WHAT I LEARNED AT THE HORSE RESCUE
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