Time and Space Equine Education Sanctuary

Horse Sanctuary Student

Atajate, Spain show on map
Join our team looking after the horses and promoting the sanctuary whilst working on your natural horsemanship skills with a project horse and guidance. This volunteer program is especially suitable for:

About Us

We are an English-Spanish family, and you are invited to join us and take part in a fusion of at least two languages and cultures. Clare and partner Chico have a wide variety of experience and skills between them. Chico the native Spanish speaker runs the gardens and building projects. He also enjoys the horses and is relatively recently self- and horse-taught. Clare runs the horsemanship classes and has worked with horses for over 25 years in racing, showing, teaching, and now natural horsemanship. They have both learnt so much from their herd of horses and love to share their stories. Hopefully you will come and create your own. 

We live in a village of 150 people in the mountains. It is friendly and intimate. Even if you don't speak any Spanish, you will be welcomed as if you do. You will sleep in either a local hostel or Chico's mother's house where you can practice Spanish or sign language! We all eat together in Clare and Chico's house with their baby Stella and various other animals. The horses are just a short walk away down a track.

The Sanctuary
Clare comes from a traditional English riding background. She arrived in Spain in 2010 to work with a free-roaming herd who taught her a completely new way of relating to horses. At the same time, she was deeply moved by the plight of many of the horses and horsemanship practices. She saw horses hobbled, confined in tiny dirty stables all day, every day, and ridden in the extremely harsh serraton bridle. These two extremes represented the very best and worst of horse management and inspired the project. The sanctuary is in its infancy having moved to new premises in February 2016. There is a lot of work to do and your help is important to get this exciting project off the ground.

Our Aim
  • Inspire horse lovers and owners through open days, project partnership programs and workshops
  • Train the sanctuary's horses sympathetically, naturally, barefoot and bitless
  • Promote good horse care by creating an enriched environment for our own herd
  • Raise awareness of the requirements for a happy, healthy, emotionally and physically well-balanced horse.
  • Be in a position to work with owners and their horses to explore and share knowledge of horse behavior and welfare
Sanctuary Student Program 
Volunteering your time is a great way to experience our horses and get a sense of what we’re trying to achieve within the sanctuary. We are always looking for helping hands whether with general maintenance and within our Paddock Enhancement project, horse husbandry or helping us keep our horses fit and active through regular riding - there shall be something you can bring your skills to. You could choose to focus on one specific area or try your hand at different things. 

Each applicant will be invited into our horse training sessions where they can learn how to handle and be with the horses first then gain and develop communication and horsemanship skills. Natural Horsemanship is what we are about, so even people who have experience with horses still take this option. We look a lot more at the horse and human psychology and body language to help us learn to communicate and understand each other by responding appropriately rather than using force. This inevitably builds confidence in both horse and human and leads to more beautiful results.

You will have a project horse or two throughout your stay, so on top of your five working hours per day you will have time set aside for practice and training. We can organise that you have two full days off per week if you wish to explore the area; or you can continue playing with the horses every day; or work less hours if you prefer to work every day.
Horsemanship Workshops
We work in a natural and sympathetic way, recognising the horse’s feelings and responses so that we can gain and give confidence and the horse can learn most effectively. We also seek to resolve problem behavior through gentle understanding, and progress each horse whatever his level of training.

Students can learn through both groundwork and ridden workshops, and through handling the horse during feed times, hoof trimming etc. We have a broad variety of horses from experienced school/trail masters, to the damaged and nervous. We also have youngsters to handle and give that first vital experience of routines and being with humans. You will take on your own project horse(s) or youngster(s) to work on particular goals.

Typical Progression within Horsemanship Sessions:
There is no minimum or maximum stay on this program. To help you decide how long to stay and give you an idea of what your and your horse's weekly development may look like here is an example. This of course depends on the individual, previous experiences and amount of time and interest committed to horsemanship throughout your stay.

Week 1 - Get to know the basics of how the sanctuary operates, routines, and horses names and a feel of their characters. You will choose a project horse or two and start to get to know them better through training sessions and your own practice.

Week 2 - You will have an idea of our basic principles and techniques we use to train and handle our horses. You will start to understand how effective your body language is, and understand the horse through his, and how this is effected by different characteristics and personalities. 

