Duke of Edinburgh – Spring 2017

The spring brought us a new group of nine students, equally dedicated and enthusiastic in giving us huge amounts of volunteering hours. They too had a steep learning curve – working on a site with 31 horses is no mean feat and as usual our Shetlands took centre stage for the first few sessions as some of this group were new to the equine world. But they soon found their feet and you would not have known. The Shetlands love their Saturday teams as it means that they might get that extra groom or cuddle and especially if the head collars are brought up indicating that they might be off for a walk. This team had a really important role too as we welcomed a new Shetland pony to the Sanctuary during their time with us. This brought us up to eight ponies in this herd and so to walk them together (part of the integration process) we needed eight pairs of hands! The students gave us the help we needed and were a crucial part of the socialisation of our new arrival. But it wasn’t only the littlest of our horses that the group worked with – they also spent time and groomed our bigger herds and learnt the method we use to work with them – calm, non-reactive, mindful time which develops the human and equine relationship so deeply – it’s truly lovely to see the connection that our students made with the horses and we thank them for it.

But it was not all horse time of course during these sessions – the team also really helped us with the jobs that need doing on site to keep Mane Chance a functioning site as well as an attractive Sanctuary to spend time at. They painted our shelter and shed, picked large stones out of the fields (to prevent them getting stuck in the horse’s hooves), cleared our spinney area, piled a huge amount of wood for the fire, mowed the orchard, dead headed the daffodils and so much more.

In addition, they picked dandelions and cowslips (lovely equine treat!) and washed the water butts for the horses. We are in the process of completing a huge project to build an environmental pond at the Sanctuary and the team sowed the grass seed, which is now growing beautifully and has transformed that area into a wonderful haven that will give wildlife and humans an area to stop and rest!

And the team supported the charity too – during their time with us, we held a number of charity events which needed preparation – the girls pumped up footballs for the soccer clinic and put raffle tickets in our Lucky Pony game. A few of them also gave us some extra hours and came to support the events – working at our Easter Egg hunt or taking part in our sponsored walk.

We even managed to try something new with our Shetland herd on the final week – Shettie agility. Daisy and Teddy took to it well, some of the others were a little non-plussed that they had to actually make an effort to get a treat, but great fun was had by all in the process!

Thank you team for coming to us – please know that you helped us so much at the Sanctuary and we are very grateful for all the hours you have given to our horses. Congratulations on completing the volunteering section of your award!