"There is no substitute for hard work."
"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."
-Thomas Edison (I think we would have gotten along with Edison)
Work to Ride Program
Since the beginning of Hidden Hills, there have always been one or two young people looking for a place to belong, to build on their passion, and sometimes just to get away from poor influences or a difficult circumstances. For over 12 years, these kids have volunteered their time to help out wherever needed, for nothing in return but the pleasure of working outside, with their hands, near horses, and alongside an inspiring mentor. These have been our "vols", and we have watched many of them grow up to make something of themselves.
We now have around 10 young people (and some adults!) involved in our Work To Ride program, which now offers discounts on lessons and riding opportunities as well as other perks. There is plenty of work to be done, and we are grateful to share the load! Learn more below or download our Volunteer Agreement.
To provide an opportunity for kids 10 and up to learn responsibility, horse husbandry, and barn/farm management skills (and yes, to help alleviate Tara’s stress!)
TYPES OF WORK
There are two main jobs that volunteers help out with, though other jobs may come up. Volunteers who are also Level 3 riders and who have proven themselves to be responsible and good workers may also volunteer to help out with lower level riding lessons and summer camps.
Herd Chores: Checking on, watering, and feeding hay to (during the winter months) the 4 herds of horses at Hidden Hills (3 boarder herds and the programming herd). Volunteers will be riding on one of the farm ATVs or the hay wagon/trailer, and, when/if it is appropriate and with permission from parents, may be taught to drive the ATVs (usually not until 12 years old and after volunteering at least a year).
Barn Chores: Mucking the stalls, sweeping the aisles, filling hay and water in the stalls, and other chores that keep the barn neat, clean, and inviting to our guests.
WHEN IS CHORE TIME?
Generally, Herd Chores are from about 3:30-5:30 each afternoon, Sunday-Friday. Times are somewhat flexible, and we can usually work with our volunteers’ schedules. Sometimes, especially during the summer, Herd Chores take less time and we can get some other projects done. Barn Chores need to happen when the barn is quiet--either in the mornings or later in the evening, around dark (5:30ish during the winter, and 6:30ish during the rest of the year. Barn chores typically last about 90 minutes.
HOW MANY VOLUNTEERS WORK EACH DAY?
We generally need 3-4 volunteers each day, 1-2 for the Farm Chores and 2 for Barn Chores. During the winter, when we are feeding out hay, it is great to have at least two people working together.
Who oversees the volunteers?
Volunteers must always check in with Tara or the Chore Boss when they arrive to work. The Chore Boss may be a seasoned volunteer or another adult. However, once a volunteer has been trained in, they work without direct supervision. A checklist at the barn will help volunteers know what is to be done each day.
Can volunteers ride the horses?
As a general rule, volunteers will not be handling horses except for turning them out or occasional hosing off, wound care, catching a horse, etc. as the volunteer is able and trusted to do so. Some seasoned volunteers may have after chore riding privileges, but never should volunteers ride without specific permission from Tara and/or their riding instructor.
Are there any perks for volunteers?
Our first volunteers had few perks; they came for the love of horses and for having something useful to do. That attitude impresses us, and those types of volunteers are usually our best workers and the ones that we do our best to offer the most other opportunities for. Conversely, volunteers who come mostly to socialize or have an attitude of entitlement are not impressive to us. As the years have gone by, we have tried to find ways to compensate our volunteers for their dedication. Here are some things that we now try to regularly offer our volunteers, though specific “perks” may vary:
- Volunteers may work off 1/4 of a group lesson price for each day worked, up to 1/2 off per week. These may not accumulate past one week.
- Volunteers may also apply days worked to 1/2 off the price of scheduled practice ride times (Level 2 and 3 riders only).
- Volunteers who are Level 3 riders may also volunteer to help out with lower level riding lessons as approved by Tara or their instructor for practice rides at no charge and/or an additional 1/4-1/2 off of riding lessons (up to 1/2 off their lesson).
What is expected of volunteers?
- Let Tara know what day/days you plan to regularly come. This can change, of course, but it helps us plan if we know! If you can only work occasionally, we will be thrilled with your help but may not be able to compensate your time as we look for regular workers.
- Let Tara know at least 2 hours before your scheduled volunteer time if you cannot make it.
- Do a good job. If your list of chores is done, and done well, ask about other work to be done. We value workers who are good workers.
- Enjoy socializing with friends, but make sure your chores get done well and efficiently.
Want to join the Work to Ride (Volunteer) program? Fill out our Volunteer Agreement and give us a call to see what needs we have.