As COVID-19 restrictions began to lift throughout the world an New York State, Winslow was able to begin inviting volunteers and lesson participants back to our facility. We were so excited to see faces and smiles again, and to see everyone so happy to interact with each other and the animals! Since we decided to open in a phased approach, we took the time to offer a new type of opportunity to our volunteers. Winslow staff presented a free, small workshop on communication with horses where volunteers learned how to read herd behavior, distinguish alpha horses from others, read their body language towards other horses, and better understand how they can use this information to improve their horse interaction skills.
After watching the herd interact with each other, the volunteers chose a horse of their own to approach and groom. This was a test of energy. Horses will only allow you to come near them if they feel safe and comfortable in your presence. If they walk away from you, it might mean that you have too much energy exuding and might need to check-in with yourself to see how you can make the horse more comfortable with you around. Of course, they could be walking away for other reasons, but the first step is to check-in with yourself.
What we saw were some amazing revelations that many had regarding their energy and their ability to maintain constant connection with the horse they were grooming. Some signs of enjoyment that the Winslow staff witnessed in the horses, were horses licking and chewing, hanging their heads low, closing their eyes, snuggling with their groomer. Our volunteers did a fantastic job focusing on the information being provided, working with the horses, and de-briefing after the grooming session to get their thoughts on what they felt was happening. We were so proud of their initiative and insight, ideas, recommendations and questions!
We hope to be able to offer more opportunities like this to our volunteers as a way of saying “thank you” for all that they do to support Winslow! To support our programs and continuing education, click HERE to learn more about volunteering, or to make a monetary donation of any amount, visit www.winslow.org!