CHAPS offers unique volunteer opportunity, horses that 'read people'

(Sheridan, Wyo.) — Horses can sense things. The massive but gentle animals know who is hurting, who might need a strong and silent partner, and who just needs a laugh. The horses at Children, Horses and Adults in PartnerShip CHAPS Equine Assisted Therapy are special — even for horses. Some are rescue horses. One has the equine form of diabetes, some have been nursed back to health from near starvation and others have joint issues. Others live and work at CHAPS after being donated to the program, and some are "fostered" by the non-profit. But they all work with people from around the community who need them, intuiting their challenges in a way only animals can. "These horses are amazing at reading people," Kristen Marcus, Executive Director for CHAPS said. It used to be that equine therapy was only offered for people with physical disabilities. That is not so anymore. The horses — and staff and volunteers at CHAPS — work with veterans, children and adults with mental challenges, autism, Down syndrome and other health concerns. The horses do exercises with their humans based on individual need, and often there are up to five people in the arena with a client and a horse at a time. This spring, CHAPS is doing its volunteer training, and Thursday trained two volunteers to be in the arena with clients. The biggest need is for session volunteers, Marcus said. Session volunteers are either "leaders," who are solely responsible for the horses, and "side walkers," who are responsible for keeping the clients safe. Other volunteer positions are barn volunteers who care for the horses and committee members who help with events like Third Thursday. There is also a need for "work horse" volunteers, who help with general needs at CHAPS. Future volunteer trainings will be Feb. 20 from 9 a.m.-noon and Feb. 23 from 9 a.m.-noon. Volunteers are welcome to stop by or contact CHAPS for more information. See Emily and Rowena, volunteers training on a lift with 18-year-old quarter horse gelding Sabre, alongside Marcus and trainer Christina Pescatore, here: See more photos of the horses, volunteers and facility below. [image: Inline image 2] [image: Inline image 5][image: Inline image 3][image: Inline image 4][image: Inline image 1][image: Inline image 6] *All photos Pitchengine Communities* #dally #news