WHAT I LEARNED AT THE HORSE RES­CUE

EQUUS - - Eq True Tale -

Vol­un­teer­ing at a res­cue is a great way to spend time with horses. But it’s not all brush­ing ponies on sunny af­ter­noons. I have vol­un­teered at Trust­ing Spirit Horse Res­cue in Orondo, Wash­ing­ton, for more than a year now. The work has been dirty, hard—and fun. Here are five things I learned:

• The work is phys­i­cally de­mand­ing. The daily main­te­nance of the horses and the grounds in­volves wheel­bar­rows, shov­els, rakes and ex­er­tion. It is a work­out.

• The horses pose be­hav­ioral chal­lenges you might never have seen be­fore. Res­cue horses may have histories you do not un­der­stand. Any horse can be un­pre­dictable, and those at the res­cue come from many back­grounds, of­ten trou­bled ones. Some­times, what you might con­sider nor­mal be­hav­ior around horses might trig­ger a fright­ened or ag­gres­sive re­sponse. They may kick or bite when you least ex­pect it. So al­ways ex­pect it.

• Pa­tience is vi­tal. Work­ing with res­cue horses re­quires pa­tience and per­se­ver­ance. They may need to be coaxed into a sim­ple brush groom­ing or sweet-talked into walk­ing on a lead—any num­ber of or­di­nary daily ac­tiv­i­ties can be tricky. It is frus­trat­ing at times, and even heart­break­ing, when they shy away from you de­spite your good in­ten­tions. Give it time.

• It takes a com­mit­ment. Rou­tines are im­por­tant to horses, and once you’ve

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