Duke of Edinburgh – Winter 2016

Our first students started their course of twelve weeks in November and were certainly up for the challenge of volunteering outside during the winter months. Eight intrepid girls came each week and turned their hands to absolutely anything during the sessions and had to deal with all weather conditions – rain, hail, sleet etc. Everything was done without a single moan. The early weeks involved not only introductions to each other, but also to the horses – and learning about 31 of them is no mean feat. The Shetlands are the first to be worked with and are the perfect introduction to the method of horse care that we use at Mane Chance. The girls quickly built up relationships with them, walking them around site, into the barn and grooming too of course. We spent a session teaching about how we spend quiet, calm time with our horses and how this helps the process of rehabilitation – the students had some lovely moments with the family and main herds.

Horse time is a really important part of the volunteering for us as it is during this that some really special moments happen – and that quality time is not only beneficial for the students, but for the horses too – their socialisation is a really crucial part of their life with us. It’s been lovely to see the confidence of the girls grow as they spent more time with the horses – even those who have experience of horses themselves were able to take some new tips and skills home!

In addition, the girls carried out some really important jobs on site – we were given an amazing donation of 420 whips to plant a hedge and the team did the entire job for us. Not only was this a new experience for them, but they have contributed to creating a lasting environmental legacy for the Mane Chance site too as we watch it grow and attract more wildlife to the Sanctuary!

Then there were the constant maintenance tasks – leaf clearing, twig collecting, water trough cleaning, field shelter preserving, fence painting and much more. All of this was done with smiles and laughter and the bond of the team became so strong and the support and assistance they gave to each other very impressive.

And if this wasn’t enough – a few of the girls put in some extra hours as they were able to help us at our annual Carol Service. They represented Mane Chance brilliantly by handing out refreshments, talking to guests about their involvement and basically were super ambassadors for themselves and the Sanctuary.

We were so impressed with all the effort that they put in and wish them all well for the rest of their studies – thank you girls for all that you have done and congratulations on achieving the volunteering section of your award. We look forward to seeing you on site again very soon!