Week 3 - Start to develop the foundations into fun and interesting games using the skills and communication you have learnt in the previous sessions

Week 4 - Create goals and work out how to reach them. Delve deeper into self development to bring out the best in both your horse and yourself and becoming more complex, diverse and interesting!

Week 5 and beyond - Progress in your development for a deeper level of skill and understanding. Use a variety of skills and techniques depending on the character of your horse. Learn to switch easily between them as your horses' emotions change throughout the sessions and days, and as you work with a variety of horses and their characters. This is a never ending class...

Other Areas you can get involved in throughout your stay:

Clare cooks balanced, healthy vegetarian meals and enjoys sharing ideas and skills with people that we can all enjoy! This is particularly satisfying when it is prepared with homegrown produce. Chico is a wonderful cook with knowledge of many traditional Spanish dishes passed down through generations. 

In the house and while working, we speak a mixture of Spanish and English. We are happy to help and to correct both the written and spoken word. You will get practice in all areas of work and play. Most residents in the village only speak Spanish. You will be welcomed whether you speak Spanish or not, but can practice if you choose to with locals on the streets, other family members, in the bar, catching the bus on on a trip into town...

Hoof Care 
Every horse is barefoot here and hooves have to be trimmed regularly. You will be amazed how sure-footed these horses are and how easily they move over the rocks and varied terrain. Everyone that works with, or owns horses should have a certain level of knowledge, be able to recognise a healthy balanced hoof and know what is needed to encourage this in your horse. No hoof – no horse. We see some awful cases of poor hoof care here and we are determined to raise the level of understanding. Hoof trimming is much more than just taking off the excess growth. It’s a fascinating subject that requires considerable skill.

You can learn about taking care of plants and trees native to the area. Depending on the time of year you can help with clearing the land, harvesting and preserving. As well as vegetables, we pick almonds and olives. Olives are preserved and pressed to make wonderful extra virgin olive oil. All seasonally depending, so please ask first if this is something you are particularly interested in.

Typical day

First thing in the morning we either drive or take a pretty 15 minute walk with the dogs from the village to the horses. You can either breakfast early before we leave, or take a break during work for a picnic breakfast. We are flexible! Usually when walking, on our approach we will here the horses calling for their breakfast as they hear us arriving.

First we feed the horses and do the usual day-to-day chores such as waters and poo-picking. Then we will then start training and working with the horses and other jobs we may have on the agenda. There is grooming, hoof care, exercising, training, gardening and farm maintenance/building - depending on where you choose to spend your time. There are often other commitments that we take part in locally such as training other horses or looking aster sick or mistreated animals on other premises. 

In summer we then go home for lunch and a siesta, or stay and have a picnic. There is also a pool in the village in summer. In winter we may stay all day, but start a little later. We have a  similar routine on the afternoon.  

On the evening at home we can rest, use the internet, socialise, go to the bar, listen to music, cook.... Everyone is expected to take part in home life in one way or another.

Spring and autumn are generally the most pleasant months to work in, but if you are visiting during the summer months be aware that temperatures can reach 45 degrees, and work needs to be started very early at day-break (or before) and continued in the evening. We fit into the Spanish way of life by taking siestas and eating late into the night. It can be very wet in the winter, but also sunny at midday!

Details on Arrival

The program is available all year round any start date, and any number of days, but please be prepared for weather! We can advise on suitable clothing closer to the time.

You would arrange your own transport to Atajate and there are reliable buses and trains which can bring you from the airport in Malaga. We are happy to help you plan this and we will send more information after booking. We can collect only in exceptional circumstances from Malaga.

Free-time activities

Your stay here will provide you with memories and skills you will never forget! As well as those featuring the horses, there are festivals and parties that take place in all the villages. The big water fight in Atajate is in August; there is a German beer festival in Jimera de Libar in October and mushroom festivals in November. In summer there are music and horse festivals, foam parties and more! The beautiful local ‘white villages' vary from 2000 inhabitants down to a population of less than 200 and are well worth a visit.

As well as the villages, there are towns to visit. Ronda is around 25km away and is on a main coast to city train route. It boasts a spectacular viaduct as well as many other historic sites and a variety of shops. After exploring these, the huge variety of cafes and bars will offer welcome refreshment.

