Time off from school can be time spent with horses, though riding is only one of the ways to get your horse fix. Did you know you can learn about rescue horses and help with their care in spring break and summer programs?
I was lucky enough to spend time at Days End Farm Horse Rescue during two of my summers, once when I was little as a volunteer bucket washer and stall mucker, and once as a teen Youth Legacy Program participant.
While a Youth Legacy Program participant, I had tons of fun with this miniature horse at DEFHR
(photo courtesy of Holden Rafey)
Days End Farm Horse Rescue (DEFHR) is a nonprofit, volunteer-based animal welfare organization whose mission is to ensure quality care and treatment of horses through intervention, education, and outreach. Founded by Kathleen Howe in 1989, DEFHR has grown from a small farm to a national rescue and rehabilitation facility. The farm shelters 110 to 150 horses annually. Trained staff and volunteers rescue and rehabilitate ill and injured horses impounded by animal control authorities and humane agencies. The farm gives horses a second chance and strives to adopt them out to loving homes.
Meeting a foal born at DEFHR (photo courtesy of Holden Rafey)
This winter, I returned to DEFHR and was treated to a tour by the farm’s Volunteer Coordinator, Carrie Koehnlein-Alden. We visited the paddocks and training ring while we talked about the rescue and rehabilitation work performed at DEFHR. We watched trainers work with horses and saw supporters with their special horses enjoying their time together. I met the foal of a rescue mare who came in pregnant, and we talked about DEFHR’s emergency rescue process, including how volunteers will go help anyone with a horse in crisis.
Trainers at work at DEFHR (photo by Holden Rafey)
DEFHR not only rescues and rehabilitates horses, but also works to prevent abuse and neglect through community outreach. They offer a variety of internships and educational programs so that the community can be involved and informed.
According to Nicky Wetzelberger, the farm’s Community Outreach Director, “DEFHR is able to offer youth volunteers a unique experience working closely with horses that have once been neglected or abused. It’s a fun way for volunteers to spend their summers outside, learning about horses, working with horses, and even playing games on horseback! Volunteers provide over 55,000 hours of service each year, and we are so thankful for each and every volunteer!”
DEFHR offers a variety of programs for youth and adults. The Youth Legacy Program in which I participated is for volunteers ages 12-17 who want to get involved. Volunteers learn about horse care through classroom instruction as well as hands-on experience. And they even get to participate in some riding activities! Youth Legacy Volunteers feed and care for the horses as well as complete barn chores while receiving educational instruction. There is also a Junior Legacy Program open to children ages 7-11 who want to volunteer at the farm.
Even if you are unable to volunteer at the farm over the summer there are other ways to get involved.
Ms. Wetzelberger also said, “Many youth volunteers support DEFHR by hosting their own fundraiser or educating people about equine neglect and informing people about DEFHR and the services we offer.”
You can find more ways to support DEFHR on their Ways to Give page.
DEFHR is also a valued Maryland Horse Council sponsor. The Farm is located in Woodbine, Maryland and has tours open to the public every day of the year. Visit their website for more information and plan to spend some time at this amazing place.
ABOUT OUR BLOGGER:
My name is Holden Rafey, and I am honored to be serving as the Maryland Horse Council’s Youth Correspondent. As the MHC Youth Correspondent, I will be posting monthly to this blog about horse-related topics in the state of Maryland to give a youth perspective and share information of interest to MHC youth members. I live in Montgomery County and attend Walter Johnson High School, where I play softball and field hockey. My equestrian trainer is Melinda Cohen, and I ride at her barn, Dream Catcher Farm, in Frederick County. In addition to being the Youth Correspondent for the MHC, I have been selected to serve as a student intern for the American Horse Council this spring and I will write about my experience in a future blog post.