One of the greatest ways to gain experience and build contacts is to volunteer. In the equine industry there are many different initiatives that you can volunteer for. Some you will need experience for, others it’s all about availability and enthusiasm! And many offer training if you’re going to volunteer your time. So let’s take a look at 3 equine initiatives you can volunteer for.
Horse riding organisations and businesses. There are many places that are happy to provide you with training – maybe even riding lessons – if you volunteer your time and energy. Your local riding school may be up for this!
In Australia, Riding for the Disabled runs on volunteers. As a 17 year old, I spent 1 day a month volunteering my time to help groom, tack up and lead ponies for young disabled riders. It was an incredible experience and a great way to help out.
The Equitarian Initiative. Equus Education has explored this incredible setup. As someone who knows horses and particularly has skills regarding their health, you can volunteer your time and knowledge for third world countries.
For locations that often make their livelihood from their horses, their health is important. Ignorance and poverty can detrimentally affect how horses, donkeys and mules are cared for.
This setup focuses on visiting third world countries, educating owners and caring for the equines under their care. Consider farriery work, worming, vaccinations, dental work, bandaging and managing parasites. All of these areas and more are covered depending on the experience of the volunteers involved.
Horse events. In Australia we have a massive horse event known as Equitana. There are many different events relating to horses throughout the world. They may focus on horse riding, clothing, education, health care or something else.
Many of these events run on volunteers. This may involve accepting entry tickets, directing people, moving horses between locations, manning stalls or even serving food. Perhaps a volunteer needs to coordinate everyone else who is volunteering their time and skills!
So there you have it. 3 equine initiatives you can volunteer for. If you make yourself aware of all the equine volunteering possibilities locally and even overseas, this will help you to determine what you may be able to do to build your horse resume and skills. Just think of the experience you’ll gain and the contacts you will make!
Want to explore other possibilities? Check out the volunteer category of posts on this site.
I recently found out about a retired husband and wife couple who drive around Australia and support churches as they’re able to. They stop in for a short period and help with church services and tending to the congregation’s needs. They use their passions and skills to help churches that are between pastors or need help in other ways. And I got to thinking, why not an equine volunteer setup that does something similar?
Retired and with a caravan, these people can come and go as they please. They are currently helping out 2 days a week at my local church. They then use the other 5 days to explore the area. Perhaps the equine volunteer work would run differently. Maybe similar to tasks in the Farm Army, volunteers could make themselves available for the length of a project – like a yearling sale preparation or fencing a paddock. In return for their labour, they are maybe provided with food and accommodation. They get to build on their resume whilst offering their skills and energy. And just maybe, they get to travel the state or country whilst doing so.
I would love to check out different horse properties this way! I am sure as with many horse related activities, a waiver of sorts would need to be signed. This would be prior to commencement of work. But how wonderful would it be if such an equine volunteer program existed? As a struggling or newly establishing horse business or property, you could put in a request for a volunteer/s and outline the work that would be needed. Then for a set period of time you have some hands to help out with a horse related project!
“But what truly horsey girls discover in the end is that boyfriends, husbands, children, and careers are the substitute – for horses.” ― Jane Smiley
Recently I saw reference to Derriere Equestrian having had a successful time at Equidays in New Zealand. Curious I checked out the event to find out what it was exactly. Maybe you’re familiar with Australia’s Equitana or you know about other horse events around the world. Well here’s another one to add to your calendars!
It’s too late for 2017, seeing as the event was run over October. But if ever you’re planning a visit to New Zealand, perhaps you’d like to time it with the running of Equidays. This event has an equestrian focus in particular. As it says on their site:
“Equidays is New Zealand’s premier equine event, featuring three-plus days of exciting equestrian action. With over 40 hours of clinics each day, elite competitions, three night shows and over 200 exhibitors, Equidays is a must for equine enthusiasts everywhere.
The four pillars of Equidays – educate, equip, empower and entertain – come together to bring you the very best in equestrian.”
The show features clinicians, dressage, show jumping and night shows. So if you’re an equestrian fanatic, it may be worth checking out future Equidays events! You can keep up to date on their events via Facebook You may also be interested to know there is a South Island Edition.
Equidays Equestrian Event
If like me you love a horse event for the ability to add to your resume, then you’ll be pleased to know that they take volunteers. The submission forms are currently closed off as the 2017 event has just happened. You can keep it in mind for future events, however!
For those who are looking for accommodation for the event, they may be pleased to know that camping is available on site! This may help to keep the travelling budget low 😉 Planning a trip to NZ in the next couple of years? Why not try to date it around an Equidays event?
I often listen to Vision Radio and hear an advert that looks for agricultural volunteers. The Farm Army has been created to help Australian farmers in many varying capacities. The idea is that people with skills, enthusiasm and time can come along and help out on farms in areas that they may be able to do so.
A contract fencer for example may be able to volunteer some time to help a particular farmer to setup a new fence line. Someone who knows how to check and feed stock can farm sit for a week whilst the farm owners have some time off. It’s hay season and extra pairs of hands to stack bales of hay in exchange for a meal are welcomed. A knowledgeable horse person is needed to feed stock and keep an eye on pregnant mares. I love this concept! So why not something similar that relates to equine volunteer work?
The Farm Army and Equine Volunteer Work
Firstly, there are some available jobs on Farm Army that do involve horses. So if you’re an Aussie or thinking of visiting Australia for a spell, why not have a look at their website? You can even sign up for notifications!
Secondly, any place where you can build up horse experience and skills can be great for your resume! Plus volunteering to be available is a networking opportunity that can also land you paid work in time. So if you are in Australia, make note of this site for potential holidays/chances to do something horsey!
And if you’re not, consider the concept and how it may be applied in your local area. What if there was a website that focused on horse properties that needed volunteers? This could be in exchange for a meal and somewhere to sleep. Sounds pretty appealing to me! Perhaps you’re the person to setup such an initiative!
I was interested to recently discover an equine non profits website. This network focuses specifically on equine non profits that are located in the North Carolina region. As it says on their website,
‘the mission of this project is to promote and support communication and collaboration among North Carolina’s horse related nonprofit organizations.’
I was amazed to learn through this website, that there are over 100 horse related nonprofit organisations within the North Carolina area – wow! The website has been created to be an interaction point for all of these organisations. It’s a place they can go online to gain information and help in relation to horse focused non profits. The site has been set up by Equine Career Network founder, Kelsey Sullivan and is run in conjunction with the North Carolina Horse Council.
The website provides details on the various organisations within the North Carolina counties. The 100+ organisations cover the areas of therapeutic riding, equine assisted, therapy, rescue, racehorse rehoming and preservation.
Equine Non Profits in North Carolina
I am blown away by the number of organisations set up in the NC area. For someone who wants to learn about setting up and running a non profit that relates to horses, volunteering at any number of facilities like these would be of benefit! As you can see, you can focus your interests to a particular area, such as therapeutic riding. Or, maybe you’d rather focus your energies where you see there is still a great need. Non profits are a great way to offer your time and energy through volunteering. They can also provide you with much information and skills as you make yourself available to them.
If you want to set up such an organisation in the NC area, then keep this website address handy. It not only provides contact details of over 100 setups in the North Carolina area, it also provides details on grants and emergency resources, as well as agriculture extension office details.
I love to learn about resources like this! If there isn’t one for your local area, then maybe you could start to collate similar information for it? This website came about from a Masters Thesis project – cool!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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
Pastoral and spiritual care and support
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
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.
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?
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:
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