Volunteer Horse Caregivers

by admin on March 26, 2011

Get to know some of our wonderful volunteer horse caregivers, how they got started volunteering with The Pegasus Rising Project, and how the herd gives back to them!

    Dan McFadden

    Dan McFaddenI love animals, needed volunteer work, and wanted to help men and women of the armed services. I’ve found there is always a positive energy around the barn and the herd.

    With my new understanding of horses comes new respect. They are so powerful yet so sensitive. Successfully dealing with Leo in a small pen gave me a bit of a surge in self-confidence.

    Doing the mucking and feeding is great exercise and as I’d hoped, I’ve met some wonderful people through Pegasus Rising. I also enjoy discussing the program with friends and family, because it is – let’s face it… so cool!

    Diana Remer

    Diana RemerI heard about the Pegasus Rising Project on Facebook and knew it was something I wanted to be involved with.

    I love animals (especially horses) and have spent many blissful hours riding in Europe where I grew up.

    In addition, I was intrigued by the work being done with US Vets coming back from war, as my dad was a WWII Veteran.

    As soon as I arrive at the ranch a smile begins to creep across my face as the horses are neighing in greeting. The smell of the horses and the hay are like “aromatherapy” for me, and a sense of calm immediately passes through me.

    I adore being hands on with these magnificent animals during the Horse Interaction Program (HIP) sessions, and will groom and interact with them for as long as they will let me.

    Caring for these beautiful creatures gives me a wonderful sense of well-being. To be able to give to them, who in turn give back to humans in need – is truly gratifying.

    Gayle Cochrane

    Gayle CochraneI wanted to be able to contribute something to both our veterans and to animals.

    I love the beauty of the stables and the gentleness of the horses.

    It is gratifying to hear about the individuals Pegasus Rising has been able to help and to see the horses enjoying their new lives.

    Janine Gavin

    I have always wanted to learn the care of horses. It is great the days I am out at the barn and all the volunteers get along well with each other.

    I love coming to dirty corrals and leaving with them looking squeaky clean! I’m having a great time!

    Jessica Eggers

    I love working with horses and saw this project as a great outlet to be with them. I am also very motivated by our mission – I think equine therapy is an excellent tool for those in need.

    I felt a surge of confidence when interacting with the herd and each time I attended a HIP session I felt a deeper connection with the horses.

    I love the positivity around the barn and among all the wonderful volunteers. There is always a calm and peaceful ambiance at Pegasus. I feel included as part of a group with Pegasus and it feels good to know my role is important in keeping the project going.

    I have had many wonderful conversations with my “mucking mates” that have helped me gain perspective on life in general. It is always a joy to be outside with the herd and hanging out with the horses really makes you slow down and take a deep breath and enjoy life!

    Jessica Haldeman

    Jessida HaldemanI was searching for a program involving animals that I could volunteer my time and assistance to and found Pegasus Rising to be that and more.

    It has been a very meaningful experience for me to spend time with the horses as well as help out in the Equine Assisted Experiential Health Therapy Programs by transporting the returning Veterans and standing in on their therapy sessions.

    Getting to know our Veterans and meeting the Social Work staff has been a wonderful opportunity for me as I am applying to Graduate schools for a Master’s in Social Work.

    No matter how I am feeling before I arrive at the barn, I am always calmed, at peace and grateful when I can spend time working with the horses and in the Equine Assisted Experiential Health Therapy Program.

    I am happy just being near the horses and petting them as I know they need individuals like Gary and the rest of the Pegasus team to nurture and care for them. I feel a sense of accomplishment when I speak to the Veterans on our drives about how positive they feel after sessions with the herd and how great the program is for them.

    My first meeting with the horses had a very positive impact on me as I have never been right in a paddock with more than two horses before and not in years, so I was a little nervous. Suddenly I had five or so horses surrounding me.

    I have always loved horses but being this close to them allowed me to see what sensitive animals they are and how much they can help in human healing. I was so touched by their story and instantly felt a great connection with them.

    Karen Darrin

    Karen DarrinI have a great passion of the human-animal bond.

    When I volunteer my time and money, I have usually focused my efforts on this bond. For example, I raised two puppies for Canine Companions for Independence years ago.

    I was looking for a new volunteer opportunity around animals and humans, and was thrilled when I saw Pegasus Rising.

    I have always wanted to learn and be around horses and this program was a perfect chance to help, learn about the horses and their care and watch the magic that happens when humans and animals interact.

    The smell of hay makes me feel like a child again. My aunt and uncle in Ohio had a dairy farm and I have many happy memories of those days.

    I also start to relax and focus on the horses – not my day, work or that bill that needs to be paid, etc.

    Animals teach us how to be in the moment and I slide right in there with them as I feed, muck, etc. If I have time after my shift, I will just watch the horses. It is a peaceful meditation for me.

    I am learning much about horses’ care, in general. But more specifically, I am trying to learn the names, personalities and histories of each horse. I have asked for updated photos in the office and web, including more info on each horse. My “therapy” comes in as I get to know each animal and their unique personalities.

    The one HIP I was able to attend was so great. We got to interact with the “old mares” and the geldings. I could have groomed and cooed with them all day. Getting some background from Gary on each of the horses was exactly what I was hoping for. I just wish I was able to recall all the info. I just don’t see the horses enough for it to really sink in, I guess.

    One of the mares (Nikaya) and I have a little game we play. She head butts all the hay out of the feed bucket. I put it back. She looks right at me and head butts it right back out of the bucket. This goes on a couple of times until I let her “win,” as I have to get back to raking. She is my kinda gal.

