Hi, my name is Laura and I started volunteering at the Wings Programs facility at the end of March. With a change in my working life I had more time and I wanted to find some way to be around horses and be helping. I don’t have much horse experience but have loved these wonderful animals my whole life, and I just wanted to be able to spend time with them. Walking, grooming, mucking stalls…I was willing to do it all!
I found about the Wings Programs from my veterinarian, so I got in touch and showed up at a volunteer orientation on March 20th. I was really impressed with the Founder, Debora Lay, and the board members because they have such an obvious love and a caring attitude for the animals and for people, too. They understand that volunteers want to be put to work but also want some time with the horses, and they stress the importance of both. What I loved most was when Debora said, “Any task you do, no matter how small, helps the horses.” That really crystallized for me what volunteering here is all about. It’s about helping horses.
So a few days later I showed up ready to work. My first day was really busy, as I was put to work mucking stalls and detailing the stalls (sweeping out cobwebs, wiping the railings, doing a detailed cleaning of the floor) to get them ready to rent. Boarding fees help pay for the sanctuary program, so mucking stalls is helping horses. :-)
In the course of doing this, I got to drive one of the golf carts around with a trailer attached, which we used to remove the used stall shavings from the barn. What a handy tool for a big property! And it’s fun driving a cart around. :-) After doing a bunch of mucking, Debora gave me my first lesson in grooming horses and set me loose on Patches and Spike. All of the horses are starting to shed their winter coats, so lots of grooming is needed. I was thrilled to be able to do this on my first day!
Being around horses just grounds me. They are big but mostly gentle, and you just have to approach them in a calm, gentle manner. You don’t rush up to a horse and try to hug it, you don’t wave your arms around, you keep your voice calm, you speak gently, move slowly, and you breathe. You approach a horse in the way that works for them, not for you. As I was grooming, I looked around and felt like I was the luckiest person in the world. Here I was, standing in the sun, the wind in my hair, the gorgeous mountains in the background and a big, beautiful horse under my hands.
Just before I left for the day I volunteered to help move a load of hay that had just come in. Wow, I really found out what kind of shape I’m in! I used to lift log rounds and rocks on my property with no problem but moving these hay bales kicked my butt. :-) I like that working at the barn gets me out doing physical work that is so good for my body and gives me the opportunity to be around the horses, which is so good for my soul.
Laura Weise is a Wings volunteer who lives in Stevensville and will be bringing you stories of life at the barn.