If you’re interested in equine studies or just love horses in general, consider equestrian volunteering abroad and spend time working with these gentle giants. Many equestrian volunteer programs focus projects around either equine rescue involving the care and rehabilitation of abused and neglected horses or equine-assisted therapy such as therapeutic riding. Equestrian volunteer work abroad is not only an opportunity to learn more about horses and gain invaluable work experience in the equine field, but it is also a great way to have fun, meet fellow horse-lovers, and travel.
Why Volunteer Abroad with Horses
Volunteering abroad is a way to not only see a new place, but to also give back to a community in need. When you give your energy and time to abused and neglected horses, their quality of life improves. Similarly, when people with disabilities or mental illness receive equine-assisted therapy, their quality of life improves.
Volunteering abroad in horse rescue and rehabilitation is special because you’re helping a creature who really can’t help itself. Horses have no choice in how humans treat them, and all too often they are treated poorly. Animals are capable of forgiveness even in the cruelest of circumstances. Watching a horse who was once fearful begin to trust humans again is just one of the many reasons why working with a rescue organization is so rewarding.
Equine-assisted therapy volunteering is also very special. For volunteers interested in volunteering with horses and helping people, the experience can be twice as gratifying. Volunteers not only help patients achieve their therapy goals, but they also get to witness first-hand how therapeutic riding can significantly change a person’s life.
South Africa is an excellent place for those interested in equestrian volunteering abroad, in both horse rescue and rehabilitation as well as equine-assisted therapy placement. Therapy placements will give volunteers the opportunity to work with children and adults with disabilities. Trained instructors work with volunteers to assist participants in developing their motor skills, as well as building their confidence and strength through horse riding.
Israel is another location that is great for volunteering in equine-assisted therapy. Programs here cater to children and adults, with both physical disabilities and mental illnesses. Volunteers will help individuals build special relationships with their horses, which teaches them trust, patience, and self-esteem. Besides therapy, volunteers will have the opportunity to teach children and adults how to ride horses properly in addition to caring for them.
Argentina is a perfect location for volunteering abroad with horses due to its history of traditional cowboys, the gauchos, and imminent equine presence. Intermediate level Spanish speakers will relish this opportunity to develop their Spanish fluency, help individuals both young and old rehabilitate from both physical and emotional problems, and tend to horses’ needs. Skilled professionals will also assist you in working as an equine therapy volunteer abroad to learn about theories and build better relationships between patients and horses.
Equestrian Volunteering Abroad
The two most common ways to volunteer abroad with horses are rescue and rehabilitation and equine-assisted therapy.
Horses in rescue and rehabilitation centers have been mistreated in the past and have lost their trust in humans. Volunteers can help by spending time with the horses, giving them attention, and showing them affection, which are all invaluable steps to regaining their trust. Showing patience and kindness while grooming and riding the horses, as well as talking to them will help the horses feel more comfortable around people. Those who volunteer in horse rescue and rehabilitation will also often be asked to help with cleaning and feeding.
Equine therapy volunteer abroad programs involve using horse riding and general interactions with horses to promote physical and emotional growth of people with disabilities or mental illness. It has been used to help with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, autism, cerebral palsy, dementia, depression, Down syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injuries, and more. In individuals to physical disabilities, the benefit of therapeutic riding is the feeling of motion while riding the horse, which mimics the gait of walking. Volunteering in equine therapy generally involves helping to clean the farm, preparing riding areas for therapeutic lessons, feeding and grooming the horses, as well as interacting with therapy patients.
Experience volunteering with horses isn’t always a requirement, but most placements do require that volunteers be physically fit and have a genuine interest in and respect for horses, and of course individuals with disabilities.
Equestrian volunteer work abroad is a great way to help animals and people in need. Whether you choose to work directly with horses in rescue and rehabilitation centers or with people through equine-assisted therapy, you’ll get the benefit of being around horses and the people who love them. You will learn so much from these majestic creatures. Rescued horses can teach forgiveness, kindness, and patience, while therapeutic horses will teach you just how special the bond is between human and horse, and how that bond can help people in amazing ways.