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Archive for the ‘Volunteer’ Category

Poudre Wilderness Volunteers

I am learning about so many different pony related tasks in Jenifer Morrissey’s book, the Partnered Pony! The most recent reference that I just had to look up was to the Poudre Wilderness Horse Patrol. A search online lead me to the Poudre Wilderness Volunteers website.

Poudre Wilderness Volunteers - Would you mix your Love of Trail Riding with Volunteer Work?

Poudre Wilderness Volunteers – Would you mix your Love of Trail Riding with Volunteer Work?

If you’re trying to build up your resume – why not consider a volunteer position that affords you the chance to do something with horses, too?

This particular opportunity is for those who can get to an area in the Northern Colorado Wilderness. If you’re a fan of hiking (or horse riding!) the trails, then it is possible to become a Poudre Wilderness Volunteer. Potential members are recruited throughout the year, with the application process closing at the end of March. Mandatory training for new members is carried out in May. Many members actively patrol the trails, but volunteers are also sought in the areas of fundraising, committee work, website development and maintenance, and office support.

Poudre Wilderness Volunteers

Of course, if you want to be able to do something that relates to the trail and horses, then patrolling of trails would be the way to go. Poudre Wilderness Volunteers range from 18 – 80, according to the PWV website. They boast a broad spectrum of professions, knowledge and skills. It states on their site:

“What we have in common is our love for the wilderness and a dedication to learning and teaching Leave-No-Trace principles. We make a commitment to “hike and ride with a purpose” at least six days during the summer months. We wear a uniform shirt and name badge and serve by assisting and educating the public and protecting and conserving the resource. Other tasks that we perform while hiking: keep records and report observations and violations to the USFS; report sign and other trail-safety issues; deal with illegal/improper campsites, fire rings, and trash; report downed trees blocking trails (if can’t remove by ourselves) and noxious weed infestations; perform minor trail maintenance; and make new friends, get some exercise, and visit beautiful places.”

Alongside the positions being volunteer-based, those participating also cover the cost of their own travel, supply their own equipment and horses. There are those volunteers who go out for a day at a time, whilst others do extended stock packing patrols in the high country. If this type of volunteer work appeals to you, check out their website!

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Profile On: Denise, Iron Gait Percherons

Denise Polydor-Beach is the founder of Iron Gait Percherons Draft Horse Rescue and Sanctuary.  She kindly took the time to answer some questions about her horse endeavours and this non profit horse organisation.  Perhaps if you’re in the area, Iron Gait Percherons would be of interest for volunteer work?

How much of your day/week is related to horses?
24 hours / 7 days a week – 365 days a year.  My husband and I are supervising the horses and on call for any emergency.

What is it exactly that you do?
Rescue, rehabilitation, re-home and provide sanctuary to 50 horses. Specializing in draft horse breeds and medically challenged horses.

Iron Gait Percherons

Iron Gait Percherons

In this field of work, is it possible to be a full time professional and earning a liveable income?
No. In just 2014 we personally provided $157,000 of our personal out of pocket funds towards the care of the rescue horses.  In 2015 we have donated even more than that due to lack of donations and sponsors.

What are the general steps taken to be employed in such a role?
Volunteers need to go through an orientation and fill out an application. We then place them in job roles according to their experience.

Favourite horse memory?
Watching near death emaciated and neglected horses regain their health, spirit and vitality return and watching them canter and be a horse again in pasture.

Future goals?
To continually upgrade the farm to provide the most comfortable environment for all of the Sanctuary.  To find financial help to purchase or lease more land surrounding our farm to expand and help as many horses as possible.

Best thing about your sport/profession?
Knowing that we have helped save over 200 needing horses lives in just 5 years of Iron Gait’s existence.

“Rescue the weak and needy; Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.” – Psalm 82:4

Sports Chaplaincy Australia

There are a lot of professional sports people around the world, some of whom work in horse industries – racing, eventing and even rodeo work.  Many sports areas make use of chaplains as:

A chaplain is a trusted, authentic, caring person.  They are trained in sports pastoral care to assist sports communities provide genuine care for their members.

