the organization I volunteer with is exploding in drama and rage-quitting — what should I do?

A reader writes:

I’ve always loved horses and owned two for several years. A few years ago, after my last horse died of natural causes, I reached out to a local not-for-profit that provides therapeutic horseback riding lessons for veterans, physically challenged children and adults, etc. to donate leftover feed, saddles, etc. I was really impressed with the volunteer coordinator and the program, and I volunteered to help out with lessons. I went through the training and was looking forward to getting my “horsey” fix in after missing my boy for several months, and worked for exactly five lessons before one of the newer therapy horses was assigned to me. I had been told during my training that the horse’s trainers weren’t confident he’d be a good fit for the program but never told why. Well, I soon found out because this new horse spooked, bolted, tossed his rider, and ran me into a fence. Very bad scene — fortunately the rider wasn’t hurt, but since my responsibility was controlling the animal, I felt terribly guilty, even though I did everything I could think of the try to stop him, literally throwing my body in front of him. I was in a lot of pain, noticeably limping back to the barn, and was later diagnosed with a torn ACL and a minor fracture.

The volunteer coordinator, Lydia, called me right after the accident to get my statement for the insurance, and I mentioned that I had initially been assigned to a different horse, but was taken off him and put on the newer one. She said, “I thought you’d be able to handle him.” This hit more like, “With all the experience you’ve had, we figured you could control this maniac.” I told her I’d injured my knee, but didn’t realize the extent of the injury at the time and never told her. She never contacted me directly again.

I stayed on the volunteer emails but didn’t respond to volunteer requests for a couple of years while my knee healed. I’ve recently retired and was thinking of reaching out again for a different role, maybe cleaning stalls or working on the ground with the horses, until this past week. My inbox has been blowing up with emails starting with Lydia’s sudden resignation over “several changes to the program” that she did not agree with. Volunteers and teachers expressed surprise and confusion.

Finally the new president of the board emailed to explain the changes that were being made, which seemed … not unreasonable (staffing the office in-person, having more than one person on-site at a time, using a lift for students unable to mount the horse independently). But then Lydia sent a message through one of the remaining volunteers to give her side of the story and the stuff hit the fan! She’d been working a hybrid situation for 10+ years and her family situation prevented her from being in-person in the office full-time, but she was given an “ultimatum” to be in person four days per week and didn’t agree with other program changes, such as servicing certain students but not others with different abilities who had previously always been in the program. Again, not unreasonable, but long-tenured volunteers and teachers began rage quitting. I’ve never seen so many hysterical emails, obviously written under much emotion.

But the kicker was the final email from the president of the board, sent early yesterday morning after no teacher or volunteers showed up for lessons the night before. She “wanted to make sure (she) congratulated (volunteers) on not making this about the population (the program serves) but about (Lydia).” Her tone was obnoxious and hostile (i.e., “thank you for disappointing these families” and accusing volunteers of not caring about the families and students). More rage quitting emails followed.

I suspect today’s email to the volunteer group has been written by someone else, because it is more business-like and less emotional. While I still believe in the value of this program, and I don’t have a lot of skin in the game over Lydia’s resignation, red flags are flying about ever reaching out again. I’m not wrong about this being incredibly toxic, am I? Should I sit back and wait to see how things shake out, or write (privately) to the president of the board with my own experience? There will obviously be a lot of newer faces and maybe this is a chance to help this program grow in a new direction, but the reaction of the president is alarming.

Oh no. You’re not wrong: it is indeed incredibly toxic all around.

I’m sure the president is very frustrated — by Lydia using the organization’s email list to rile up the volunteers (and more than once!) (and why did she even have access after the first email?), by the rage quitting, by the drama swirling around all of this, and by teachers and volunteers not showing up for lessons — but part of her job is to handle that frustration professionally and privately. Her email “congratulating” volunteers on “making this all about Lydia” is over-the-top inappropriate for her position, and was like throwing kerosene on a fire. Her job is to minimize drama, not add to it. But she chose to add to it.

