Local teens turn birthday celebration into volunteer opportunity

Elizabeth Worley, Sydney Branhan, Summer Schoening, Madison Schoening, Sasha Reyes and Lizzy Carney stand in front of the completed fence. (Stephanie Stibal photo)

Elizabeth Worley, Sydney Branhan, Summer Schoening, Madison Schoening, Sasha Reyes and Lizzy Carney stand in front of the completed fence. (Stephanie Stibal photo)

| By Karen Larsen |

ORONDO — Trusting Spirit Horse Rescue welcomed a group of teens from Cashmere Middle School on Nov. 16 who came to build and paint a new perimeter fence and spend time with the resident horses. All their hard work was part of a birthday celebration for 13-year-old Elizabeth Worley who instead of having a traditional party, wanted to give something back to the community.

“I love horses,” said Worley. “I’ve had them all my life and I feel good being around them.”

Worley’s inspiration to help the Trusting Spirit Horse Rescue started in the third grade when her elementary school teacher brought her class to the farm as part of an educational assignment. She was given the task of cleaning the water trough, something already familiar to her since she had horses at home.

When the teens arrived Saturday morning, they were given paint brushes, rollers and paint and led to the new fence posts that were already in place waiting for the fence boards. Once the fence boards arrived, they were laid out along the staging area where each side was painted. They were then carried over to the fence posts where they were nailed on and the crew resumed painting the back sides of the installed boards. The team also tackled painting a shelter in the center of the pasture using red and white paint. All in all, the group helped install and paint 130-feet of fence line at the front of the farm.

Elizabeth’s classmate, Summer Schoening, had never been to Trusting Spirit before the event. After hearing about it she decided she too wanted help out. “I really wanted to see the place and meet the people who run it,” said Schoening.

“We are so grateful to have this incredible group of horse lovers volunteer their time for a day and help us get the farm ready for winter,” said Claudia Trapp, founder and president of the Board of Directors of Trusting Spirit Horse Rescue. “We could never have gotten this much accomplished in the same time frame without their help. Their desire to donate their time and talent to charities like ours speaks volumes about the hearts and souls of these young people.”

Later, the volunteers were given an opportunity to learn about the horses’ ongoing care and were taken to meet a few of the farm’s equine residents. They were given brushes to groom them and carrots and apples to feed them. This resulted in an instant friendship between the horses and the members of the volunteer group.

According to Stephanie Stibal, treasurer and board member of Trusting Spirit, having young people work with these horses can be very therapeutic for both sides. “Many of these horses are learning to trust again,” she said. “Elizabeth has such a love and passion for horses and through her example, this group of teens connected with the horses that are still healing from their earlier experiences. It’s very touching to witness both horse and person learn from one another.”

The teens all agreed. When asked collectively why they like horses, they replied, “because they understand you, they listen to you, they don’t judge, and they don’t share your secrets.”

Worley, who has had three horses in her lifetime and wants to be a large animal veterinarian some day, added that she knows these particular horses need help. “I like what these people do for horses in need. That’s why I did this.”

Both Stibal and Trapp expressed their appreciation to the teens for their generosity. “What an honor for us to have Elizabeth celebrate her birthday at the farm with her friends and our horses, said Trapp. It was a win-win for all of us.”

Trusting Spirit Horse Rescue is a nonprofit organization established to provide equine rescue and rehabilitation as well as to offer educational services and opportunities for volunteers, youth groups and individuals interested in the welfare of horses.