Sports chaplains are known in Australia to be used in local Pony Clubs.  Chaplains’ roles include:

  • Club-wide pastoral care
  • Mentoring
  • Pastoral and spiritual care and support
  • Suicide awareness
  • Stress management support
  • Crisis management & recovery services
  • Home and hospital visitations
  • Grief, loss & bereavement care
  • Family care & support
  • Marriage & relationship preparation and care
  • Life skills support
  • Debriefing delivery
  • Referral support

Often these roles are volunteer, rather than paid.  If you have a Christian faith and are keen to reach out to the working horse world in your area, perhaps you’d consider the idea of volunteering for such a role.

For those interested, you may like to look into Sports Chaplaincy Australia and Australian Racing Christian Chaplaincy.

“The way to heaven is on horseback.” – Author Unknown

Horse Welfare at the Brooke

Whilst reading Whispering Back, I was pleased to find reference to the Brooke, an equine organisation that focuses on:

We are an international animal welfare organisation dedicated to improving the lives of working horses, donkeys and mules in some of the world’s poorest communities. We provide treatment, training and programmes around animal health and wellbeing, operating across Africa, Asia and Latin America.

If your passion is for horse welfare, particularly in third world countries, I encourage you to check out this organisation and the incredible work they do.  Perhaps you could even pursue the possibility of working with them or partnering financially?

Perhaps you may like to consider their varying volunteer opportunities.

“Not all those who wander are lost.” – JRR Tolkein

Volunteer at the 2015 Equine Lifestyle Festival

Equine Lifestyle Festival

Now I tend to push the possibility of volunteering at Equitana whenever it’s on – I got to see so much, learned so much and gained some great ideas for this blog!  Well this is a new venture for them.

Another equine related festival, it is being held in Hawkesbury, November of this year.  It’s being run from November 13 – 15 at the Hawkesbury Showgrounds and will cover education and competition. Volunteers are required for:

  • Competition
  • Customer service
  • Stables
  • Transfer
  • Floating / All Rounder

If you’re available over these dates and want an opportunity to add to your resume, experience and build up contacts, considering volunteering.

” Experienced riders are not prone to brag. And usually newcomers, if they start out being boastful, end up modest.” – C.J.J. Mullen

Rural Help at Hand

Well I’ve been reading Women of Spirit which was given to me last month as a birthday present, and it refers in one chapter to Rural Help at Hand.  This is a volunteer organisation that assist those in the Tasmania region who may find themselves in a city hospital on account of a rural accident.

Rural Help at Hand provides aid to patients in the form of:

  • Be a friend at a bedside, assisting when needed
  • Listen / advocate
  • Source reading material, music, etc., relevant to the patient’s needs and interests
  • Assist the family with transport, city accommodation, parking and other practical needs
  • Ensure as much as practicable, the normality of family life back home (e.g. children get to sporting events & music lessons, groceries are bought, animals fed etc)
  • Coordinate practical assistance to the family on their property
  • Assist the family in finding solutions to practical problems that may occur with a patient’s return home

As it says on their website, if you have an interest in volunteering, they are on the lookout for volunteers who will:

  • Contact and connect with rural patients in city hospitals
  • Have a rural background
  • Have an understanding of the needs and way of life of rural patients
  • Possess an appreciation of the issues faced by rural families coping with a medical crisis
  • Often have experience of a disabling injury illness or condition

“For the wonderful brain of man, however mighty its force, had never achieved its lordly plan, without the aid of a horse.” – Ella Wilcox

Profile On: Virginia Slachman, Writer and Thoroughbred Rescue Volunteer

Author Virginia Slachman kindly took the time to answer some questions about her writing and work with the rescue of thoroughbreds after racing.

The Lost Ode by Virginia Slachman

What is it exactly that you do?
I’m a writer and college English professor by formal training, but I’ve always loved horses so I also spend quite a lot of time being involved in thoroughbred rescue, taking care of ex-racehorses who’ve been injured or otherwise removed from the racetrack. In fact, the setting for my mystery series – The Lost Ode is the first book – takes place on a stud farm in Kentucky and involves the horse racing industry.

I went to live for a time at Margaux Farm, a stud farm in Midway, Kentucky, to do research for this book. I was able to tag along with the stallion groom, the mares groom, the vet as he did checks on pregnant mares, and so on. Steve Johnson, then the owner of Margaux, was so generous to me, opening up his farm and allowing me to be privy to all aspects of how Kentucky racehorses are bred and trained. And of course I also got to meet the beautiful thoroughbreds, the people, and learn about the history as well as the darker side of the race industry.

