Volunteering at PHAASE
Volunteering at PHAASE by Debbie
I first became involved with PHAASE in March 2009 when a leaflet was handed in at my partners shop in Frome. It seemed like the ideal opportunity to get involved with horses again. As a young girl I was mad on horses, but apart from the occasional ride, it must have been about 20/30 years since I’d had any real involvement with them so I was keen to rekindle this past love!
I went out to meet the volunteers and the horses, at the time there were 11 horses, it was such a lovely setting and to see them living out as a herd was a wonderful site. I knew I would love to get involved and help out in any way I could.
The first horse I rode was Enya, I still remember it very clearly, she certainly led me a merry dance to, recognising I was a bit of a novice and therefore a bit soft!!! But once we started the ride she was great and a lovely ride. I have to thank Enya as she taught me a great deal and put up with my many mistakes, sometimes she would just give me the look after pulling me into a hedge (She loves her food!!) or after I had made a complete mess of putting her bridle. My confidence grew though through riding Enya and the team were very supportive and encouraging!
After riding Enya for 2/3 years I started riding Toran, who I don’t mind admitting has become a very special horse to me. He is such a gentle thoroughbred who loves all the attention you can give him…..ok minty treats do it too! Toran was a very different ride to Enya, who being a fairly rounded cob felt more like a comfy chair, so it was really good for me to experience how different riding a thoroughbred would be. I feel I have formed a real bond with Toran and whilst I no longer ride him as he is getting on in years I still give him as much time and attention as I can.
At the moment I mainly ride Shadow, yes back to a cob again! I wouldn’t say she’s like a comfy chair though…but she is a really lovely ride and very willing and responsive! Unfortunately she is a sweet itch sufferer and has to put up with a great deal especially in the summer! Everyone at PHAASE has worked hard to get the sweet iche under control and she has definitely improved!
For me though, being part of PHAASE is not just about the riding. I love being around the horses and whilst I have seen some horses pass on and that’s been very sad, I know they had a good life just being a ‘horse’ doing what horses do!! I have also seen new horses join the herd, coming from backgrounds of neglect and mistreatment and I have seen them improve, become part of the herd and grow in confidence and that’s been wonderful to see and to be a part of!