Volunteer Spotlight with Adriana Kaplan from Saving Horses

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Written by volunteer Adriana Kaplan 

Horses are unique creatures in that they can ignite emotions and feelings in a person that no other animal can. Over the past two years as a volunteer at Saving Horses, Inc., each horse has touched me in a different and incredible way. The horses that have been on the property since I started my volunteer work have learned to trust me and have overcome whatever reservations they had towards humans. The horses that we have lost have left a part of their heart and soul with me; I feel their presence whenever I see a beautiful San Diego sunset or take a deep breath of that “horse-property smell.” And the horses that we have since rescued from a life of abuse and neglect (or worse) over the past two years have taught me what it means to be overly patient, kind, and soft with my words and actions.

Your average person wouldn’t think of horse and ponies as having personalities, but my experience as a volunteer at Saving Horses, Inc. has proven otherwise. While it takes time to draw them out of each individual animal, their individual dispositions and behaviors can easily influence our own. This is what makes them such good candidates for assisted therapy. I have seen the changes that these horses can trigger in the autistic children that participate in our equine-assisted therapy program. While emotions run rampant on the ground, on horseback the children are calm, focused, and enamored. Leading the horse and participating in the lesson has really been a life-changing experience for me.

In addition to the work I have done with the equine-assisted therapy program, feeding and caring for the horses on a daily basis is its own kind of therapy. As a CPA that works upwards of 60 hours per week during tax season, caring for and spending time with the horses keeps me grounded and relaxed. It is almost as if they realize that they have been saved from a life of abuse and neglect and now have a desire to give it back to us, their rescuers and caretakers.

Over the past two years, the horses at Saving Horses, Inc. have touched many lives, mine included. Interacting with them, forming bonds with them, and gaining their trust is a type of both formal and informal therapy. While we miss those we have lost, we take comfort in knowing that their final years on Earth were filled with comfort and love, and we look forward to the rescue of future horses that need a fighting chance at a new life.

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