed: How do horses cope in the winter?

Hi!
 
January is here and so is the winter – brrrr! Have you ever wondered how horses are able to live happily in winter months?
 
It might not surprise you, but horses are much better at coping with the colder weather than humans. Here’s why…
 
Layer of fat – Like many grazing mammals, we gain weight in the summer by eating lots of nutritious food, so that we can survive the harsher winter conditions (although the goal is to have the same healthy amount of fat all year round). This means that for healthy and fit horses, we are perfectly equipped to get through winter without the need for extra food or rugs – clever, huh?
Skin – Our skin has two layers: a waterproof layer, and an insulating layer. Our skin also has special oils that makes water run off like a duck’s back. So it’s important that we aren’t washed too much in the winter, otherwise it may strip us of essential oils and we could catch a chill, being less waterproof!
Coat – If you visit Redwings over the winter, you’ll see that we grow extra fluffy winter coats. Our coats are really clever, because they have special layers especially designed to trap pockets of air. This insulating layer keeps the heat in and the cold out. The hair also points downwards, which means that rain and snow is deflected away from the skin – very important for staying warm.
Nose – Have you ever been out in the cold and noticed that your nose is freezing? We horses keep our noses warm with lots of warm blood, pumped around the nostrils, as the skin is more exposed and less hairy than the rest of us.
Eyelashes – Next time you visit, have a good look at our eyelashes. You’ll see that they are nice and thick, so they are really good at protecting our eyes from strong winds and freezing temperatures.
Mane and feathers – These areas of long hair are naturally designed to keep our head and legs warm. Put your hands underneath a long mane and you can feel just how warm it is, just like a blanket!
Group huddles – When it’s really cold, we horses huddle together to make sure that we conserve energy and don’t lose too much heat.
 
There are also ways our carers help us to stay fit and healthy in the colder months at the Sanctuary:
 
Daily checks – At Redwings, we’re checked four times a day to make sure that we’re fit and healthy.
Shelter – Field shelters and natural shelters like trees and hedgerows help protect us from harsh weather.
Providing the right rug when needed – For some horses, such as those who are very young, old or unwell, or those who are clipped because they do a lot of exercise, they we may need a little extra help keeping warm in especially cold temperatures, so you might see them wearing a rug. It’s also important to make sure rugs are taken off when temperatures rise, perhaps during the day, so we don’t get too hot.
Fat checking – Every two weeks our carers do something called “body condition scoring” where they make sure that we have enough stores to get through the winter, but at the same time ensuring that we don’t get too fat.
Providing the correct nutritious hay – It’s very important that humans make sure we’re eating the right food so we have the energy we need for the winter. And that they spread fresh hay around if it has snowed as it’s not always easy to find underneath!
Ensuring a plentiful water supply – It’s also important that the water we have isn’t frozen over in very cold weather and is still drinkable.
 
So next time you visit us in winter, all wrapped up in coats, scarves and gloves, remember just how clever horses are at coping with the cold temperatures! 
 

 

09 January 2018

Amersham: ten years on

Today is a big day for us here at Redwings. It’s exactly ten years since one of our biggest ever rescues at a place in Buckinghamshire, near Amersham, called Spindle Farm.
 
This was a rescue that involved saving almost 100 terrified and very poorly horses and donkeys, who were stranded in mud and packed into barns, with nothing to eat. Very sadly, there were another 30 who hadn’t survived and were laying around them.
 
On the 9th January 2008, we took 21 of the most needy horses and donkeys to our Horse Hospital for emergency treatment. Over the next few years, we offered a safe home to a total of 60 horses and donkeys, with a further six foals born to rescued mares. 
 
You can see many of the survivors when you come and see us at Redwings today, and you’ll be able to read more about their rescue in a special Young Reds magazine, which will be sent to our 8-15 year-old members at the beginning of March.
 
In the meantime, you can find out more about the rescue here.
 

 

08 December 2017

Red's Shed: What happens at Redwings on Christmas Day?

Hello, it’s Red here. There’s only a week to go until Christmas now, so I hope that you’re feeling festive and that Santa has put you on the ‘nice’ list, so you get lots of great presents on Christmas Day!
 
While you get up early and rush to see what Santa has left under the tree, did you know that we have our own Christmas Day celebration here at Redwings too?
 
Just like all my four-legged friends, we still need looking after, so my Redwings pals are around to feed us, make sure we’re OK and do all of our normal daily things, like mucking out. Everyone is very festive though, and we’re so lucky because we get lots of extra special Christmas cuddles too. Sometimes, we even have a bit of a boogie to Christmas songs with our carers!
 
Sadly, some of my poorly pony pals will have to spend Christmas Day at the Redwings Horse Hospital. My Redwings friends are here every day though, and they make sure that we’re all safely looked after, so we don’t have to spend Christmas Day alone.
 
While you won’t be able to come and visit us on Christmas Day, we would love to see you this Friday, Saturday or on Christmas Eve for lots of Christmas cuddles! Plus, there’s loads going on as #WeLoveDonkeys is back, so you can find out more about my long-eared friends with lots of fun and games planned! You can find out more about what’s going on at the Redwings visitor centres here!
 
 

 

08 December 2017

Red's Shed: Tickles, not treats this Christmas!

Hello, it’s Red here!
 
My horsey pals and I love having a fuss made of us when you come to visit us at Redwings. For us, there’s nothing better, because we just love to feel loved, and all of us at Redwings can’t wait to see you!
 
This Christmas, you’ll be tucking into all sorts of treats from mince pies to chocolate, but for us horsey residents it’s really important that we stick to our normal diet. 
 
And just like humans, too many treats can be bad for our health, here’s why…
 
Horses can’t be sick
 
Have you ever eaten something that made you sick afterwards? That’s your body’s way of getting the bad food out of your system. Ewwww! Did you know, though, that us horses can’t actually be sick? That means that food that is bad for us isn’t removed, which then means it can actually make us more ill.
 
Horses have sensitive intestines
 
If you feed us something we’re not used to, it can easily upset our digestion and it can even lead to a very serious condition called colic.
 
Horses need a carefully managed diet
 
Some horses can put on weight very easily and even just a little extra feed can cause us problems. Many of the horses at Redwings are on a very careful diet, because if we do become overweight, we’re more likely to have other health problems, just like humans!
 
Horses need to look after their teeth
 
You know how chocolate and sugary drinks are bad for your teeth? Horses need to look after their gnashers too, especially the older residents here at Redwings. You might be surprised to learn that horses have to see the dentist at least once a year, and we wouldn’t want to get into trouble for having bad teeth! If that happens, we can find it more difficult to chew, which can then cause other problems.
 
This Christmas, the best treat that we can get is a hug and a “wither scratch”!