Making a Difference
When a horse steps off the trailer at Throwaway Ponies, they are leaving behind a life of pain, neglect, fear, and suffering. Waiting for them is a new world of hope, love, and second chances for the future. They are given everything they need, physically and emotionally, to gain back their spirit and heart to lead a fulfilling and happy life. In return, any and every horse can give back to humans by encouraging trust, confidence, and healing in women and children who have been as scarred as the horse once was.
The old saying “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man” holds true at Throwaway Ponies (“TaPs”). It’s a small, non-profit equine rescue that began as a retirement home for horses, and grew to accept any equine with a painful past or need for a home. Some horses have been beaten, neglected, or abandoned, and some had a caring family that couldn’t care for them anymore and wanted to ensure that they were given a good home.
TaPs also provides equine-assisted therapy for abused or forgotten women and children who may not trust other people enough to reach out, but can find emotional and spiritual connections with a horse who doesn’t judge them for what they’ve been through. Volunteers dedicate their lives to taking care of 40-plus animals, training them, teaching riding lessons, and helping with therapy- all in an effort to reach as many victims as possible, human and animal, and make a positive difference in their lives by reaching out where the world doesn’t.
I’ve been an animal lover my whole life, and developed a particular love for horses when I began riding lessons at a very young age. I was especially sensitive to stories of animals that were unloved by the humans they relied on, and wanted to do something to help touch the lives of as many needy horses as I could and give them the quality of life they deserved. I learned about a nearby equine rescue, Throwaway Ponies, and once I was old enough, I began to volunteer there and now I am proud to have been a part of such a wonderful organization for nearly 2 years. I spend several hours after school and on the weekends helping out by feeding all the horses, teaching riding lessons and interacting with both the kids and horses who are looking for care and attention, or need to learn to trust again.
Because TaPs is a small rescue with a lot to accomplish, I and the rest of the teens and adults who volunteer have to do a lot. Besides the work involved in daily care and maintenance of the rescue, I became involved with the graphic design and promotional side of it. I have utilized my skills in graphic design to help create things such as ads, flyers, and program logos to help advance TaPs’s recognition to the public, as well as develop more long-term and substantial elements like a web site, videos, fundraising, and an e-mail newsletter.
Volunteering at TaPs has not only taught me about working with horses as an equal, but has also made a difference in the way I see other people and life. When I see a horse that was once starving, fearful, and ready to die become a healthy and happy creature being hugged and fed treats by a child, I feel proud that I helped to turn their life around and show them that not all humans mean pain and anger. I feel proud knowing that this horse now has the chance to start life anew, and possibly give that child the ability to grow, recover from whatever happened to them, and pass the love on- like a chain reaction.
Also, I have become more understanding and comfortable with people. Before being introduced to TaPs, I wasn’t comfortable around people who were mentally or physically disabled; I avoided them. But now I teach these same people how to communicate with a horse and experience the freedom and joy of horseback riding, and give them an outlet for self-expression when they might otherwise be surrounded by people like how I was before- uncomfortable and distant.
Volunteering has shown me that everyone, including myself, deserves a second chance and can pull through whatever happens in life with hope and love. I’m happy to have found my place helping others, of any species, by giving them something to hold onto.