Apples, Carrots, and TLC for Neglected Horses
The horses at the HorseNet Horse Rescue in Mt. Airy, Maryland, come from different backgrounds and range in age and size, but they all share one characteristic-they are in need of serious tender loving care. This academic year students from the Model Secondary School for the Deaf (MSSD) are volunteering their time at the rescue, learning about horses and themselves while they fulfill part of MSSD's volunteer community service requirement.
"Every MSSD student must perform community service as part of his or her graduation requirements," said Nancy Bonura, weekend coordinator of MSSD's Student Life. "We were looking for interesting community service projects for our students, and I read in a Gallaudet Today magazine about Linda Williams, coordinator of Tutorial and Instructional Programs at Gallaudet University, who volunteers at the HorseNet Horse Rescue. It looked like a fun place for our students to help out."
Each group of student volunteers receives a tour of the facility, and then they are assigned to tasks related to the care and feeding of the horses and the grounds. Before the visit on February 13, the student volunteers and teachers asked the school community for donations of apples and carrots. At the rescue, they cut and prepared the donations and fed them to the grateful horses. Some students curry combed horses to clean off winter dust and dirt from their coats, while others led horses, holding their bridles on a walk around the riding ring. Several students helped with trimming branches from low hanging trees and clearing broken branches from the riding paths and rings, especially important tasks since 11 of the horses at the rescue are blind.
The students found that being with and caring for the horses out in the open country air gave them a positive sense of self. "I felt peaceful caring for the horses; it made me feel important," said student Navarro Hall.
A few of the student volunteers were experienced riders. "I helped others carrying branches to the place near the frozen pond near the goat's pen. I helped slice apples while Zamary [Figueroa] was slicing carrots. I fed the horses and walked the mini-ponies," said student Vera Mauro. "I plan to own horses ... after I graduate from high school and college. I learned a lot about them and I learned something important [through my volunteer work at the rescue]-to accept the horses for what they are. I am impressed that the volunteers did such a great job working to keep the place clean and fresh for the animals. I learned that some people just don't want the horses because they have some problems, but I really love all of the animals, even the way they look."
Groups of MSSD students will visit the rescue four more times this spring. Bonura expressed her appreciation to the members of the Clerc Center community for their donations of apples and carrots.
The HorseNet Horse Rescue is a nonprofit horse rescue and rehabilitation facility with locations in Mt. Airy and New Windsor, Maryland. The all-volunteer staff rescues horses that were abused, have become handicapped, or whose owners can no longer care for them. They do not offer the horses for sale, but wherever possible after rehabilitation try to place the animals in new and loving homes. They specialize in the care of senior and blind horses.
For more information: http://www.horsenethorserescue.org