Volunteers are the heart and soul of Tierra Madre Horse & Human Sanctuary. Every single morning, they can be found all over the ranch scrubbing water tubs, mucking stalls, cleaning feeders, raking up hay, moving bales into carts, sweeping, grooming, turning horses out into the arena, feeding, and—best of all—loving on each horse. Volunteering at Tierra Madre is hard work and requires a great deal of commitment. What you get in return, however, is priceless.
At Tierra Madre, we take investing in our volunteers very seriously. In addition to undergoing a mandatory equine safety course, volunteers learn our unique philosophy of natural horsemanship. This includes learning about the psychology behind why horses act and think the way they do and the importance of treating horses as our equals. Volunteers learn the art of approaching, haltering, grooming, and leading horses with very unique personalities in addition to learning about hoof care, medicine, wound care, and equine nutrition. Best of all, our volunteers are permitted to get up close and personal with the herd each and every day. We encourage volunteers to love on the horses and devote time during their shifts to just playing with their four-legged friends.
Because of the nature of our work and the extremely detail-oriented tasks completed by volunteers that pertain to the health and safety of the humans and the horses, we do have a process to ensure that a volunteer position at Tierra Madre is a fit for each applicant. We do have the following requirements of our volunteers:
1. Be 16 and older. However, individuals 15 and under are permitted to volunteer alongside a legal parent or guardian who has gone through a volunteer orientation and training. The parent or guardian MUST be with their child during volunteer shifts at all times.
2. Commit to no fewer than two volunteer shifts a month. This averages to two times a month. With procedures constantly changing and a diverse herd of horses with complicated medical and nutritional needs, we need our volunteers to be continuously aware of current happenings at the ranch.
3. Be very detailed oriented. Things like an unlatched gate or a water tub that didn’t get filled can be the difference between life and death. Tierra Madre volunteers are expected to pay very close attention to small details that are actually big details.
4. Love horses. While horse experience is preferred, it is not required, and our biggest joy is when the volunteers who walk through our gates LOVE horses and are excited to learn!
Volunteer shifts are from 7:30am – 11am, though volunteers are permitted to come earlier if they prefer. Tierra Madre is open every day of the year and shifts are needed all seven days throughout the week.
Steps to Becoming a Volunteer
Step 1: Fill out a volunteer application. You can fill the application out HERE. You will hear from us within one week.
Step 2: Your application will be reviewed, and we will respond to you via email or phone to schedule you for a volunteer orientation. If you have questions or concerns for us about volunteering (which we encourage!), this is the time to ask.
Step 3: You be schedule for and attend part one of your volunteer orientation. Typically these are held on a Saturday between 8:30am – 10am. During the first part of volunteer orientation, we go over the history of Tierra Madre, take you on a tour and introduce you to the horses, go over policies and procedures, teach an equine safety 101 course, and talk about our unique natural horsemanship philosophy.
Step 4: After your first volunteer orientation, you are then requested to schedule your second orientation. This one-on-one training day takes place on a day of your choosing between 8:30am-11am and you will be walked through all the different tasks completed by volunteers: mucking, scrubbing and refilling waters, cleaning feeders, making mashes walking horses to the arena, etc. This is a day for you to begin to learn our morning schedule and how we do things. This process takes time; you will not be expected to learn everything on this day!
Step 5: After your second orientation, you will be added to our scheduling program where you will let us know which days you would like to volunteer. As long as we see you a minimum of twice a month, you get to decide what days to come. Unless otherwise given permission, volunteers are expected to stay their entire shift, from 7:30am – 11am. You will additionally be given a digital copy of Tierra Madre’s volunteer manual for you to review on your own time.
Step 6: You come in for your very first day!
Begin the process of joining our volunteer family by sending in your application. Click HERE.
Thank you for your interest in being a part of our team!
It is the policy of Tierra Madre Horse & Human Sanctuary to ensure equal volunteering opportunities without discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, disability, marital status, citizenship, genetic information, or any other characteristic protected by law.