So just … bad choices all around in this organization, and no sign of mature or steady leadership.

Given all that, I don’t think there’s a ton of value in you contacting the president with your own experience. The president comes off poorly here, and there’s no reason to assume she’s a thoughtful steward who would benefit from hearing your experience and perspective. I do think there could have been value in sharing your concerns right after your injury. But since it’s been a few years and there’s capital-D Drama imploding right now, I’d leave it alone. She’s also probably not currently  in a position to make good use of whatever feedback you offer; at this particular moment, it’s all likely to feed into one agenda or another, and you won’t be able to tell from the outside if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

Sit back and wait to see how things play out before you consider staying involved. If new leadership steps up, or maybe if this president seems to right things in time, you could consider being involved again. But there are tons of other volunteer causes that are well-equipped to use your time and skills; unfortunately, right now this isn’t one of them. Which sucks, because they have a great mission (and I assume they might be the only such organization local to you). But wait for the drama to die down and then assess if you want to stick even a toe back in.

Read an update to this letter.

{ 234 comments… read them below }

  1. Ominous Adversary*

    What’s going on with that insurance and with your injured knee? With all this chaos, LW, I’m worried about whether accurate information got to the organization’s insurance company, and whether your medical and other costs will be covered.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      The knee injury was years ago. Working in workers’ comp and personal injury, my ears also perked up at that part. I take it that the situation was resolved to the LW’s satisfaction, however that was accomplished.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        I had to reread. I thought they blew her off totally, but just Lydia never contacted her again. That’s a little better. But torn anything is a gift that keeps giving, and OP already knows they do not care about her safety.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          Lydia never contacted her “directly.” I take this to mean the LW then dealt with an insurance adjuster. If I am mistaken, and they totally dropped the ball on this, then yeah, that is a big problem. Given that this was “a few years ago,” it likely is past fixing, legally speaking.

      2. Ominous Adversary*

        I hope it was, too. An unreliable volunteer who put LW into the bad situation in the first place and then blamed her for the outcome is not someone who can be trusted to promptly report the incident to the appropriate parties.

  2. Maxine*

    You were injured as a volunteer and nobody cared. That tells you about their values when it was going (presumably) well. Wait and see if the organization improves after this has blown over. Because I am not convinced this organization will be a phoenix.

    1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      Not just injured as a volunteer, but low-key blamed for the injury. “I thought you’d be able to handle him.” WTF? I mean, how many stories do we hear about very experienced horsemen (and women) who sustain life changing injuries in even the most controlled circumstances (Victor Espinoza – Triple Crown winning jockey of American Pharaoh – immediately comes to mind, google it if you’re unfamiliar with the story). This group set OP up to fail and then BLAMED HER for it. Awful awful stuff.

      1. ArchivesPony*

        So many experience horsepeople are injured. You’re working with an animal with a mind of it’s own and 1600 pounds (or more).

        1. Pippa K*

          Unfortunately true, and there’s a common mentality of “we all get injured doing this; work through it, don’t be a princess, it’s fine.” And a tendency to ascribe responsibility for most mishaps to the rider/person working with the horse: “horses are going to be horses; if it went bad, either you didn’t see it coming and prevent it or you didn’t respond right.” Sometimes this latter outlook is a useful mindset, honestly, but it should be *nowhere near* a therapeutic riding program that isn’t assessing its animals appropriately. This program, specifically, sounds deeply irresponsible toward the horses, the riders, and the staff. I’d stand well back and not touch it.

          I hope OP can find another therapeutic riding program or rescue charity to support with donations if not volunteer labor. There are a couple of great groups near me, and since I can’t lift hay bales anymore (see above, “we all get injured”) they get my money instead. Not as satisfying but still important to do.

        2. Worldwalker*

          A mind of its own *and the psychology of a rabbit*. And the laws of physics on its side.

          People forget that. People see an animal much larger than they are, and forget that it’s a prey species, and thinks like a prey species. “Run away first, ask questions later” is key to a horse’s survival in the wild. “That thing on my back is a cougar attacking me; throw it off and stomp on it” is up there, too.

