A Volunteers Experience
Since the start of this year we have had the pleasure to be able to share with you stories of our rescue center. Many people because of this have contacted us informing us of how much they enjoy reading the weekly stories and several people have also asked us about volunteering.
So this week one of our volunteers has written about his experiences here at the center.
As I walked through the gates of The Easy Horse Care Rescue Centre one Sunday afternoon in February I was not sure what I would find. Yes, I had read about the cruelty and mistreatment that the horses and donkeys had suffered and the work that the Foundation was doing to help them recover.
As the gates swung shut behind me I found myself amongst many other visitors sitting at tables in the shaded garden enjoying snacks and lunch served from the onsite kitchen. Picking their way between the chairs were half a dozen chickens with three or four very friendly dogs lounging around keeping an eye on proceedings. A turkey and a pot bellied pig were also in attendance while the peacocks kept their distance accompanied by a large goose and a cockerel.
Next to the kitchen is a marquee selling Easy Horse Care merchandise. T-shirts, hats, mugs, pens, pencils, calenders, photos of the residents and assorted souvenirs. This collection along with the six local charity shops are an essential source of income for the Foundation.
On the stroke of 2pm Sue Weeding, co founder of the Centre took twenty of us on a guided tour of the garden, stables and outside paddocks explaining in graphic detail the appalling injuries and mistreatment some of the fifty three horses, ponies and donkeys had suffered at the hands of their previous "owners". This can be quite emotional so tissues and handkerchiefs are advisable.
I was so touched by the plight of these magnificent, harmless creatures that I became a volunteer there and then not quite knowing what I was letting myself in for. I could have worked in one of the charity shops but aged 66 I needed fresh air and exercise.
"Mucking out" was the term used by Sue when I asked if there was anything else I could do and I knew then it was going to be hard work, smelly and messy.
Reporting for duty the following morning suitably attired in an old T-shirt, jeans and battered hat complete with Caterpillar boots little did I now that after five hours I would go home looking like Worsel Gummidge!
I opted to clear the eleven large external paddocks of droppings, which, incidentally a horse deposits twelve times a day.
Armed with a large wheelbarrow, a large brush and a large shovel I set forth for my first appointment with two large horses in the first area. (Everything is large here )
What struck me first though was how peaceful and calm the Rojales countryside is when most sensible folk are still tucked up in bed. In recent months I have been joined by swooping swallows, our resident cuckoo, hoopoes pecking around in the undergrowth, skylarks, various small brightly coloured finches and the resident pigeons, not forgetting the aforementioned goose who even now still tries to take a piece out of my leg if I wander too near. The local farmers chug by on their ancient tractors and wave probably thinking to themselves, rather him than me.
The work is hard, well it is for me at my age, and during my shift I probably transport (push) over twenty five barrow loads of manure to the large heap situated between the farmers fields. This manure is taken by the farmers with the aid of a JCB and tractor and trailer to be used for growing their crops.
I think the horses are used to me now. Nero for instance will approach me when I enter his compound, he looks down on me from a great height and we have a chat and a cuddle. I believe it is important to talk to the horses and constantly reassure them and I give them my full attention, whether or not they have a clue what I am doing I´m not sure. Putting your arms around one of these huge animal´s necks and showing them you care is very therapeutic for me.
Each horse and donkey has it´s own unique character. Luceiro for instance only has one eye so needs to be approached on his "good" side so as not to alarm him. Dexter the huge mule uses my back as a scratching post and I can travel a couple of metres without my feet touching the ground sometimes. Bronson, who was savagely attacked with a metal bar causing massive injuries to the left side of his head needs a very cautious approach with no sudden movement. He is my hero, he really should not have survived but thanks to Sue and Rod Weeding he and all the other equines are now safe and secure in wonderful calm surroundings for the rest of there lives.
At the end of my shift I am physically worn out but very satisfied. I have dropping free paddocks, cuddles and communication with these wonderful creatures, with physical exercise to boot. I get as much out of it as I give two mornings a week and do you know what? It´s not as smelly and mucky as I thought it would be.
I am fortunate that my role as Chairman of Rojales Neighbourhood Watch brings me into contact with members of Rojales and Torrevieja Town Councils.
The Centre now has leaflets in Spanish and English in Rojales Town Hall, The Municipal Centre and Civic Centre in Quesada and the new Tourist Office in Torrevieja near the harbour.
On a recent tour of our facility the Mayor of Rojales, Councillors for Foreign Residents, Tourism and Education pledged their support to the Centre which will result in us being included in future literature promoting Rojales, the Vega Baja and the Valencian region as a major tourist attraction. There will be improved road signs with directions to the Centre, translation of information and events into Spanish, and very importantly communication with the various education facilities in the area and beyond.
Sue and Rod Weeding believe it is vital that youngsters in Spain are given the opportunity to visit the horses and donkeys to learn about their upkeep, treatment and well being. It is a well known fact that being in the company of horses can be very therapeutic to humans and there are plans in place to organise visits for disabled and autistic children.
Even now coachloads of pupils and students from far and wide visit the Centre as part of their education process. They get involved in mucking out, cleaning the food bowls and feeding the horses and donkeys. Sue and Rod receive very positive feedback from these visits as many of these children have never had the opportunity to get close and interact with these animals.
If you can spare the time and want to experience working with these fantastic creatures in a peaceful environment come and join me and the other volunteers, you will be made most welcome.
Why not come and meet all of our residents? We are open to the public ever Sunday13:00-17:00. Tasty hot food, cakes, teas and refreshments are available as well as merchandise and souvenirs; also take one of our very popular horse tours, free entry.