How to Be a Successful Windrush Farm Intern in 11 Easy Steps

  1. Be willing to get dirty: you will be grooming, tacking, sweeping, haying, mucking, receiving horse nudges and kisses, walking through muddy paddocks and trails, and stepping in manure. Guaranteed.intern6
  2. Be flexible: No matter what your plan for the day is, roll with it.   Turnout changes, horse changes, tack changes, volunteer changes…you will likely be involved in some way.
  3. Be prepared to make mistakes:  “Can you call up to the barn?  They forgot the jumpstrap for Bucky.”  Or, “someone left the water on overnight.”  Don’t worry, we’ve ALL done it!
  4. Find a way to use your degree: a PT/OT or nursing major gets hands-on experience; a business major learns how to manage a barn of 29 horses, an art major designs and prepares class materials, and an English major might just write a book about her experiences.
  5. intern5Expect the unexpected:  how in the world did that horse slip under the 2’x4’ rubber stall guard WITH additional bottom chains, sneak right by me, and find his way to the front yard to eat grass???  (That would be our beloved Pie, by the way.)
  6. Try something new:   learn to work the lift, ride with your eyes closed, ride a mustang, treat a foot abscess, work with a Veteran – the opportunities are endless.
  7. Be people-oriented as well as horse-oriented:  I think most people are, in the end, people-persons or animal-persons.  Here you get a chance to be both!
  8. Ask questions:  gain from our nearly 50 years of therapeutic horsemanship experience.  Our staff, across the board, are always willing to answer your questions and teach you.intern4
  9. Be prepared to stay for the long term:  did you know our Program Coordinator, Barn Supervisor and at least two weekend volunteers are former interns?   It’s hard to leave!
  10. Love the animals and learn from them:  there are over 25 horses and ponies on our property.  Each has something to teach you; each will surprise you; each will appreciate your love and affection (and a carrot or two in their feed bucket).
  11. Appreciate all of the new people you meet:  you will make friends with the most extraordinary people: ourintern 2 wonderful clients and their families and caretakers, our volunteers who come from many different backgrounds, and our supportive staff.

If you are interested in becoming an intern, please contact Jenna Nowosacki, our Program Coordinator, at jenna@windrushfarm.org, or Gina and Jess, our Volunteer Coordinators, at volunteer@windrushfarm.org.

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Volunteer Opportunities During Our Winter Session 2012

Experience the world of horses in a whole new way this winter!

Looking for something new to do this winter to beat the winter blues? Why not try one of these exciting options!  See something you like?  Contact Jenna Nowosacki, our Program Coordinator, at jenna@windrushfarm.org.

Drill Team:

New to riding or ready to take your riding to the next level? Then drill team could be for you! Drill team is a team sport where riders perform patterns set to music. These can be as simple or complex as you’d like!

Drill team 

For the beginner or intermediate rider, drill team is a wonderful introduction to basic steering, speed regulation, and safety riding in a group. At this level, drill team can be done at the walk and/or trot. Check out this video of our very own “Windrushettes” in their holiday drill team last winter!

For more advanced riders, drill team can be the next added challenge to learn to perform more complex patterns at higher speed within the group. Check out this drill team by a 4-H group.

Drill team is also beneficial for our horses. It teaches horses to work in close quarters with one another as they perform various patterns, helps them learn to listen to the rider instead of following the group, and provides physical and mental stimulation for the horse. Read this article about UMaine’s drill team as a way to rehab ex-harness racing Standardbreds (this page takes a moment to load).

These lessons are for children, teens and adults!

Vaulting:

Interested in developing your balance and confidence on and around the horse?  Begin by learning vaulting poses on a stationary vaulting barrel before trying out your new skills on horseback! These poses can be performed at the halt, walk, or trot in the beginning stages.

vaulting2

Here is a description from the Equestrian Vaulting Australia website (http://equestrianvaulting.com.au): “Vaulting is a performance sport and originates from Roman times. It is best described as “gymnastics or dance on horseback”. Vaulters perform compulsory and freestyle moves to music on a moving horse at either walk or canter. This is done individually, in pairs or in a team. This fun sport for all ages promotes co-ordination, balance, physical health, self-esteem, the ability to work as a team member, lifelong friendship all linked by the overwhelming love and trust of a horse. It enhances ones balance and riding seat so horse riders benefit also. A truly world-wide sport with teams and clubs operating in a vast variety of countries.”  

vaulting1

This video gives an introduction to the sport of vaulting and shows some of the basic moves performed on horseback. This video shows interactive vaulting as done at a therapeutic riding center.

Lessons and activities can be tailored to adults or children with or without special needs.

 Long lining:

Learn how to ground drive a horse using long lines!  Long lining is an excellent method for training horses, helping to improve their flexibility and conditioning.  It allows the horse to learn without a rider.  Historically, many hippotherapy programs use long lining as an alternative method of leading a horse.  You will improve your horse handling skills and learn more about horse training!

longlining

Horse trainer, Chris Irwin, describes the benefits of long-lining, otherwise known as ground driving, for both the human and the horse:  

Ground driving can also keep our horses in a working frame of mind during the cold winter months because we can wear our warmest boots and Western apparel while driving from the ground, something that is not always feasible from the saddle. Besides that, walking briskly behind a horse is exercise that will keep our blood circulating much better then it does when we’re sitting in the saddle. Last, but certainly not least, long lining is a lot of fun!

I teach many of my students long lining because it helps them understand and feel the concept of how to have a horse “in-hand”. All too often I find riders who are stuck with the habit of hands that pull (even if only a little) on the reins. We see immediate improvement when these riders climb back in the saddle after ‘getting the feel’ on the ground with the long lines. Their horses are far more relaxed, moving understand and feel the concept level-headed or well-rounded, and definitely coming through with more engagement from their hindquarters. The horses also have a much more relaxed eye, soft mouth and licking lips, as the hands of the rider discover how to hold a horse with absolutely no backward motion or pull to the reins. 

Watch this video of long-lining in action! If you click through you will see long-lining done at the walk, trot, and canter with both basic and advanced movements.

Natural Horsemanship:

natural horsemanship

Natural horsemanship is a way of working with horses on the ground and under saddle with the ultimate goal of increasing the subtle communication between horses and humans. It focuses on reading the body language of the horse, working on the timing of aids when communicating with the horse, and developing our own body language as a means of communication.

Watch this video to see some of the basics of natural horsemanship.

From here, one can work on leading the horse – even without a lead rope! This is called working “at-liberty,” as seen in this video.

If you are interested in building a deeper relationship with horses or learning to communicate more effectively with horses, this is definitely a way of working with horses to look in to! Kids, teens, and adults of all abilities and need can all successfully do natural horsemanship!

If you are interested in any of these programs, please contact Jenna Nowosacki, our Program Coordinator, at jenna@windrushfarm.org.