If, however you prefer a break from civilisation then you will be in your element. The surrounding mountains, forests and river are beautiful, peaceful and watched over by soaring eagles. Close by there are natural sites to visit such as the Canyon of the Vultures. There are guided walks to vast caves with ancient cave paintings. A Palo-Christiano church is tucked away off the beaten track and an Arab tower is hidden in the countryside with not a tourist in sight.

The beach is approximately 1½ hours’ drive away, trips can be arranged at an extra cost on your days off, including beach and activity trips; visiting cities including Malaga and Sevilla; or special out of hours horse rides or camping trips. 

Water Sports

Program Requirements

In order to join the program you need to be at least 14 years old on the program start date.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (basic level) and Spanish (basic level)
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
You are not require to have previous experience with horses or farm work, but you will need a hard working attitude.

We are flexible and do like to make this opportunity available for everyone as we enjoy seeing people learn and develop. If you are an experienced horse person, then you will already know that you can never finish learning and that the horse is the best teacher of which we have plenty.

If you are under 16 then we can accept you with permission from a legal guardian.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday

Included Services

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Flex Option
Change your reservation at no extra costs
Refund Guarantee
We refund your fees if Time and Space Equine Education Sanctuary cancels your trip
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We cover your back no matter what happens
Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by Time and Space Equine Education Sanctuary.

Before your journey

Profound consulting and ongoing support (free)
Time and Space Equine Education Sanctuary (your host organization) provides consulting and is keen to answer all your questions. Once you reserved your spot, you will receive the contact details of your volunteer project.
Online preparation course (optional, from $49)
Prepare yourself and become a confident and well informed traveler. Global Travel Academy takes you on a journey before you leave home, helping you to become one of the world's greatest travelers. Our trusted partner for online learning offers courses in "International Volunteering", "Travel Health & Safety" and "Travel Safety Abroad".

On-site services

Services by Time and Space Equine Education Sanctuary

Fees cover accommodation, food and a donation to the herd which is used for feeding, maintenance and improvement of the horse's living conditions, insurance and program support etc. Your fees and deposit are calculated in American Dollars to book your place. As we work in euros in Spain, your remaining fees are due upon arrival and are set at 245€ per week per person to allow for fluctuation in exchange rates.

Flights, transport, days out, eating and drinking in bars are your own financial responsibility and not included in the fees. We recommend you provide your own personal accident insurance suitable for the type of activities you will be taking part in.

If you are staying longer and need to reduce costs, this can be done by joining our Sanctuary Helper Program after a minimum of two weeks on this program.


Your fees cover food and accommodation. Atajate is a village of 150 people. You will be welcomed into a traditional home where you will sleep, and you will eat with Clare, Chico, family and animals in their home close by.  Alternatively it is possible to book self-contained accommodation at extra cost. For longer stays you can use a self-contained apartment within the same price (subject to availability).

There is a pretty 15 minute dog-walk from the village to the horses.

Guest Family Hotel Bedroom (Single) Bedroom (Double) Camping
Food & Beverages

Healthy vegetarian meals, 3 per day. Sometimes there maybe the options of meat. You may be invited to help with the cooking, and can also prepare your own meals. It is possible to eat out as there are three bars in this small village! But this will be at your own expense.

Internet Access
Limited access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees. An airport pickup isn't included within the program fees either.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Malaga Airport (AGP) in Malaga. We assist you to find cheap flights to Spain.
Travel Insurance
Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for Spain provides security and is a plus to have.
If you are intending to volunteer in Spain you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Spain.
Costs: Prices in USD
1 week (min. stay)
$ 320
2 weeks
$ 640
3 weeks
$ 960
4 weeks
$ 1,280
8 weeks
$ 2,560
16 weeks
$ 5,120
50 weeks (max. stay)
$ 16,000
Average fees
$ 320 /week

You can volunteer at the project site in Atajate/Spain between 1 week and 50 weeks. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. Time and Space Equine Education Sanctuary will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Crowdfunding Service
Generally, volunteering abroad involves certain costs. In case you need financial support, we will assist you to fundraise your volunteer program in Spain.
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment will be agreed with Time and Space Equine Education Sanctuary during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

You might be also interested in

Horse Sanctuary Group Experience Atajate, Spain Time and Space Equine Education Sanctuary Agency | Time and Space Equine Education Sanctuary
An opportunity for your group to be in the countryside and gain real experience with horses whilst helping with day-to-day sanctuary work such as building and maintanance
The project site is open in: Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

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