Page 24


SEPT. 21, 2012


Ivey Ranch Park volunteers are key to its program Learning to go far By Promise Yee

OCEANSIDE — A few dozen cowboys and cowgirls in training gathered at Ivey Ranch Park for volunteer orientation on Sept. 15. Horses stretched their heads out over their stalls to greet the volunteers who are key to Ivey Ranch’s horse therapy program that serves the physically challenged. Last year 225 volunteers helped out. Children ages 9 and up can volunteer to be Barn Buddies. They learn to groom and feed the horses and clean equipment and stalls. “Some actually like cleaning the stalls,” instructor Bill Shoenecker said. “The majority like grooming and hands-on interaction with the horses.” Adult volunteers groom, lead and sandal horses and work as side walkers during therapy lessons. Tonya Danielly, Ivey Ranch Park executive direc-

Tonya Danielly, Ivey Ranch Park Association executive director, teaches horse handling skills to volunteer Lucy Ryall, 11, of Escondido. Photo by Promise Yee

tor, said there are lots of reasons why people step up and volunteer. “They are an experienced horseperson, like to work with special needs people, have a compassion for animals, want to volunteer — there are a lot of different triggers,” Danielly said.

Volunteer Debbie George has volunteered at Ivey Ranch for three years. “I had just retired,” George said. “I needed to volunteer and it sounded good. I had never haltered a horse before and my hand went up.” Now George leads, grooms and walks the horses. “At first I thought I was selfish. I get so much from it,” George said. “There is so much loving you get from them. When I started working with therapy kids I wanted to start crying. I saw them totally change. They were riding and they could hardly talk or walk.” Prior experience with horses or therapy work is not required of volunteers. Ivey Ranch Park instructors train and support volunteers every step of the way.

Instructors introduce volunteers to the horses and explain each horse’s personality and needs. Then they demonstrate tasks and let volunteers try their hand at them. The more experience and confidence a volunteer gains, the more tasks he or she takes on independently. “The most challenging thing is leading the horses,” Shoenecker said. “They’re big muscled animals. If you’re uncomfortable and have never done it before it’s a hard thing for beginners. If you’re calm and relaxed the horse will be calm and relaxed.” Volunteers sign up for a six-week work schedule. There is a two-week break between sessions and then volunteers can sign up again. A regular routine and familiar faces are highly beneficial to the riders who participate in therapy riding. The routine is also rewarding for volunteers and instructors. “It’s like therapy for me too,” Shoenecker said. “The ranch itself is such a claming place everyone likes coming here.” “Being out there on the ranch makes you feel so good,” George said. “I think maybe I’m making a difference for someone.” The next volunteer orientation is Oct. 27. For more information, visit

JEAN GILLETTE Small Talk If you ever need to pare life down to the basics, come hang out with some early kindergartners. I can only imagine the conversations that go on during the first few weeks of school. “Geez, Jimmy. Did your pre-school have this many rules?” “Whoa no. I don’t think so. Sure we had to line up and not run on the playground, but dang. My new teacher has a list so long she had to put it up on the wall. Yesterday I remembered 3 and 7 but forgot 1 and 9 and I am still paying for it.” “Shoot. I had just figured out how to get my mom to buy me a treat in the grocery store and how I could pinch my sister and get away with it. Suddenly none of my skills are working.” “Yeah. Then we went into the library that used to be so much fun when I could pull books off the shelf and jump off the steps when mom wasn’t watching. Boy, have things changed there. I finally find a book that looks good and the lady wants to know my last name. It was bad enough that the teacher expected me to write it yesterday but now I have to cough it up on cue?” I feel a bit guilty demanding such unfamiliar information, understanding that you have little call for a last name for the first five years of your life. Unfortunately, our computer lists them that way. Things could be worse, but they would be unimpressed that

just three years ago, the kids were expected to remember their own 4-digit library number. Uphill through the snow, yeah, yeah. It all makes rather you glad to be a grown-up. I forget things on an hourly basis, but the expectations are considerably lower.And it occurs to me that it may well be the toughest time in a young control freak’s life. Can you think back to any time when you wanted to do more, but were allowed to do less? So I try to go easy on them and I even find a few who can see the humor in it all. When I asked one cutiepatootie, “What do you need to tell me?” he glanced down at his book and said,“A Bug’s Life!” When I teasingly responded, “Your last name’s not “A Bug’s Life!” he just cracked up and said, “It might be!” Now that child will go far. Jean Gillette is a part-time editor and freelance writer longing to wear sandals again. Contact her at



$39 Cut, Style, & Deep Conditioner

Coast News Deals is your source for the best deals from local north county businesses

N @


COAST NEWS DEALS.COM Joining is Free! Sign Up Today!

The Coast News, Sept. 21, 2012  
The Coast News, Sept. 21, 2012  

The edition of The Coast News for the week of Sept. 21, 2012.