Youâ€™ve always wanted your own horse, but youâ€™ve never been in a position to own one. This is your opportunity to feel like a horse owner!
Volunteers qualify for the My Horse program after serving 88 hours in six (6) consecutive months, and after successfully completing Intermediate Horse Handling.
My Horse Highlights
Give us the names of three horses you’d like to train and treat as your own. We’ll do our best to match volunteers and horses based on your preference, experience and abilities.
Commit to spending at least 3 days training your horse each week, up to 6 days if you’re really making progress.
Sign up for chores and complete them before each training session.
Part of horse ownership is knowing your horse. If you notice strange or abnormal behavior, report it. You’re our eyes and ears for the horse in your care, so you’ll be part of its routine care, as well as its veterinary, dental and foot care.
As you and your horse learn and grow, the My Horse program allows you toÂ enter contests and shows together! Qualified participants can also take your horse to clinics, play days, trail rides and other fun events.Â
Rules & Guidelines
To make sure we’re all on the same page and we understand the intent, hopes and expectations of the My Horse program, following are some rules and guidelines to clarify and expound upon the highlights above. All rescue rules and your signed volunteer agreement continue to apply to participants of the My Horse program, so please re-familiarize yourself if you have questions.
We’ll do our best to pair you with the horse you prefer. If multiple volunteers select the same horses, here’s how we’ll match horses with qualified volunteers*:
- Experience and compatibility of horse and volunteer.
- Hours spent independently working at the rescue.
- Overall length of time volunteer has committed to the rescue.
*Please bear in mind, the horses we save from slaughter are temporary residents that may be adopted at any time. If your horse gets adopted, pat yourself on the back for helping prepare him for life in the real world, then pick another horse and start again!
- The goal is to work with your horse at least three (3) days a week, but no more than six (6) days (you both deserve a day of rest). Sessions should be 1-2 hours. We don’t want your volunteer time to interfere with your life, so whenever you need a break, simply let us know and we can work together to make other arrangements for your horse.
Our trainers will share exercises and techniques inspired by natural horsemanship, which means we don’t “break” horses or use punitive disciplinary measures. If you’re not familiar with natural horsemanship, please take some time to watch some YouTube videos on the subject.
- We don’t lose our tempers, yell, chase, strike, swat, gesture angrily or act aggressively toward our horses. Anyone found to have acted aggressively toward a horse (or human) will be immediately and permanently expelled from the rescue.
- Because the rescue is on private property, it’s important that Tami and Danny know who’s inside the security gate. Text or email Tami in advance of your training session to let her know when you’ll be there, for how long, and where you’ll be working. Also, email or text when you’re leaving the rescue.
- If, for whatever reason, you and your horse aren’t clicking on your training day, that’s okay! There’s no rush. On those days, do something simple and stress-free, like grooming or walking on a lead. Make it a point to leave your training session only after both you and your horse feel you’ve accomplished something.
- The My Horse program requires a firm foundation of groundwork. No volunteer will be allowed to ride a horse until evaluated by both trainers and approved by the Swingin’ D board.
- In accordance with our rescue rules, each riding session must be approved.
- Approved volunteers may only ride when someone else is present.
- Volunteers do not have the authority to override rules or allow anyone else to ride.
- My Horse participants must commit to independently completing chores from the list posted in the tack shed. Checking and topping off water troughs, emptying trash and picking up after yourself are not considered chores, and should be force of habit every time you come to the rescue.
- Chores must be completed in advance of your training session.
- Participants are required to select at least three different chores per week.
- ParticipantsÂ get credit for completing their tasks when they sign and date the chore book in the tack shed.
- Our volunteers are our eyes and ears in caring for our horses. When you notice strange or abnormal behavior in any horse, it’s best to report it. It could be minor, or it could be catastrophic. The only way to know for sure is to have us take a look.
- Every training session should begin with a light grooming session and a thorough picking and cleaning of the horse’s feet. This not only helps establish the relationship, it also helps ensure the horse doesn’t have rocks, sticks or other debris causing discomfort. Any issues (horse won’t give you his feet, thrush, soreness) should be reported to Tami.
- A responsible horse owner familiarizes herself with the typical signs of common conditions like thrush, colic and founder, as well as a healthy horse’s vital signs. Research normal heart rate, respiration rate and body temperature. We’ll also provide a chart of horse health information in the tack room.
- Responsible horse ownership also requires routine hoof trimming (or shoeing), grooming, vaccination and dental care. My Horse participants will help coordinate and participate in their horses’ routine care (the rescue will continue to pay for the horses’ needs).
- Because we currently only have one round-pen, participants need to schedule training time 48 hours in advance. Our trainers will also show you exercises you can use when round-pen isn’t available. You can also use the quarantine pen when it’s not in use. As you schedule, be sure to plan some padding around your training session, because…HORSE.
- Video is a great teaching and learning tool, but we ask that you not post training videos of our horses to social media or any public domain without written approval from Swingin’ D.
- Participants are required to attend scheduled monthly training sessions where our trainers can monitor your progress and help you grow. You’ll leave each session feeling great about your accomplishments, with a list of pointers and goals for the next training day. Again, we don’t want your volunteerism to be too onerous, so we understand if you occasionally can’t attend; however, if you miss more than two (2) consecutive training days, you may be suspended or removed from the program.
- Between training days, you might want to video some of your sessions and send them to Mike and Sarah for tips and pointers.
- Participants will keep a journal of their work – including dates, tasks, accomplishments, and the horse’s mood and behavior during each session. Keeping a journal will help you notice patterns or changes in your horse, track the hours you volunteer, and most of all, remind you of how far you and your the horse have come from the beginning. Reviewing your journal will help not only you and Swingin’ D, it will a priceless window for adopters to see into their new horse’s soul; thereby encouraging a successful adoption.
- My Horse participants are encouraged to attend (as an auditor) clinics and lessons with your horse. We also want you to enter events and horse shows if that’s something that interests you. Approved participants may obtain written permission to participate in outside events, provided she signs the appropriate releases and agreements. Swingin’ D must be identified as the horse’s owner. The volunteer will be responsible for all fees and costs associated with the event or contest, as well as for ensuring the horse’s safety and welfare in transport to and from the venue, and while in your care. (The rescue would appreciate a donation from any proceeds the volunteer and horse may win.)
Reserve a spot
Let us know which day you’d like to start your My Horse training with Sarah and Mike. Pick either June 15 or June 30.