Flexibility: Medium

Social Engagement: Medium

What’s what: You can help rehabilitate neglected, unwanted horses in the United States and abroad.

Amava Take: It’s hard to believe that over 170,000 horses go unwanted each year in the United States alone. It may be a healthy horse that an owner can no longer afford, an old or injured horse, or one that’s become unmanageable. Whatever the reason, various nonprofit organizations worldwide have taken on the mission of caring for these gentle giants and they need volunteers like you. Roles can include rescue missions, ranch work, grooming, construction, feeding, cleaning enclosures and more.

From the front office:  

What kinds of candidates are you looking for to fill these jobs?

You should love horses and enjoy being outside. It also helps to be physically fit and be all-in when it comes to getting your hands dirty.

Any tips for first-timers to make it a productive and fulfilling experience?

Working with horses goes way beyond the animals so be prepared to do a variety of tasks.

What’s a typical day like?

It varies by the organization and the program, but you can expect your mornings to start early with the feeding and grooming of the horses as well as barn cleanup.

From the trenches:  

What’s the most satisfying part of the job?

Seeing a horse progress over time is so rewarding.

How would you describe the hard parts?

Ranch work is physically demanding, especially when the weather is bad. Horses also go to the bathroom—a lot!

What made you decide to do this work?

I love horses and really wanted to expand my knowledge and skills while also doing something worthwhile.  

Special requirements: The day-to-day work in the barn is tough but fulfilling, so all you need is good health and a can-do attitude. Programs abroad have fees but include room and board as well as plenty of time to sightsee and relax.

Finding a position: If you want to stay local and make this a regular part of your volunteer life, the easiest way to find an opportunity is to search using the terms “volunteer with horses” and your city and state. The Unwanted Horse Coalition has information about rescue efforts and volunteer needs. Day’s End Horse Rescue in Maryland has an extensive volunteer program, as does Sunrise in Calistoga, CA, Habitat for Horses in Alvin, TX, and Red Bucket in Chino Hills, CA. There’s also a wild mustang rescue in Florida that offers week and month-long opportunities. Horse Rehabilitation in South Africa has programs on the beach that run 1-12 weeks. There’s also a program in Italy on a farm.