    Kim Haworth

    Kim HaworthI’ve always loved working with animals. I’ve wanted to become a veterinarian since I was 5 years old.

    I started volunteering with Pegasus Rising because I’ve always had a fascination with horses, but have never had a chance to be around them growing up. Volunteering with Pegasus Rising was my first real interaction with these beautiful creatures.

    I love working at the barn and with the horses. Working full time as an RVT (registered veterinary technician) can become very stressful and all of that stress melts away when I am with the horses. The entire ranch is so peaceful, calming and beautiful. I always feel immediately relaxed right when I arrive.

    I also love spending my time with the other volunteers. I love being surrounded by people who share my genuine love for animals and working hard to help them.

    Volunteering for Pegasus Rising has allowed me to be comfortable around an animal that I was once scared of, meet other great volunteers and build lasting friendships with people who have similar interests as me, and most importantly, it has allowed me to be a part of a great program.

    I have always believed that animals have the ability to help people and make the world a better place. I’m glad to be able to see that happening right before my eyes and knowing that I have a part in making it happen.

    The HIP sessions have taught me a lot about the general care of horses. Before attending the HIP sessions I knew nothing about horses and the care they need. Sarah, Gary and Cal are great at answering any questions and educating all the volunteers about the proper, gentle way of interacting with the horses.

    Having a chance to spend one-on-one time with a horse has allowed me to become much more comfortable around them. It is a great feeling knowing that a horse feels comfortable enough with you to allow you to “catch” him or her easily.

    Knowing the history of this herd and seeing that they still trust and love people despite how they were previously treated is very enlightening.

    As humans, we tend to hold grudges and never fully trust someone 100% again; we stay guarded for our entire lives. These horses rely on us to help them and can sense the goodness in our hearts.

    Although I have never personally been at a session with the veterans, just hearing the stories of their interactions and reactions makes me proud to be a part of this program.

    Linda Legare

    My first motivation was my love for horses. I grew up with a horse and other than riding in Mexico on the beach I have had no chance to be involved with horses.

    I also wanted to help bring these incredible animals back to health and to give them some peace. It is very fulfilling to be involved in a project that involves animals that can help heal people that are dealing with PTSD.

    I have a very stressful job and once I arrive at the barn and mingle with these amazing beautiful animals my stress goes away – they have a way of making you feel peaceful and calm.

    I love the physical work involved as well. I have met some wonderful people that are involved with this project.

    People think I am crazy when I say how much I enjoy unloading truck loads of hay. Sharing in an experience like that is rewarding and it is for such a good cause.

    The horses bring out emotions in you that are very powerful – they have this unique way of making you feel special.

    I enjoy any interaction with the horses. Mucking corrals and feeding I enjoy, but I love to be able to groom and spend time with them seeing how they interact with us.

    When I was volunteering at Valley Center I was on my own in the corral with 5, 2-year-old incredibly beautiful stallions each week and I would muck before feeding. They would surround me and it was an incredible experience, they were feisty and so inquisitive. I was always wary as they can be unpredictable but I loved interacting with them.

    Being involved in the Pegasus Rising project gives me joy and spending time with the herd has given me inner peace and I love every moment of the time I spend there.

    Michelle Westendorf

    I was looking for an opportunity to give back and make a difference and I love animals and being outdoors, so Pegasus Rising was a perfect fit for me. It’s an amazing experience to be out in the fresh air with the herd.

    There is an extremely positive and relaxing vibe at the barn; whatever went on in my day just disappears and I’m incredibly happy to be out of my office and working next to the horses.

    I have a great sense of accomplishment when I leave for the day – the horses are feeding and happy, the corals are clean, I feel like I’ve added in a positive way to a great cause, and I really feel at peace. I also love working with and getting to know the other volunteers. Everyone I meet has such interesting stories and backgrounds.

    I love when I arrive with the first load of hay and the mares great us with a chorus of neighs! They are so happy to have us there and they are so trusting. It’s a very positive feeling.

    Sally Ward

    Sally WardI’m a New Jersey farm gal, always lived in the country with lots of animals, sold the New Jersey farm and moved to California in 2001.

    One thing missing in my California life was working outside with animals. Pegasus Rising provides a service for war veterans and I can work outside with the beautiful Pegasus Herd.

    I love barns, the smell of hay, the horses, and the hard work. Reminds me of working on the farm in New Jersey.

    It’s a beautiful, peaceful place where I have met some of the best people in the world – we work hard, laugh and enjoy working as a team caring for the horses.

    I get a sense of accomplishment by providing a service to care for the rescued horses, knowing war veterans will receive therapy from the gentle Pegasus Herd in beautiful surroundings and I get lots of exercise while working with good-hearted volunteers.

    Attending HIP was my first introduction to liberty horse training and working with horses that had very little or no interaction with humans. I learned the horse “greeting” (how to say hello) and it was a unique experience to work with horses unbroken to bridles or riding.

    I have always been an outdoor girl who loves being around animals – volunteering at Pegasus brings me back to that outdoor, animal lover state of mind that I enjoy so much!

    When you volunteer for Pegasus, you are helping the war veterans that are participating in the Pegasus Rising Project, the therapy horses, making friends with wonderful people, and getting lots of exercise – making the volunteering experience a win-win situation for all!

Want to become a Pegasus volunteer? Learn more about our volunteer programs and apply here.

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