What's happening

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.
 

 

05 January 2018

Redwings Oxhill will reopen tomorrow

Redwings Oxhill will reopen tomorrow (Saturday) 10am to 4pm! 
 
We're delighted to report that we have received the all clear and quarantine has been lifted at our Warwickshire Visitor Centre. We look forward to welcoming visitors as usual!

 

05 January 2018

Redwings Oxhill is closed today and this weekend

We’re really sorry to have to tell you that Redwings Oxhill is currently closed to visitors as a precaution following a potential case of contagious disease.
 
It’s really important that we protect our residents against any possible risk, and so until we are certain, we have to restrict all movements on and off the site. Tests are underway to identify the disease, but until we know the results and in the best interests of our four-legged friends we have decided to close the visitor centre.
 
We’ll keep you posted with more details as we get them and let you know when Redwings Oxhill will reopen. In the meantime, our horsey and donkey residents would like to say thanks for your understanding and they look forward to seeing you soon.