That experience made The Lost Ode a joy to write because I could incorporate accurately a true “behind the scenes” look at a very high dollar-flashy industry. All aspects of breeding, training (and doing away with!) racehorses, is accurate in the book.

It also got me interested in helping these beautiful horses after their racing career is over. I have learned an enormous amount about how to care for and transition horses from the track to second careers. Some of them, of course, are too injured to be adopted, so the many rescue facilities dotting the United States provide a home and refuge for horses that otherwise might well be slaughtered.

How much of your day/week is related to horses?
I usually spend from three to four days with the thoroughbreds, (though there are other breeds of horse at these rescue facilities, too), doing everything from feeding, turn-out, grooming, mucking out stalls, transporting horses, medicating wounds, riding, exercising, massaging, or assisting when they are shoed or have their teeth floated, and transitioning them to new careers. . . the duties are varied and, essentially, the chores to be done depend on what the need is each day.

Virginia and a Granddaughter of Secretariat

Thoroughbreds are very versatile; we’ve placed horses as show jumpers, barrel racers, trail horses, companions for young children and older adults, and as dressage horses. They’re intelligent and athletic and able to emotionally bond in a way that makes them incredible companions.

I love every minute I spend with the horses and, as an added bonus, being immersed in this world makes the people, and settings, and plots for my mystery series quite authentic.

In this field of work, is it possible to be a full time professional and earning a liveable income?
The great thing about volunteering is that you get to be very active in all aspects of horse care. As with most volunteer, service organizations there is always a need for help. Because of this, you can really get a feel for what is entailed in different aspects of horse care. Maybe you love grooming horses, or maybe you find that farrier work really interests you, or massage, or exercising or horse training . . . maybe the veterinary aspect of wound care or maintaining the health of horses piques your interest.

When you volunteer, you get hands-on experience that can open the door for more education, or stepping into a paid position at a stable or breeding farm. For example, until I followed a farrier around, I didn’t realize how important hoof care can be; a farrier can actually aid in correcting conformation problems through horseshoe design.

One woman I know went on to work in artificial insemination . . . the jobs in the horse industry are multitudinous.  Volunteering at a facility helps get you into the horse world in an active way so you can see what might be satisfying to you.

What are the general steps taken to be employed in such a role?
As I’ve noted, the first step is to find a place where you can volunteer. Depending upon your level of expertise, you can step right in or take things more slowly, learning as you go. When I began volunteering, I knew next to nothing about horses, but now I’m comfortable in pretty much any circumstance involving them.

You get to learn their signals, how to be safe around them, how to bond (often called “hooking on”) and care for them. You learn their personalities and what treats they like –I know one stallion who loves root beer and cheesecake! So, if you have an interest in horses, jump right in!

Author Virginia Slachman

Favourite horse memory?
What I love about working with thoroughbreds is how courageous they are. Many, though certainly not all, of the horses I’ve known in rescue have been abused. Some will not let you come close, some are head shy from being beaten, others have serious physical injuries. I’ve known horses who’ve had a fractured leg or knee and several who are missing an eye.

Horses who’ve been mistreated have every reason to be mean, angry, spiteful, even dangerous. But none of the thoroughbreds I’ve known have reacted that way. Rather, they will withdraw and not let you near them. They are very social animals, but my experience is they’d rather avoid contact than harm you. But what amazes me is they are very willing to forgive us humans, and given love and care, learn to trust us again. Never, ever doubt the power of gentleness, love, and respect to earn the trust and affection of a horse. I’ve seen it time and time again.

One horse’s story comes to thought. This mare came to the facility I was working at after being abandoned in a field. She hadn’t been fed, and was terrified of absolutely everything. You couldn’t approach her; she’d flee as if for her life. A beautiful gray with a sweet eye, black mane and tail, she was living in a pasture with a herd, but could not bring herself to join even those of her own kind.