          Horses can learn to overcome those instincts. But that’s still learning overruling instinct, and in a crisis, the instinct can come to the fore. Inevitably, if you’re around horses long enough, that situation will arise.

          1. CommanderBanana*

            Yup – same reason why moose are freaking deadly. Their response to pretty much anything is to stomp on it, repeatedly, then flee.

          2. ArchivesPony*

            My horse friends and I joke that horses should not have evolved. They can’t throw up, they can barely digest grasses, and their legs suck LOL

            1. Elizabeth West*


              Also everything scares them, which isn’t great when you’re talking about such a large animal.

          3. OMG, Bees!*

            Yep, and 1600 lbs is on the low end for an animal that is anxiety on legs.

            I also want to add that historically, horses have been used as cavalry charges into groups of people until as recently as WW2 (although not that well in that war).

        3. Clisby*

          Yes – my niece is an exercise rider for a racehorse trainer, and once had a horse brush too close to a fence? barn? while she was on him and she broke her femur. She’s back in the saddle after some months on crutches, fortunately. (And it didn’t sound like this horse was even hard to handle – it just went too close to something while a human was riding.)

      2. Jack Russell Terrier*

        Right – blamed for a horse she’d never met that was supposed to be a therapy horse but was skittish and spooked and bolted. This horse was in no way ready (if ever) to work as a therapy horse.

        1. run mad; don't faint*

          Yes, when I read that, my first thought was, “Please tell me they didn’t put a client on that hor-oh, they did! WHY??” That horse shouldn’t have been anywhere near a client until they were certain it would do well. I’m sorry OP was hurt because the admin were so careless.

          1. Worldwalker*

            With therapy horses, you’re never unsure if they’re suitable.

            Either you’re sure they are, or they aren’t. There’s only “yes” and “no” not “maybe”.

            1. run mad; don't faint*

              Very true. I’m horrified that they were so reckless with both their volunteers and their clients. The other statements about not having a lift or not having more than one person onsite are just part and parcel of this. OP should turn their energies elsewhere.

          2. Zap R.*

            Yeah, they not only put OP in danger but the client as well. Dangerously stupid.

            I’m sorry you had to deal with a torn ACL, OP. They’re no fun at all.

        2. Mockingjay*

          My daughter worked for a therapy barn for a few years; I volunteered occasionally. The org got calls daily with offers to “rehome my horse for free; it’d make an excellent therapy horse.” No, no it wouldn’t. There were administrative problems with this org too; the program director was eventually fired for mishandling donations and other issues. Her one redeeming feature: she was adamant about ensuring only very calm, steady horses were used in the program.

        3. horse girl grown up*

          Right, holy SMOKES but this should have been a huge red flag for the program as far as the management goes, since Lydia’s comments indicate she knew the horse might exhibit this behavior. Horses are horses, but for a therapy program, I would argue it was negligent and goes against all good practices to put this horse with known issues in the program at all.

      3. Banana Tuxedo Junction*

        All I can think of when I hear about equestrian injuries is this one Twitter thread from a while back by a trans woman, where she said that according to some doctors she had spoken to, horseback-riding is maybe one of the riskiest things a young person can do to obtain a lifelong debilitating injury. (The context was that it was about ten thousand times more dangerous than gender-affirming surgeries, but because horseback riding is an “accepted” part of girlhood, a ton of parents just send their children in to work with extremely strong and strong-willed animals without thinking twice.)

        Obviously, people engage in risky physical activity all the time, but horseback riding is not recognized as the dangerous sport it is. I would rather send my hypothetical future child rock-climbing with Godzilla after top surgery then put them on a horse. This is true for all levels of experience, and there is no way to completely mitigate the risk. Victim-blaming someone for an injury like this isn’t just cruel, it’s borderline incompetent regarding the inherent risk of the organization’s venture. It’s like telling someone that if they don’t want to get stabbed, they shouldn’t have run through your hallway of rotating knives.

