Down the hall: Volunteer venture more than filling hours

By CHELSEA BEALL / Guest Columnist

As an avid horse lover, it only made sense for me to consider volunteer work at Special Equestrians, located at Indian Springs School just outside of Pelham, for my school community service project.

As it turns out, I have enjoyed the program so much that I continue to volunteer every week and look forward to working with the students and horses in each class.

Kathy Claybrook, director for Special Equestrians, also provides the training necessary for volunteers to help people with mental, physical and emotional disabilities learn therapeutic riding. Volunteers range in age from 14 to adults, and they can choose schedules that fit their individual lifestyles.

Most importantly, if you have the heart to serve, it is not necessary to have horse experience. You can be trained to help in some way.

Common tasks that volunteers are asked to perform include side walking (volunteers who help the students by walking alongside them and assisting them in various activities) and horse handling (leading and caring for the horse throughout the class). Additional responsibilities are available for those looking to help with the maintenance of the horses and barn.

I have found the benefits of volunteering at Special Equestrians go far beyond the service hours earned. Volunteers are able to witness the bonding of some very special people with some very special animals.

This is one reason why some volunteers return year after year. Seeing the smiling faces of the young and old alike when riding a horse with which they have formed a bond is a reward in itself.

Special Equestrians will impact you as a volunteer, and it will be an experience that you will remember for a lifetime.

If you are looking for a community service project, or just some of your own volunteer work, please consider the worthwhile cause of Special Equestrians. The impact you make in the lives of these lovable students and the bonds formed when working with them each week are truly incredible.

Visit the organization’s Web site at for more information.

Chelsea Beall is a junior at Pelham High School