One winter day, I found her lying down in the pasture; she’d cut her leg fairly seriously so she needed vet care. With gentleness and working very slowly, I was able to get a halter on her and, with a lot of patience, get her from the pasture to the lay-up barn. Though injured, she raced around and around in her stall, which was not helping her leg wound. At that time, there was a twenty-eight year old gelding living in the barn who I termed our “therapist” because if he sensed any horse needed a little TLC, he was always right there to help out. When he saw this mare, he went into the empty stall next to her and stuck his nose to the bars until she stopped circling and came over. They stood nose-to-nose, calmly, until the vet came and took care of the mare’s wound.

She had an extended stay in the barn to recuperate. Because of that, all the volunteers got to interact with her. Eventually, she let us groom her, walk her calmly on a lead rope, feed her treats, and generally just hang out with her. Once she was fully healed and turned back out into the pasture, she joined the herd. Now if you walk out into the field, she’ll come right over for a carrot!

Like so many thoroughbreds I’ve worked with, this mare had a lot of issues to deal with. But she worked through them and learned once again to trust humans. As I said, horses have tremendous courage and the capacity to forgive—I’ve learned a lot from them.

Future goals?
I’d love to keep learning about and caring for thoroughbreds, and am very excited about the mystery series I’m working on. The Lost Ode is available on Amazon.  And I’m just now finishing up the revision of the second book in the series.

Best thing about your sport/profession?
The horses. The best thing about the work I do is getting to know and care for the horses. I especially love watching traumatized horses regain their confidence and trust as well as seeing these wonderful creatures find new, loving homes and a second career off the racetrack.

“No hour of life was lost spent in the saddle.” – Author unknown

Free Equine Resource

Hi everyone! Sometimes the easiest way to get the word out about a product or service is to provide one for free. In this way, people are able to get a feel for the product from a particular individual/business and decide if they would be interested in purchasing anything further.

Christine Meunier’s Points of the Horse Activity

So in light of this, I have another free equine resource on offer to:

  • educators
  • students (we’re all students when it comes to horses: you can’t stop learning)
  • someone who is happy to give me feedback on a free product

If you head along to this activity at TeachersPayTeachers.com and download it, give it a go!

This particular resource focuses on the genetics of colour in horses. There are some simple scenarios using common coat colours of horses, and a little worksheet to be able to determine the likelihood that when two horses are bred, the foal will be bay, or chestnut or another colour. Why not take a look?
While you’re at it, if you love to test yourself on points of the horse and haven’t yet seen this free resource, take a look at this one too!

And if you are an educator with resources that you feel others could benefit from or are interested in making use of already created resources and activities, why not consider signing up to TeachersPayTeachers?  It’s free!

“Even the greenest horse has something to teach the wisest rider.” – Author unknown

Riding for the Disabled Opportunity Shop

An RDA Opportunity Shop

So I’ve been up in Wagga recently for my equine science degree at CSU.  Hubby and I were out for a walk, me entering every opportunity shop possible to scout for horse books (I found three really cheap!). One of the opportunity shops had an RDA sign on the top, which really surprised me!

I’m used to opp shops raising funds for a particular cause, but this often seems to be church run shops.  It was great to see that there is one in this town that works to support the great cause that is Riding for the Disabled Australia (RDA).

I volunteered for 2 years in an RDA closer to where I used to live and loved it.  If you can’t volunteer at an actual RDA, I believe that volunteering in a shop where they raise funds for RDA is the next best thing!

“Horse people are stable people.” – author unknown

Volunteer at Equitana, Sydney 2013

Equitana is being held in Sydney, Australia this year and the volunteering application process is now open!  I volunteered one year in Melbourne and had an absolute ball.  As always, there are different areas in which you can put yourself forward to help out:

  • Competition – assistance with competition set ups and running
  • Education – assistance with running of educational areas
  • Exhibition – assistance with the operation of information stand & customer service
  • General Office Administration – assisting organisers as required, may include VIP assistance
  • Evening programs in Grand Pavilion Indoor Arena – assistance with ushering and arena set up
  • Stables & Breed Village – assistance with general stable duties
  • Transfer Team – assistance with escorting horses and their handlers throughout venue
  • “Floater” – combination of all above mention duties

Equitana is to be held November 7 – 10, at the Sydney Showground (1 Showground Road, Sydney Olympic Park, NSW 2127).  Perhaps you may like to take a look at the volunteer page on the Equitana site for more details.

“For the wonderful brain of man
However mighty its force
Had never achieved its lordly plan
Without the aid of a horse.” – Ella Wilcox

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