DoinGood Review: Reece Center for Handicapped Horsemanship

21Apr10

Happy National Volunteer Week, everyone! @DoinGoodinATL on Twitter has been blowing up with new followers and lots of questions and it’s totally made my week. How could it not warm your heart a least a little to know that there are people here in Atlanta that want to know about how they can make a difference? I feel like I owe people apologies for not being a little more thorough with answers for the questions but I’ve got a project on my day job driving me bonkers. One of the questions I got asked (by my buddy @NEXTAtlanta) was about my favorite places to volunteer. I discovered a new one this past weekend!

When Drew from 48by48 tweeted to ask if I was free on Saturday to join him in a volunteer project, I wasn’t going to pass on that invite. If you’re not familiar with his story of traveling the country performing service, check out his site. Not only do I think what he’s doing is great, but it’s always such a pleasure to meet others who are as into DoinGood as I am. Besides, this was my very first tweetup, having never met any of the people I’ve randomly come across on Twitter before. And he picked a great project, the Reece Center for Handicapped Horsemanship.

Saturday morning, I loaded up the GPS (my tendency to get lost is legendary) and drove down to the Reece Center in Palmetto, which was about 40 miles from where I live in Atlanta. The Reece Center is a 100% volunteer-run organization that offers low-cost horseback riding on Saturdays for people with disabilities from 9am to about 1pm. Wow, right? As I approached, it was a very unassuming plot of land with some stable areas and a riding area. Joining Drew and I were a few other new volunteers; we all signed up via Hands On Atlanta’s easy process: log into the website, find your project by search or on the calendar, click Sign Me Up – Pow! Locked and loaded. One of the Reece Center folks gave us a lesson on how to groom the horses, using a variety of brushes and combs that rivals the collection I have in my bathroom, in order to make them look good for the kids coming to ride that morning. I have to admit: I’d never been that close to horses before and actually kindasorta had a phobia until fairly recently(!). But my anxiety melted away with how sweet these animals were; they just wanted to be pampered and cooed over. And then there was Elan…

Elan was a horse full of personality. His personality on Saturday? Stubborn! Aren’t I lucky that he’s the horse I got to lead from the stable area over to the ring? Fortunately, what this situation really was was a lesson in leadership. As leader Heather told me, sometimes the animals really are like little kids – you’ve gotta show them who’s boss or else they’ll run all over you (um…I hope not literally? *gulp*) . Every horse had to have a walker while Heather led a session that helps the riders with activities such as agility and stretching. It was actually a really neat exercise. Heather, by the way, is awesome. How she wasn’t exhausted from all of that running around and tossing the ball, I’ll never know.rider, walker, and a horse named Elanpic courtesy of Drew

Elan and I got more comfortable with each other as the morning progressed and even went on my very first horseback riding experience.

I'm on a horse!another pic courtesy of Drew – thanks Drew!

The best part of this experience for me was the riders. I met one, Lisa, who was so passionate about her love of her horse, Mulligan. She spent the longest time brushing and grooming him, having a heart-to-heart conversation with him, just making sure he was going to be the best looking horse out there. It was really heartwarming. Then later, I met Dylan, who’s training to do an equestrian event in the Special Olympics this summer. How neat is that? He was totally schooling me about how to handle the horse. This little guy proudly told me he’d been riding horses for 13 years! Then there was the way rider David came alive once he got into the saddle on Elan’s back. He was so confident and so alive on that horse. I admit, I was tearing up a little because it was so touching to watch people doing something they loved so much. Sometimes DoinGood brings out the crybaby in me.

This was a really great organization and a really great volunteering experience. And they’re always in need of Saturday morning volunteers, so please consider registering to giddy-up to Palmetto to help out. Volunteering with the classes may be good for groups, but is perfect for people who like being outdoors, are good with animals, or are good with special needs children. You can email Carol Cortino at carol4820@aol.com or sign up via Hands On Atlanta.

Advertisements


One Response to “DoinGood Review: Reece Center for Handicapped Horsemanship”


  1. 1 Exciting Developments « DoinGood In My Hood

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: