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24 September 2018

Summer Club - Mini Donkey Experts

Hi, Red again!
We’re getting close to the end of all the Summer Club updates, can you believe it?! Time for the penultimate one – mini donkey expert.
For this session our attendees had to identify how donkeys are different to horses and ponies, both physically and in terms of their behaviour and care needs. My donkey friends loved that a session revolved around them – they were very spoilt by you lovely lot!  
First, a spot the difference between horses and donkeys. Here is some of the answers they came up with:
- Donkeys’ coats feel drier compared to a horse’s because donkeys do not have as much oil in their coats. This also means they are not as waterproof so need help to stay dry in the rain. Donkeys originate from Africa, therefore have adapted to a warmer and drier climate.
- Donkeys’ tails are a lot thinner than horses’ because in the wild they do not need to protect their back end from the pouring rain and in the desert a big, thick tail would be too hot! 
- Donkeys’ coat colours are lighter than horses’. Their light tan and grey colours help them stay camouflaged in the desert. 
In the donkeys’ paddocks our mini experts also noticed there were more toys, compared to some of the other paddocks. This is because donkeys are naturally inquisitive and love to explore and play. By providing toys we are encouraging their natural behaviour and are keeping them happy and entertained, this is called providing enrichment for them. 
Our farm team at Redwings are very creative with how they make our toys; we can have treats hidden in objects such as balls and boxes, even welly boots! We can have carrots or salt licks hanging from ropes on fences for us to try and grab. Even the company of our friends counts as enrichment as it makes time fly because we’re having fun. 
Our mini donkey experts got the chance to make some toys with the farm teams and watch my friends enjoy a treat. They got to make carrot ropes and treat boxes using horse handling equipment and recycling cardboard boxes. My donkey buddies told me it was great fun trying to find their food hidden in straw-filled boxes and up on the ropes. Although once they found their food I hear it didn’t last long! Hehe they must have been hungry! Although all this talk of food is making me hungry now!
Thanks for brightening my friends’ day mini donkey experts! We’ll catch up soon to hear about the final Summer Club Session - Mini Farm Team Member. 
If you want to see some of my friends having a good time click on this link to see donkeys Harry and Wiggins playing around with an enrichment toy: 


19 September 2018

Summer Club - Mini Field Officers

Hey, it’s your pal Red.
Here to update you on Summer Club session 4…Mini Field Officer. To be a field officer you need to know all about horse care to determine whether you think a horse like me is happy, healthy and safe. 
If a member of the public is concerned about a horse they can get in contact with us, via phone or email, and one of our staff will visit the horse to check on it. These members of staff are our ‘Field Officers’. They will look at the horse as well as its field or stables and, if they are worried, they will try locate the owner to discuss how to improve the horse’s health and home. If no owner can be found and we are worried about a horse’s health we will try and get some help for it or bring it in to Redwings so we can make it better. 
When checking a horse out in the field there are many attributes to look out for such as:
- Can you see any immediate signs of a horse in pain, such as any wounds or          walking difficulties?
- Do they have food and water? If so, is it fresh and a sufficient amount?
- Do they have any shelter such as trees and hedges or manmade shelters?
- Do they have any boundaries or fencing? If so, are they safe and secure?
- Are the alone or in a group? 
As you can see there’s a lot to think about when checking and judging an equine’s health and safety and this list is only the start! Let’s see what our mini field officers had to do when they were confronted with a hazardous paddock….
….Our mini field officers at Summer Club had to help the farm team decide whether a horse would need to be rescued or would be safe enough to carry on living where they are, perhaps giving the owner some help, advice and guidance, to avoid such circumstances happening again. Some paddocks had been set up with open gates, rope and haynets over the floor, mucking out tools lying around; all sorts of problematic areas. My buddies were peering over the fence to see how they all got on and I have been told they did a great job in identifying all the hazards in the paddocks and recognising if all the horse’s needs had been met. As you can imagine a field officers job is very hard and demanding so we are very lucky to have them and are thankful for everyone they have helped rescue so far.
If you would like more information on horses’ needs and to see some good and bad examples of this then follow this link:  
I’ll be back to update you on the Mini Donkey Expert session soon.


10 September 2018

Summer Club - Mini Dentists

Hey, Red here.
Time for another Summer Club update, this week’s topic…the mini dentist session. To be an equine dentist, our mini dentists had to learn all about horse’s teeth. So let’s get our gnashers into the basics!
An adult horse can have between 36-40 teeth, which an equine dentist will check once a year or more. We have incisors, canines and molars just like you. Our teeth are different sizes for different reasons; our incisors are the big teeth at the front of our mouths, these are for grabbing and cutting our food, like grass. 
Even though we are herbivores (plant-eating animals) we do have canine teeth. However, these are very small and absent in many mares as we do not eat meat and so have no need for them. 
Some horses can develop wolf teeth! Yes, you did hear that right! These were useful when my ancestors used to munch on twigs but now we modern equines are grazers not browsers (eat grasses rather than twigs and bushes) so our wolf teeth have evolved to be smaller or absent, as we have no use for them now. 
Finally, our molars are the big teeth at back of our mouths useful for grinding up our food into smaller pieces, making it easier for us to swallow. 
Once our mini dentists had learnt the basics they put the theory into practice by looking at a patient. A few of my buddies flashed their best smile for them so they could identify specific teeth and evaluate the condition of them. 
The mini dentists then helped the farm teams to make haynets for my friends’ dinner. They worked in teams to get the weights of the haynets right and some had a competition to see who was the fastest! Some of my friends are on special diets so being accurate with the food weight and type is very important. It can make a horse very poorly if it’s wrong. So thanks for the help mini dentists, hope you all had fun! 
I’ll find out what our mini field officers got up to and let you know soon…


30 August 2018

Summer Club - Mini Farriers

Hello, it’s Red again. 
I have an update on the mini farrier’s session. Looks like we had some returnees from the last session and some new recruits too, so let’s take a look at what they learnt… 
…Farriers specialise in horsey hoof care. They need to look after the condition and shape of the hoof so we horses, ponies and donkeys can move around comfortably. To stay happy and healthy, it’s best our feet are checked every six to eight weeks. Farriers are multi-skilled, needing horse care knowledge as well as blacksmith skills; if they notice we are in pain they can help the farm team and vets identify the problem.
Unfortunately, many of my friends rescued by Redwings had poorly feet and it can take a long time to correct these problems with regular treatment. We’re very fortunate to have our farm teams, vet teams and farriers to help us on our hooves!
To become a hoof expert our mini farriers had the help of the farm team and my buddies; they learnt what special tools farriers need, as well as what they do and what they look like - such as hoof nippers (to trim the hoof wall) and rasps (to smooth the edges of the hoof wall). 
With hoof problems you need to recongise if a horse is in pain and if so where the pain is. To do this our mini farriers watched a trotting demonstration to identify:
- How are they placing each foot?
- How high are they lifting their feet?
- What is their stride length? 
- Are they nodding?
- Is this normal for them?
Finally, they had to prepare a stable and identify what is needed to make a poorly horse comfortable. It is important for a horse with hoof problems to be kept in a smaller area so they don’t need to move around so much and so they are easily accessible to a vet and/or farrier.
That sounds like a lot of work but our mini farriers did a great job! Next time we go from hoof experts to teeth experts! Stay tuned to hear what our mini dentists get up to.  
Want to do a hoof colouring activity? Then follow the link, to learn more about what’s going in inside a horse’s hoof!