A few posts ago, I mentioned that I would be looking to volunteer with Miracles in Motion, a horseback riding program for those with disabilities. At the time of writing that post, I still had about a month to wait. As Spring does every year, the time flew by, and last Friday I found myself rushing home from work and getting into my barn clothes. After not being in a barn for a number of years, I could not wait to get back and even putting on some raggedy jeans gave me joy.
Monthly orientation sessions are run to get volunteers informed with how the barn functions and expectations. From there, specialized trainings will take place, depending on what you’re interested in helping with. There are four categories: maintenance, barn chores, side walker and leader. Maintenance is pretty straight forward, you’re mending fences, working on new construction projects, and essentially being a handy-man/woman. Barn chores involve mucking stalls, raking the arena, dusting off the arena walls and mirrors, cleaning tack, changing water, etc. etc. etc., basically the behind the scenes stuff that keeps the barn working. Side walkers are people who are trained to help with certain holds in order to help riders perform their best. These people are there to help stabilize the rider and to help the instructor with tasks for the riders to perform. Leaders are in charge of monitoring the horse’s temperament and how they are interacting with the rider and other horses in the lesson. Training for the side walkers and leaders is a bit more intense and takes place at a separate orientation.
I was really impressed with the layout and organization of the barn, with each horse having a name tag and a short description of their gender, breed and if they were a program horse or not, as some of the horses in the barn are privately owned and boarded there. Another great tool for the farm staff and the volunteers is their use of google calendars. After orientation, volunteers are given the login information to the shared calendar where you can sign up for different lessons to help out all from the comfort of home. For those unable to help with lessons, like me, as they are run during working hours, there are always ways to help out and often weekend lessons too. I am really excited to have found out about this program and I can’t wait to take one of the more intensive trainings so I’m able to help out as much as I can. Volunteering: it’s not just for New Year’s Resolutions. 🙂