Tuesday, January 18, 2022

A mule in a million: Bransby Horses celebrates oldest resident

One of Bransby Horses’ oldest residents Ebony the mule celebrates turning 30 this month, making her the oldest and second longest staying equine at the charity.

Ebony – who is the offspring of a female horse/pony (mare) and a male donkey (jack) – was wandering the streets of Gainsborough in Lincolnshire when Bransby Horses were called to her rescue back in 1992.

It wasn’t clear if she had escaped from a field or been dumped but, when no one claimed her, the equine welfare charity were there to make sure she received all the love and care she needed.

Bransby Horses were only able to care for Ebony and the thousands of other sick and abandoned horses just like her thanks to the kind donations of its supporters.

Ebony’s character and cute looks have earned her legendary status and she is a firm favourite with staff and supporters alike.

Visitor Centre Team Leader, Shell, said: “Everyone loves Ebony. She is such a cheeky little lady who doesn’t act her age at all. She has a distinctive voice when she brays and I can tell it’s her just from the noise she makes.

“Ebony has very specific care needs, which is why she is in a herd with equines with similar needs. For example, Ebony only has a few teeth and needs her feed adjusting for this so that she can continue to eat well. She needs more than one rug to keep her warm and dry because a mule’s coat is not as waterproof as a horse’s.”

During her early years at Bransby Horses, Ebony was trained to pull a small cart to help with weight management and keep her busy.

Shell added: “She’s a very intelligent mule and when she was younger she liked to be doing things rather than just grazing in a field. She’s retired now and is happy playing and relaxing in her paddock with her little herd.”

On the big day Ebony was presented with an equine friendly cake made from grass nuts, carrots and molasses, which she shared with her companions, 26-year-old Shetland pony Cinderella and 21-year-old Penelope, who is the charity’s only other mule.

Ebony was also a Sponsorship Star for many years and still has many supporters who like to send her treats, such as carrots, with their regular donations.

You can visit Ebony on the Visitor Centre Yard at Bransby Horses, LN1 2PH, 10am – 4pm, Wednesday to Sunday, open seven days a week during school holidays.

So, what is a mule?

  • A mule is a cross between a female horse and a male donkey.
  • They are unable to reproduce and have their own offspring due to their odd numbers of chromosomes.
  • Ebony is slightly above the average age for mules but some have been known to live for up to 50 years.
  • Like donkeys, mules can be very stoic and hide their pain. If something is wrong, it can be difficult to tell as they can tend not to show signs of discomfort.
  • Mules can be ridden like horses.
  • Mules are generally less stubborn and more intelligent than donkeys.
  • Bransby Horses has two mules who can be visited by members of the public; Ebony and Penelope.

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