        1. CommanderBanana*

          ^ This. Every equestrian I know has had at least one serious injury, several of them life-changing injuries, while riding. And these are people who are serious equestrians who had their own horses and had been riding for years.

          1. planetmort*

            This is so true. I have a few horsey friends and they all have had pretty serious injuries at some point, and one had a very serious life changing injury (she is paraplegic now). I think it’s fine for people to choose risky hobbies, but somehow horseback riding doesn’t seem to have a reputation commensurate with its actual injury rate.

            1. Boof*

              When I was little, I thought horseback riding sounded so cool. I asked my parents, one of whom is a doctor, the other an engineer. They said “OH HECK NO TOO DANGEROUS”. I did martial arts instead. I do not regret my decision.

        2. Reluctant Mezzo*

          I signed up for a gentle ride at a resort (and Bill was gentle, God love him!). But the guide made fun of me for wearing a helmet, and then entertained me with all the concussions he’d suffered. Oops.

          1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

            Ha! If you were a REAL guy/gal/non-binary pal, you’d show your dedication by giving yourself many traumatic brain injuries, just like me!

          2. Quill*

            A helmet never occurred to me, largely because I’ve never been offered one (went actual horseback riding about three times ever) but you fall much higher from a horse than a bicycle! They absolutely should be standard!

            (I have always ridden suitable horses for someone with zero training, except the once I had to be carted the rest of the way up a mountain. That was a horse to watch out for.)

        3. STAT!*

          Even without Godzilla there, I still wouldn’t let any child of mine go rock climbing. I personally know four people injured from falls. Two got only broken bones. One was killed. One sustained severe permanent brain injuries that changed her from being the smartest teenager in school to a person who can’t toilet herself. I hate rock climbing.

    2. Jujyfruits*

      Yeah. They gave OP (a volunteer) a difficult horse that they were questioning would be a good fit for their program, didn’t tell OP why, and when she was injured (!!) brushed it off as her fault. And that was before things imploded!

      OP, you sound like a good person who wants to share your expertise with horses and help others. Please find an org that will treat you with respect. You deserve so much better.

      1. Worldwalker*

        That will treat you with respect.
        And the clients.
        And the horses.

        None of these are happening here.

    3. BethRA*

      Also, absolutely set up for failure/injury in the first place – they assigned OP a horse that had obviously shown some seriously worrying behaviors, and didn’t give OP the relevant information or even time to get to know/test out the animal. Which, holy cow, could have resulted in an absolute tragedy (OP’s injuries were serious enough, as it was, but had a disabled or just inexperienced rider gotten thrown or rolled on? Yikes)

      And then blamed…

      1. Hannah Lee*

        Yeah, I can’t imagine why ANYONE would have done that. Like, whoever is going to be handling that animal should have been in several practice sessions, with someone playing the role of client, doing all the random stuff clients might do while an experienced staff handler leads the horse and the director or senior person watching to make a decision whether to even try to work with that horse in that program. And then several more sessions when the person who will be using the horse with a client can work with the horse, learn its quirks. But there is NO WAY that LW or the client or the horse should have been put in that situation – all in danger and all set up to fail through NO fault of their own.

        I can guess why it happened though – years ago I showed up at my riding class and was told “oh, we forgot to bring Missy (they sweet mare I’d been promised to ride that week) in from pasture, so we’re going to let you ride Buster, the new border instead. He’s a little high strung and this will be his first class, but we think you can handle him because you’ve been doing so well”

        Well, Buster was skittish when I was tacking him up, so much so that the trainer had to tighten his girth when we got into the ring. Then he was skittish when I was mounting, so someone had to hold him from each side. Then he spooked when another horse kicked a rail on the ground as he was going around the ring, completely lost it. I managed to stay on for a bit, but I fell off when the saddle slipped (apparently the girth was not tight enough after all … I should have never mounted a horse when I didn’t check the girth myself, but I figured the main trainer knew what they were doing)
        Broke my arm, and that was my last lesson ever at that place. Because I realized in retrospect, that horse had NO business being a lesson horse, they had NO business putting me on it and they were just trying to make do with the horses they physically had available (even if they weren’t temperamentally fit) because THEY screwed up.
        Bad Bad Bad.

