For the City Times
Submitted by Angie Loucks, United Way Volunteer Director
Abby Wogahn’s love for horses is evident as she brushes her 12 year old horse, Pisco, at Palo Verde Training Stable in Wisconsin Rapids, just down Washington Street past MSTC. Her love for horses grew from there and also when she started volunteering at Jeremiah’s Crossing in Babcock.
Jeremiah’s Crossing, a United Way partner program, is a non-profit organization that offers equine assisted horseback riding lessons for children and adults with diagnosed physical, cognitive, emotional and academic special needs at no cost to the riders or their families. The program has been credited with successes such as: riders who require a walker building up their core strength and walking independently; and riders with cognitive disabilities bonding for the first time with the horses.
Jeremiah’s Crossing relies heavily on the help of volunteers for everything from gardening and grounds maintenance, to newsletter helpers, to construction of bunkhouses. When Abby offered to help at Jeremiah’s Crossing – and brought along her friend Julia and cousin Alec – they were thrilled.
Starting at the beginning of summer, Abby volunteered three days a week, every week (when classes weren’t cancelled due to weather).
“We got the tack out for 17 horses, and then chose a horse and started grooming,” said Wogahn. “Then we would walk them to the arena where we were assigned as horse leaders and side walkers, if needed. Side walkers are used if the rider has no core strength and are not good at steering. Otherwise, the riders can go independently.”
“Each lesson takes from 30 to 60 minutes. There are games like barrels and poles they can walk around,” said Wogahn. “There are usually about six riders –or less – at a time in the arena. Afterwards, we take the horses to the stable, untack them, put everything away and brush the horses.”
Abby found out about the volunteer opportunity at school, when she saw a booth for Jeremiah’s Crossing outside the cafeteria.
“I thought it would be fun, and something to do during the summer,” said Wogahn. “I like working with horses and it helps the riders have fun. I feel like I’m helping people when I do something for someone else and not expect to get anything back.”
To learn more about how you can volunteer for Jeremiah’s Crossing, or any other volunteer opportunity, visit www.volunteerinnerwisc.org or call the Volunteer Center at 715-421-0390.