Molly Awiszus has been a volunteer for Windrush Farm since 2011. Since starting out as a class volunteer, she has branched out to help in the barn, assist with our Gala and other special events, and spruce up our offices with new paint and decoration. Here is her experience in her words:
If I were to be honest, what first drew me to Windrush Farm were the horses. After several years of bringing my children to the Family Festival, I decided I was ready to give volunteering a try. I have to say, initially, it was a bit overwhelming, there seemed to be so much to learn. Just putting the halter over the bridle without getting the buckles and straps tangled — I thought I would never get it. Luckily, the first horse I worked with was Tory, who was as gentle and patient as he could be, letting me take my time as I figured it all out with the support of Andrea and Megan.
Classes were another challenge. But, as always at Windrush, if I took a wrong turn or missed a direction it was met by the Instructor with brevity and a lighthearted comment that always made me laugh. I began to appreciate the concentration it took on the horses’ part too, as the instructors directed them around the arena in 10 and 20 meter circles, through changes of direction and multiple transitions.
As my responsibilities increased and I became a Barn Coordinator, Megan and Kim guided me through the ins and outs of managing the barn and the preparation of the horses for class. The first time I went to clean Seth’s hooves, I was completely intimidated by his size and was afraid to ask him to pick up his back foot. With Megan’s support and instructions, I was able to do it. There were so many others doing the hoof cleaning and grooming, I realized that my initial fear was unfounded. Now after getting to know Seth, I realize he is such a gentleman! All the horses are so incredible, accepting different people grooming, tacking, and having different riders almost every day.
Everyone at Windrush Farm is so helpful, and with the guidance of Megan and Kim and Andrea and Gina and many, many helpful staff members and volunteers, those days of insecurity seem long ago. As I have gotten to know those beautiful and gentle horses, my confidence has increased and now I would help out in the barn every day if I could.
It is amazing to me how quickly you can become attached to the horses. I always seem to favor whatever horse I am working with. Currently it is Judge and Squash, and of course, the lovely Rummy. Tomorrow it could really be any other, as I truly love them all. Getting to know each of their personalities has made all the difference. It has also been a privilege getting to know the riders. I love being a part of what has become my Wednesday morning team of horse, sidewalkers and rider. I look forward to being there every week.
Although it started out being about the horses, it has become so much more. I think I learn something every day from someone. Volunteering at Windrush Farm has been a gentle reminder to be grateful. It has taught me humility, as I witness dignity and grace and courage every time I am there. Watching the relationship between horse and rider, I see kindness, which I think is what Windrush Farm is all about: kindness to each other, kindness to the clients, kindness to the horses.
I have gotten from Windrush Farm more than I could ever give, and to me, the Windrush motto holds true (“We are all capable of more than we think“). Volunteering has challenged me, brought me new friendships, taught me things about myself and made me so thankful to be a part of such an amazing place.
Thank you Molly and ALL of our wonderful volunteers — we couldn’t do it without you!