Every week, members of Friends of H.O.R.S.E. Rescue dedicate time and energy to help horses in need. Partnering with the H.O.R.S.E. Rescue and Sanctuary in Pavilion, Geneseo students volunteer to feed, groom and rehabilitate abused horses.
Erin Kelly, a senior and president of Friends of H.O.R.S.E. Rescue (H.O.R.S.E. stands for Help Our Rescue Save Equines), explained that a large part of FOHR's purpose is not only physically rehabilitating horses, but also getting them used to human contact again and regaining their trust.
"Many of the horses have been abandoned, abused or neglected and some have trust or behavioral problems because of this," said Katie Del Rosso, a sophomore and secretary of FOHR. "Through our interactions with them we hope to help rehabilitate them so that they can eventually get adopted out to a loving home."
In addition to helping the horses, fundraising plays a big part in the club because FOHR is non-profit and funds are tight.
Most members go out to the rescue for one weekly shift.
"A shift is made of 2-5 people that carpool out to the rescue," said Del Rosso. "We have two shifts a day, seven days a week.
Del Rosso said a shift is usually about two hours, and involves feeding the horses, changing water buckets, mucking the stalls, grooming horses and helping out with other work.
Kelly explained that with the new semester, trips are happening a little differently.
"We're going back to doing 'excursions,' which are bi-weekly with larger groups of people," she said.
The goals of excursions are to get more large-scale projects done that could not be completed, due to time or resources, in a regular shift.
"Excursions allow club members to spend some quality time together and bond," Kelly added. "...some of the best experiences come from just going out to the rescue and building something, learning new things, or just playing with the horses."
While the wintertime terrain in Western New York does not provide the most ideal conditions for outdoor manpower, members are not deterred from working with the horses due to the many fun and memorable experiences associated with helping out at the rescue.
Heather Burrowes, senior and vice president of fundraising, recalls a fond memory of helping a horse that was in need.
"There was a horse at the sanctuary last year named Spirit, who came in with a really sketchy history," said Burrowes. "One day, he actually took a step closer and let me scratch his ears and pet his neck. It was just really cool to know that he trusted me enough to come closer."
"You definitely have your favorite horses when you go out [to] the rescue and it's just fun to watch them over time," said Del Rosso. "There have been lots of funny interactions between the horses over the semesters, watching them play and tease each other. They all have their own personalities."
Aside from the joy received from helping the animals and bonding with them, there are a few instances where the unexpected has occurred.
"The president [of FOHR] at the time put a carrot into my back pocket, and a horse came up to steal it from me, but also grabbed onto my jeans at the same time!" said Kelly. "I think I'm one of few people to say I've gotten a wedgie from a horse."
FOHR is always looking for new volunteers. Students interested in joining can fill out the necessary paperwork at the organization's Web site (www.geneseo.edu/~fohr).
Executive board meetings for the club are in the Union, every Monday at 8:30 p.m., but all are welcome.