About Our Horse Program
The Sunshine Acres Horse Program is an on-site, hands-on horseback riding lesson program in which the children and staff of Sunshine Acres are provided the opportunity to learn and improve their horsemanship skills. Run by a skilled team of equine professionals and dedicated volunteers, our barn is second to none in providing a safe and loving environment in which to learn, and ensuring the most excellent care for our horse companions.
While our primary focus is on safe horse handling, riding, and care, we strive to teach more than just barn applicable lessons. Our program helps instill key life skills such as compassion, confidence, teamwork and communication. Throughout their time at the barn, children are taught a system of what to do and how to find the answers they need to prepare to ride or complete chores. Our staff and volunteers are always there to guide and help, but we choose to emphasize independence and promote children learning to self-start whenever possible. Our hope is that our riders will continue these positive life patterns long after they leave our barn.
In our program, each child is paired with a volunteer mentor who assists the equestrian manager in teaching them how to work safely with horses from the ground up. During their riding lessons, children learn to catch, groom, tack up, and ride their assigned horse. In addition, riders are taught supplemental horse knowledge such as anatomy of the horse, footfalls/rhythm of the horse’s gait, proper names for the parts of tack, and much more. Children involved in the horse program are also expected to help with barn chores before or after their lesson, including feeding and barn maintenance, to help them learn not only how to ride but also many of the important aspects of care that go hand-in-hand with horse ownership. Our goal for this program is to give these children a well-rounded education and help them become competent, confident equestrians for life
Interested in donating to the Horse Program?
Horse Program Volunteers
Volunteers are the lifeblood of many of the Sunshine Acres programs, and the barn is no exception! We are blessed to have truly wonderful volunteers willing to work hard to help us provide exceptional care for our animals and individual attention in lessons for our children. Our program could not be what it is today without such immense help and support from the community!
We are often looking for new volunteers in the horse program to help with the daily work associated with care and lessons. While prior horse experience always helps, we teach you everything you need to know for these positions so volunteering is accessible even to those with little to no horse knowledge.
Generally, we find most groups take a few weeks to get on track and then they get into a rhythm that makes chores go by in a flash! A Ranch Hand never works alone. You are always paired with at least one other volunteer or staff member to help you! If you already have a group of friends who wants to volunteer on a regular basis with you, we may be able to give you your own shift. In a typical shift you will clean stalls, fill water buckets, throw hay, feed grain, and turn horses in or out depending on the time of day. Depending on your time availability, Ranch Hands can also help groom or wash the horses after chores are completed. While Ranch Hands do not often work directly with the children of Sunshine Acres, understand that through this volunteer position you are doing tremendous work to help keep this important program running for the children. Healthy, happy horses = a better program for the children. Everything here comes full circle!