VOLUNTEER CHANERA PECK
"Prevent A Rescue"
Introduction: Discovering My Bubble
“There’s so much to learn and even more to consider!” This is the realization that I came to during a eureka moment on my journey at Thoroughbred Education Foundation (ThoroughbredEd). I thought that I was simply learning a little about horses. To my surprise, I was exposed to so much more. And I soon realized that even those with far more knowledge about horses benefited tremendously from the teachings of ThoroughbredEd.
ThroughbredEd provided a depth of knowledge, leadership, and awareness about preventing horses from needing to be rescued. The organization helped me discover the minuscule bubble in which I had been living all the while learning new skills and a new approach to animal welfare called Solution-Based Rescue.
Learning About Life Skills: Academic, Behavioral, and Technical
As far as academic skills go, we covered feeding, anatomy, diseases, and the different medications used for various conditions. Volunteering at ThoroughbredEd helped me immensely in preparing for my equine classes at Pierce. I learned how to lunge horses before I even started my beginning equine training class and I was also taught equine anatomy and different medications used for horses before learning it in my equine science classes
Feeding, grooming, training, medicating, and exercising horses are some of the technical skills that you can learn. I treated minor wounds and was taught how to administer laser therapy to horses. I also learned how to bathe the horses. Funny enough, bathing the horses reminds me of washing a car, especially given the fact that horses were regularly used for transportation in daily life. In addition to all of that, I learned how to care for the horses' hooves and float teeth.
Behavioral skills include body language, how to interact with animals, how to assert yourself appropriately in interacting with larger animals like horses, and more importantly, how to be a leader for others. Horses communicate through body language, and it's been so intriguing learning the ins and outs of this type of communication. At ThoroughbredEd, I've learned what subtle cues to look for, how to position oneself to safely and appropriately communicate with horses, and proper assertion. With such a large animal, assertion is imperative in order to teach boundaries and stay safe, especially with horses that have stronger personalities.
Learning how horses try to communicate with us and how to communicate with them has been enlightening. You don't realize how big of an impact you are having on this amazing animal, how they may be trying to bond with you, or what exactly they're trying to tell you until you learn their language. Learning all of this has made me appreciate horses even more. By understanding this, you learn how to be a leader for the horse as you both work and play on the same team.
Not only is it important to be able to assert yourself and be a leader with horses, but also in life as well. This is an essential life skill, one of many that you learn at ThoroughbredEd as you also work with less-experienced volunteers to pass on your skills. Along with the skills mentioned earlier, ThoroughbredEd also teaches interpersonal skills and compassion.
You learn so much while training these horses. This training focuses on teaching skills in order to become “wanted horses”. By participating in this training, you also learn a lot about yourself. Essentially, you are helping both people and animals: by teaching animals the skills they need to coexist with people, people gain invaluable life skills in the process.
If you enjoy working with children, then ThoroughbredEd is also for you. We spent a day giving children a tour of the ranch along with teaching them basic horse care including grooming, hoof trimming, and floating teeth. We also taught them about basic anatomy and why it's important to help horses. The children had so much fun during each of the activities, and left with a greater appreciation of these animals.
Learning About Solution-Based Rescue: Saving Animals & Preventing Rescues
There are so many “Unwanted Animals” due to multiple factors but most often due to behavioral issues and general lack of skills needed to live with humans. This is the core behind solution-based rescue. ThoroughbredEd’s solution-based approach focuses on the solutions to problems that necessitate animals needing to be rescued in the first place. These solutions include spreading awareness in society, educating the public, and imparting change. This change involves teaching life skills to both people and animals. Life skills are incredibly important in preparing people and animals for what life has to throw at us.
Learning About Interspecies Relationships: Hanging Out With Dogs, Cats, and Horses
Along with all of this you get to enjoy interspecies relationships everyday at the ranch. You are never short on animal love coming from cats, dogs and, of course, horses. Their relationships with one another are incredible. They drink, play, rest, explore, and hang out with their human friends together. It is astounding to watch so many different species interact so positively with each other. There's never a dull day at ThoroughbredEd.
Conclusion: The Greatest Humane Act Is Prevention
The vast knowledge base, to which I was swiftly exposed at ThoroughbredEd, helped me appreciate how much there is to know and learn. There are so many aspects to understanding horses, particularly Thoroughbreds, and how to care for them and prevent them from becoming rescues. The overall goal of this knowledge is to evolve to a “prevention culture” where Solution-Based Rescue is the norm. Every rescued animal has a story from their journey to being rescued, and they often endure suffering along the way because of it. By combating the issues that create rescue animals, we prevent the suffering that they endure on their journey. At the same time, people gain essential life skills that help ensure their own success in their education, careers, and relationships. In doing so, we decrease the “at-risk” populations of both people and animals: people helping horses, helping people.
Volunteer and help fundraise at ThoroughbredEd. You will have a great experience while learning necessary skills that you didn't even know you needed. You are constantly learning, so there is never a boring day at the ranch. You are working with horses, yet you get so much more than you bargained for from the experience, including working with the amazing mentors Dr. Ken Lian and Dr. Sheryl Fulop. It is so important to support organizations like ThoroughbredEd that not only save animals, but teach prevention along with working to build the next generation of animal welfare leaders.
-Chanera Peck, Volunteer Director, Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Class 2021