Volunteering with Horses: Good for you and good for others

July 11, 2012 – I have had the opportunity to work with a lot of volunteers in the horse industry. I have consulted with Girl Scout camp riding programs, horse rescue farms, state and local horse councils, and have given plenty of talks and workshops to adults working with therapeutic riding centers, 4-H Clubs and Pony Clubs. I am always amazed and humbled by the amount of dedication and enthusiasm these people have for their organizations. At the center of it all is a passion for horses.

Volunteers leading and spotting riders in Michigan’s Proud Equestrian Program.

Horse people always seem to find company with other horse people, and when we gather together for a good cause, the results can be fantastic. When I visit rescues or therapeutic centers, I always get more out of the experience than I gave. I leave the centers with more conviction to do a better job, whether it’s at work or caring for my own animals. Volunteering in the horse industry can also provide a horseless horseperson the opportunity to get involved with horses on a variety of levels. Many rescues and therapeutic riding centers rely on volunteer help for the day-to-day management of their horses. With some training, you can also become involved with the rehabilitation of a rescued horse or help someone ride a therapy horse. By giving your time, you can make a positive impact while enjoying horses and the company of other people who love them. To locate a rescue near you, go to A Home for Every Horse, at equine.com. Watch this testimonial from a volunteer at the??Therapeutic Horseback Riding program at the Achievement Centers’ Camp Cheerful located in Strongsville, Ohio. Youth Opportunities

Background checks are often required when working with youth. According to our Michigan equine extension specialist, Karen Waite, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities in the 4-H horse program. You don’t have to be a ?horse expert? to volunteer, you just have to enjoy horses, and yes ? it helps if you like kids as well. 4-H needs volunteers to help with ?horseless? projects like Quiz Bowls, Demonstrations and Judging Teams as well as supporting youth while they work with their own horses. There’s a good chance you will actually learn something new right along with the kids. Contact your local extension office or state extension youth specialist to find opportunities in 4-H or go to Information for Volunteers at 4-H.org.

Volunteering provides many ways to get involved in the horse industry. If you need to fill that horse-less void, consider working with others that share your passion and learn as you go. Learn More:? Discoverhorses.com has put together some great stories of volunteers along with contacts for getting involved. Find out more by going to Volunteer: Helping Horses and Horse People.Dr. Christine Skelly is an extension specialist at Michigan State University where she founded and directs My Horse University, an online horse management education program.? Dr. Skelly developed the free online course Purchasing and Owning a Horse 101, in partnership with Discover Horses. Follow My Horse University on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and take the FREE online course Purchasing and Owning a Horse 101.

Teaching kids to read in the Black Stallion Literacy Program at Michigan State University.

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