What it’s like to volunteer at Riding Beyond
The individual details of our stories, we did not share. We did not need to know. By sensing together we created a place to cultivate reverence, awe, grace, dignity and respect. The courage to walk with horses, not knowing and being vulnerable, allowed us to weave together our own story, one of deep connection and belonging. Whether you are a volunteer or participant, the wisdom and magic of horses exists for you. Allow it and it will change your life. I am Jenny, a Riding Beyond volunteer and because I dared to be a part of Riding Beyond, I have grown. Thank you, Riding Beyond volunteers, participants, and of course the horses. Your courage has given me great joy.” — Jen Lieber
Immediately I was awed by the spirits of the other volunteers, all from different backgrounds and experiences yet I felt at home right away. My gifts were acknowledged, appreciated and cared for. Each person was assigned a place to be of help within their comfort level, no matter their experience with horses or cancer, for that matter. People and animals were held with gentleness, grace and appreciation. Laughter rang out, a few tears ran down cheeks, warmth exploded out of our space, (in spite of one very icy Ashland day), chickens cheered us on, and I even got hugged by a horse. What a way to spend a morning. Then we had the blessing of meeting the participants, brave women finishing a tough course of treatment and trusting us to help them take a new step on their journey of healing. An intuitive horse partner, a trained facilitator and amazing volunteers. We got to watch the magic unfold. It really doesn’t get any better.
“Join us and be inspired.
“I can also add: since I am a breast cancer survivor, I inadvertently received a healing blessing from Mystic, who took time to get to know me and nuzzled her nose on the exact area I first found my lump….how’s that for intuitive? She then proceeded to give me a horse hug, gently wrapping her beautiful neck around my leg and holding me. Guess she knew we all need love.” —Mary Piper
Riding Beyond Volunteer Jobs
Here are jobs where you might consider helping at Riding Beyond, most of them requiring an average of about 2 hours per week, more for those actually helping hands-on with the horses. All volunteers must attend a day long volunteer training and horse handlers must commit to weekly training throughout the year as needed. People work in teams of 2 or more:
The hands-on jobs include working as sidewalkers and horse leaders, committing to a minimum of a session of four meetings with two riders, starting at 1pm and finishing by 4:30 pm on four afternoons, either Tuesday or Wednesday. (We move to mornings in September.) We also conduct Saturday group sessions 9am – 2 pm, May through September, once a month. See the dates for sessions HERE. Horse handlers are required to attend ongoing horse handling sessions outside of participant sessions.
Maybe you want to help with snacks, music, and the other nitty gritty, which involves less time commitment.
Additionally, our horses benefit from regular exercise by volunteers with advanced horse experience who can attend regular horse handler training and spend about an hour or so a week doing ground work at the ranch where the horses live.
BEHIND THE SCENES
To ensure the future success of the program, we take the winter months to build the Behind The Scenes structure of Riding Beyond. This breaks down into five main areas where volunteers can help:
CLIENT FINDER/STRATEGIC PARTNER IN THE MEDICAL WORLD
Alongside the continued spreading of information to those supporting breast cancer survivors/thrivers, we need strategic partners who will be responsible for marketing and sending clients to Riding Beyond. We offer a 2-4 hour experience for those interested in taking this role, a hands-on time with Mystic and Journey to understand Riding Beyond first-hand, periodically scheduled throughout the year.
We need a few folks willing and capable to take charge of our PR campaign: schedule presentations, radio, newspaper, tv coverage, distribute posters, and utilize internet resources.
We need someone(s) with funding experience who can oversee and manage the funding and especially cultivate individual donors. This will eventually be a paid job. It requires developing contacts with individuals and organizations on a regular basis, keeping records of contacts and their status, and generally becoming an advocate for Riding Beyond with people across the Rogue Valley and beyond.
A grant writer can help write grants now that we qualify with various funding sources, having been delivering services for over 4 years and attaining 501(c)3 nonprofit organization status.
We do a crowd funding campaign, with the idea that a group can spread the intensive work that is required for about 8 weeks to have a successful campaign. Additionally, we have a Salon event and are developing an Ashland merchant campaign for October Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Starting in 2017 we have a late January Film Festival which includes a silent auction.
The program is seeking other horses to be made available by their owners for Riding Beyond one morning a week March through September in the Ashland area. Horses need to be about 14.2 hands, with strong backs, and a calm disposition in a variety of settings. Owners will be trained in how to prepare their horses for this work. Contact us for more information.
We constantly engage in creating the structure of the organization and who will do what. Someone in the role of a part time executive director would be very helpful.
Riding Beyond sessions are conducted under the highest safety standards, by a PATH International certified therapeutic riding instructor and certified equine specialist, attending to the well-being of all people and horses involved in Riding Beyond.