Volunteering with horses can be a life-changing experience. If you are looking to volunteer abroad as a horse lover, there are many volunteer opportunities available for you. Become active in a volunteer project that rescues and rehabilitates former circus horses, racing horses or wild horses! Another possibility is to support breeding and conservation efforts in order to save certain breeds from becoming extinct. You would love to volunteer with horses but also want to experience the wildlife and nature around you when going abroad? No problem! There are some volunteer projects that include horse trekking and horse tours as well as other conservation activities. You see, the choices are numerous and we are here to help you find the right volunteer abroad program for you!
Which opportunities do I have?
If you are new to this area, you might want to know what different volunteer opportunities abroad there are when you want to work with horses. Generally, there are four different areas where you can do volunteer work with horses: at a horse sanctuary, at a breeding and conservation program, at a horse therapy program and at wildlife conservation programs that include horse trekking as part of their activities.
A horse sanctuary is a place for abused, injured or neglected horses, and also wild horses that have been captured. Horses that are brought to a horse sanctuary get a second chance at life so you could call it a save haven for them. 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 often going to spend the rest of their lives living at a horse sanctuary, as many of them cannot be placed into new homes due to their traumatic experiences.
Breeding and conservation programs put their efforts in preserving horse breeds that are in danger of becoming extinct, like some heavy draught horses that were used for transport and agriculture in the past and are now not needed for these purposes anymore.
Horse therapy programs have proved to be a great treatment approach for disabled children and adults as well and are thus found in many countries across the world. As a volunteer at a horse therapy project, you will mainly be handling the horses and be responsible for their well-being. This includes feeding, cleaning the stables and preparing them for the therapy sessions. You will be in contact with the patients too, but your main responsibility at any time will be the horses.
Lastly, there are projects that may have a different focus that only working with horses, but where you as a volunteer will also be surrounded by them and take part in horse tours and trekking. Many projects also welcome daily visitors and offer horse tours as a source of income to fund their conservation efforts. These visitors are encouraged to learn more about the appropriate handling and contact with horses. Your daily tasks as a volunteer might thus include prepare horses for their tours, accompany them or give riding lessons.
Which animals will your volunteer efforts help?
Since the mission of most horse volunteer projects is to end all equine suffering, you might not just find horses at your chosen volunteer project. Instead, you might find yourself working with all of the following animals, too:
Where can you volunteer with horses?
There are projects rescuing and working with horses all over the world. This means that your 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 projects 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 trip to Europe
What are my tasks when I volunteer with horses?
Your tasks when volunteering with horses will vary depending on what kind of volunteer work you chose for yourself, but one thing is sure: you will be working with horses directly. Depending your skill set and your experience with horses, you might get to train them and do advanced horsemanship work. Promoting good horse care and educate locals about the correct handling of horses might be part of your job description at some projects, but no mater where you go, cleaning, and feeding horses as well as cleaning their stables will definitely be on your daily task list as well.
Your help might be required in raising funds, too. In addition, any horse volunteer program will afford you the chance to improve your foreign languages skills. Hence, you might want to choose a project that is located in a country whose language you are dying to learn or already speak a little. As a volunteer working with horses, 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. Thus you definitely shouldn’t be afraid to get your hands dirty if you want to spend your time volunteering with horses!
The pros of volunteering with horses
While becoming a maritime or wildlife conservation volunteer can mean entering unchartered territories, volunteering with horses is generally quite safe. You can even volunteer at a horse project in Europe if you don’t want to wander too far from home! If you are thinking about becoming a veterinarian and have a special interest in horses, volunteer work with horses 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 with horses 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 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 volunteers who will likely become your friends. In fact, these friendships might last you a lifetime.
What should I consider to choose the right volunteer work for me?
Since there are many horse 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 volunteer project 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 daily 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 chosen horse volunteer program to 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 volunteer abroad working with horses.
Before you become a volunteer abroad, you need to check whether you have all of the required vaccinations. Scared horses that are not used to you 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 abroad.
If you have certain allergies, you should check to see whether volunteering with horses 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 volunteer working with animals 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 volunteer project whether they can make recommendations regarding which health insurance plan to sign up for.
Depending on where your horse volunteer project 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 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 volunteer project. Hence, it is best to contact someone at your program and ask for pointers. Definitely bring all of the medications that you might 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.