Sound Equine Options (SEO) is proud to announce it received a $4,000 grant from the ASPCA Equine Fund to expand its VEEP (Volunteer Equine Education Program) training program.
"This innovative program has dramatically reduced our training costs while successfully training more horses to a higher level--including walk, trot and canter under saddle--more quickly," said Elisabeth Wolff, SEO president. "It is a life insurance policy for the horses we rescue."
To help ensure stronger matches with potential adopters, SEO has provided training for all adoptable horses since 2011. Training included ground manners, desensitizing, and whenever possible, riding. Training costs $400 per month per horse and SEO worked with 9 different professional trainers. It took anywhere from 90 days to more than a year, depending on the horse and trainer.
"Saving a horse and refeeding it is the easy part," said Kim Mosiman, SEO executive director. "Good training makes our horses much more desirable and reliable partners, which leads to more successful adoptions."
In June 2014, SEO began a pilot program called VEEP (Volunteer Equine Education Program) to teach select volunteers natural horsemanship techniques under the guidance of Stacey Riggs of Riggs Training, an award-winning trainer. VEEP horses are also boarded at her facility, Eagle Creek Equestrian Center, LLC. Volunteers attend 2-hour group lessons every other week and commit to working with their assigned horse a minimum of 3 days a week for a total of 6 hours per week.
"Natural horsemanship focuses on creating a bond of respect and communication," said Stacey Riggs, SEO Director of Training. "The result is a solid partnership and connection between horse and rider. It builds a horse's confidence and is the fairest way to communicate with your horse."
The training program has also resulted in several unforeseen benefits. Having SEO's horses at a professional trainer's facility allows volunteers access to one-on-one assistance when necessary. SEO horses are now getting handled and desensitized by a greater number of people, and volunteers assist and support each other.
"Having several adoptable horses at one facility makes it easier to arrange meetings with potential adopters," said Kelly Burke, SEO vice president and head of SEO's adoption program. "We want people to see that well trained rescue horses can be just as successful in the ring and on the trail as any other horse."
"We are deeply grateful for this generous grant from ASPCA, said Elisabeth Wolff. "It will allow us to give health and purpose to more horses in need."
“The ASPCA Equine Fund awards life-saving grants and resources to nonprofit equine welfare organizations across the country,” said Jacque Schultz, senior director of the ASPCA Equine Fund. “We are pleased to award this grant to Sound Equine Options to assist their horse training efforts and increase adoptions so more horses can find homes.”