Montessori children visit the ranch

Joyful Scholars Vivian McDonnell, Sadie Steffen and Seleah Hisey interact with a horse at Trusting Spirit Horse Rescue May 16. (Anni Hisey photo)


By Karen Larsen

Claudia Trapp, founder and chairman of Trusting Spirit Horse Rescue, wasn’t sure how a group of elementary school students would react to being given the chore of cleaning poop out of the horses’ stalls.

To her surprise, a dozen students from Joyful Scholars Montessori School in Wenatchee rolled up their sleeves May 16 and got right to work. Trapp said that the students all seemed to want to have the chance to help out with this often unpopular chore.

“That was fun. That was really fun,” Trapp said laughing.

The Joyful Scholars Montessori School started in the fall of 2013 and operates in the basement of The Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center. One of the key focuses of Montessori education is to teach children to care for themselves and for their environment. They also learn to work together as a community to keep their environment tidy and to accomplish learning tasks.

Teacher Cara Hackenmiller said that at school the students all have jobs, including vacuuming, cleaning the bathrooms, wiping tables and tidying the classroom. So to the children, who range in age from 3 to 12, pitching in to muck stalls, clean troughs and rake hay for half of their field trip day was nothing unusual.

Hackenmiller said during the field trip that if the fit seemed good for both the children and Trapp, she and her fellow teacher Anni Hisey would bring the students to Trusting Spirit about once a month as a school volunteer project.

At the end of a day of helping with chores, learning about the history of horses and watching horse training in action, the children were happy to make this commitment, giving Horse Rescue publicity coordinator Cindy Wall a resounding thumbs up when asked if they wanted to come back.

Several students also volunteered to share with the whole group what they had learned during the day. “It made a lot of room in my heart for horses,” said Seleah Hisey.

“I learned to not treat your horse bad,” said Landin Hackenmiller.

Asked how the children felt about making a regular volunteer commitment, Cara Hackenmiller said, “The children get that. They understand that there are people and animals in need.”

Trusting Spirit Horse Rescue is a nonprofit organization which seeks to provide a safe home for horses that have been abused or neglected. It seeks adopted homes for some of the horses that have been rehabilitated.

Trapp said of the Joyful Scholars’ help: “They did amazing work. It’s something we wouldn’t have got done today.”