Volunteering at a horse sanctuary can be a life-changing experience. From circus to race and wild horses, horses all over the world need your help. If you are looking to volunteer abroad as a horse lover, a horse sanctuary is the place to be. By becoming a volunteer, you can do your part to make sure that these horses get to live the amazing life that they have never had. Yet, volunteering at a horse sanctuary can be quite challenging, since many of these horses have been through a lot. Nevertheless, you will be in a position to really make a difference – not only in the lives of these horses. If you do not know where to get started as a horse sanctuary volunteer, we are here to help. We can give you access to different horse sanctuary volunteer work positions in various regions. If you are passionate about volunteering and working with horses, you will thus want to read on.
What is a horse sanctuary?
If you are new to this area, you might want to know what a horse sanctuary is and why many horse sanctuaries all over the world need your help as a volunteer. A horse sanctuary is a place for abused, injured or neglected horses. Horses that are brought to a horse sanctuary get a second chance at life. Like any other animal sanctuary, a horse sanctuary is not only a place where horses are brought after they are rescued. Instead, these animals are going to spend the rest of their lives living at a horse sanctuary. As such, this is what makes a horse sanctuary different from a regular animal shelter, where animals are placed with new owners after a while.
At these sanctuaries, horses get to enjoy the remainder of their lives – either until they die a natural death or until they have to be put down for health reasons. Hence, horse sanctuaries can be described as safe havens for horses, where horses get to live in a natural and protected environment with their fellow horses. Since most horse sanctuaries operate as non-profit organizations, your help as a volunteer is all the more important. In fact, most horse sanctuaries would have to shut down if it was not for volunteers such as yourself. In case you do decide that you want to enroll in a horse sanctuary volunteer program, your efforts certainly will not go unnoticed.
Further keep in mind that many horse sanctuaries offer visitors the opportunity to ride horses while being accompanied by a volunteer or horse sanctuary employee. These visitors are encouraged to learn more about the appropriate handling and contact with horses. These classes and horse rides are both meant to educate visitors as well as get them interested in furthering the cause both financially and by giving their time. Some programs will even charge for these rides in order to raise funds.
Which animals will your volunteer efforts help?
Since the mission of most horse sanctuaries is to end all equine suffering, you might not just find horses at your chosen horse sanctuary. Instead, all of the following animals might find a forever home at a horse sanctuary, too:
However, we ask you to keep in mind that you will likely only be working with horses. If you are interested in working with wild animals, do not expect a zebra at your horse sanctuary by any means. Rather, you might want to become a wildlife conservation volunteer. Your help is very much needed in this field as well and there are plenty of opportunities for volunteer work in wildlife conservation, too.
Where can you volunteer at a horse sanctuary?
There are horses in need all over the world. This means that your horse sanctuary voluntary work might take you to North America, Europe or as far as Asia. It is up to you to decide where you would like to volunteer and how far from home you want to travel. From England to Spain, horse sanctuaries are especially popular in Europe. If you are a horse lover who wants to do good as well as see the world, you might thus want to consider a Europe trip after your time as a volunteer at a local horse sanctuary.
What are my tasks at a horse sanctuary?
No matter which horse sanctuary program you enroll in, you will probably be asked to work with horses directly. Depending on the skill set that you bring to the table, you might get to train horses. Of course, promoting good horse care, cleaning, and feeding horses as well as cleaning their stables will be part of your job description. Moreover, your help might be required in raising funds, too. In addition, any horse sanctuary volunteer program will afford you the chance to improve your foreign languages skills. Hence, you might want to choose a horse sanctuary that is located in a country whose language you are dying to learn or already speak a little. As a horse sanctuary volunteer, you might also find yourself doing office work or making calls. However, most of the work will be hands-on, wherefore you should definitely bring a love of horses to the table. From time to time, you might be able to help with the veterinarian treatment of horses, too. Do not be afraid to get your hands dirty if you want to spend your time volunteering at a horse sanctuary.
The pros of becoming a volunteer at a horse sanctuary
While becoming a maritime or wildlife conservation volunteer can mean entering unchartered territories, volunteering at a horse sanctuary is quite safe. You can even volunteer at a horse sanctuary in Europe! If you are thinking about becoming a veterinarian and have a special interest in horses, volunteer work at ahorse sanctuary will not only look great on your resume. Rather, it will also be an experience that you are not going to forget anytime soon. You can improve your skills while working with horses and grow as a person. If you have not traveled much thus far, becoming a volunteer abroad is the perfect way to see the world while doing good. Spending time in a foreign country without your family and friends will even turn you into a more mature individual.
Of course, volunteering at a horse sanctuary can be great fun, too. Horses are incredibly loving animals and if you treat them well, they will definitely show you their appreciation. Yet, as a horse sanctuary volunteer, you might face some challenges, such as when a horse does not trust you right away. However, overcoming these hurdles and gaining the horse’s trust will be all the more rewarding. Further keep in mind that you will be working with other horse sanctuary volunteers who will likely become your friends. In fact, these friendships might last you a lifetime.
What should I consider to choose the right horse sanctuary for me?
Since there are many horse sanctuary volunteer programs all over the world to choose from, you might be asking yourself what you need to consider. First and foremost, you should make sure that the mission of your chosen horse sanctuary speaks to you. Definitely think about what country you would like to visit as a volunteer. Depending on what foreign languages you speak, this might influence your decision. Please ask yourself what else there is to do outside of your horse sanctuary volunteer work. All in all, the following factors should be taken into consideration:
- Cost of living
- Best time of the year to volunteer
- Program requirements
- Visa regulations
- The local culture and religion
- Things to do in the area
Important things you should know
Regardless of which volunteer abroad program you choose, there are a few key things that you need to keep in mind. We want your time at your local horse sanctuary top be both productive and enjoyable. Hence, we ask you to please read through the following tips. Doing so will allow you to make sure that you are prepared for your time as a horse sanctuary volunteer.
Before you become a horse sanctuary volunteer, you need to check whether you have all of the required vaccinations. Scared horses that are new to the sanctuary might kick or bite you, wherefore it is important to be vaccinated. Furthermore, having certain vaccinations might be a visa requirement depending on where you are going to volunteer.
If you have certain allergies, you should check to see whether working at a horse sanctuary is for you. Make sure to consult your doctor about this. Additionally, you should definitely get yourself tested for a pet hair allergy. After all, this kind of sensitivity might prevent you from becoming a horse sanctuary volunteer at all.
We recommend getting both travel and health insurance. As a volunteer, you will most likely be required to sign up for health insurance anyways. Ask your contact at your horse sanctuary whether they can make recommendations regarding which health insurance plan to sign up for.
Depending on where your horse sanctuary is located and how long you will be volunteering for, you might need a visa. Note that getting said visa might require a check-up with your doctor. Furthermore, you will likely be asked to pay a fee for your visa. Getting your visa might take several weeks, wherefore it is important to plan ahead and be prepared. Please keep in mind that your passport needs to be valid for the entire duration of your trip as well as as many as 6 months from the day that you enter the respective country.
What to pack
What you need to bring depends both on where you will be going as well as the requirements of your horse sanctuary. Hence, it is best to contact someone at your program and ask for pointers. Definitely bring all of the medications that you desperately need along with personal items such as photos of your loved ones or other trinkets that will make you miss home less. On top of that, comfort foods, which come in a sealed package, are also great to take with you.