A lot of what goes on at a horse facility is feeding the horses and cleaning up after them. The basics! I did a lot of that the past couple of weeks and the cool thing about doing both tasks is that you get to be in the pens with the horses. The more time I spend there, the more I'm getting to know the personality of the different horses, and those personalities really come out at feeding time! You find out who the bossy ones are, who the polite ones are, and who is impatient.
The mucking and feeding times are also a good time to check if there is enough water in their trough, are there any fencing issues, any objects on the ground that are unsafe, and just how the horses look in general. Being observant while you're doing the mundane tasks is important. I've also learned how to keep a curious horse, who might be thinking about escaping, from rushing the gate when I'm driving the cart in. We keep a flag on the cart to wave at them but in a pinch you can just wave your arms. All you need to do is let them know you are in charge and make them move their feet (thank you Clinton Anderson).
Sometimes they get confused when you drive in because we often use the same vehicle for mucking and feeding, just with a different cart attached. I didn't know it was possible for a horse to look disappointed, but they do when they realize your cart is full of poo and not hay. :-) When they find the hay cart, though, you hear a lot of happy munching until you get the hay into the feeders. I like the feeling I get when doing these tasks, the sense that I'm helping care for some very special beings.
Laura Weise is a Wings volunteer who lives in Stevensville and will be bringing you stories of life at the barn.