Our Volunteers usually come once a week for one hour. The hour is split in two with the first half spent doing chores and the second half working ponies. Volunteers help in a variety of ways. Here’s just a few...
Socializing the ponies by walking, petting, grooming and reading to the ponies. Our ponies meet lots of new people on a regular basis. Our volunteers prepare them for meeting strangers by introducing them to a variety of voices, faces and touches. We touch our ponies all over their bodies with different levels of firmness so they aren't surprised when meeting someone new.
Walking ponies to the park nearby and practicing going in and out of tight spaces around the playground equipment. Ponies are naturally nervous about being trapped so we need to help them see that they can trust us and we won't do anything that will jeopardize their safety. This is an important exercise as most hospital rooms are small and filled with equipment. The ponies must be confident and secure when they are visiting even if the have to back out of a crowded room.
Hauling hay from the garage to the shed. (Whew! This is a lot of work, especially in the snow!)
Mucking the stall. (shoveling out the old saw dust and replacing it with new)
Shoveling manure and dumping it in the compost. (pretty much self explanatory)
Helping with the ponies and their special visitors either on site or traveling to facilities. This is an important job. We usually have one person who holds the pony's lead and the other who helps with our guests. That could mean anything from carrying the bucket of brushes and hand wipes to demonstrating how to brush a pony. Each situation is different and our volunteers learn to be sensitive to the needs of others.
Working with animals is a special privilege. They are intelligent and intuitive, but not always in the same way humans are. It's up to us to learn to speak their language, not up to them to learn ours. In addition to growing in physical strength and building a "can do" attitude, our volunteers learn patience, gentleness, kindness and flexibility. They are rewarded with a special relationship and bond with a pony who will remember each of them his whole life, which could be as old as 50 years! We are extremely grateful for all the hard work our volunteers give and we hope they will have a life long memory of our ponies too.
One of my volunteers is Alex (the last picture), he does all of the work as talked about above plus some other things like lunging.
right now Alex is attending Thomas Worthington high school and he is in his sophomore year. He works with snickers when we are walking to the park.
Ages 10 and up (including adults) are welcome to inquire. Just call Gina at 614-579-0867.