      2. sparkle emoji*

        Yeah, the fact that this charity under Lydia’s lead was accepting reactive horses while also working with disabled clients seems like a recipe for disaster. Obviously, you’d want a calm horse for any therapy program, but when the riders have a physical disability that could limit their ability to get off and away you quickly need the most relaxed horses imaginable. Not to indulge in fanfic, but I wonder if the charity had a disabled client injured and that’s why so many changes were made?

    4. Rainy*

      Organizations are not responsible for the well-being of volunteers in the same way they are for employees, and they will definitely exploit that distinction.

      My employer has a couple of events every year where they ask for volunteers from the community and also “voluntell” employees to do volunteer shifts, and they used to call us “volunteers” and require us to sign a release explicitly saying that we were volunteers…until someone was badly injured in the course of this required work and required surgery and the organization tried to refuse to pay for it because the injured employee had signed a volunteer release. Unfortunately for the org, the injured person and their manager were able to provide many emails from higher-ups laying out requirements for how many “volunteer” shifts had to be completed by every employee.

      1. Ominous Adversary*

        Organizations can be sued by volunteers in a way they can’t be sued by their direct employees. They play on their Good Intentions and fake-ass waiver forms in the hopes that volunteers don’t know that.

        1. Rainy*

          I used to volunteer for many shifts during this event, and I pretty much stopped. I do the absolute minimum I can get away with now, and I only sign up for specific types of shift. The higher-ups in charge of these events showed us how they feel about us, and they absolutely lost any good feeling I used to have. If I could manage it I would do nothing.

    5. FisherCat*

      Horse related organizations – business, nonprofit, hobby, etc are widely considered dysfunctional for a reason. If LW has spent a lot of time in and around that industry her norms are probably somewhat warped (mine are!) but I agree this org is unlikely to improve significantly.

      1. Sloanicota*

        TBH, as someone in the animal space … these are often not the most professional organizations – which doesn’t mean they don’t do great work! But emotions tend to run high and because everyone involved is SUCH an animal lover, and the need so great, that there’s an ongoing lack of practicality or common sense. Which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t volunteer or donate, but does mean you have to have a high degree of self-preservation and boundaries. Because lots of folks involved will not.

  3. Antilles*

    Wait, is OP even volunteering with this organization? The title makes it sound like OP is currently part of this organization, but it sounds like since the injury a couple years ago, she’s not really involved.
    To me, that’s a pretty important question. If you’re already involved, you would have credibility to reach out to other board members, maybe some key volunteers, etc and maybe help things settle out…but if you haven’t been involved since the injury, I’m not sure you’d have any ability to “help grow the program in a new direction”; you’re basically an outsider.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      I was reading it as LW was not involved for a couple of years while her injury healed; during that time she was only on an email list.

      But either way, volunteers may not have a lot of voice here, other than to quit; this really varies from organization to organization.

    2. nm*

      I interpreted this as OP had been away for several years but was about to return to the volunteer program, and is wondering whether returning now is actually a good idea.

    3. Spero*

      Frankly the fact that she hasn’t volunteered in a few years and yet is still on their active volunteer email list is a red flag for dysfunction. If a volunteer goes silent you either re-engage them or remove them from active status.

  4. MommaCat*

    This might depend on the state, but if you were injured during a volunteer activity, you should have been covered by worker’s comp. I certainly was when I was injured while volunteering, though that was in the 80s and my memory is fuzzy around it. I know it’s a bit late for you now if they didn’t cover you, but hopefully this could help someone else.

    1. Lost academic*

      injuries in equestrian activities are different in most states. I’m not a lawyer but everywhere I’ve been there are large signs about the inherent dangers of working with horses pursuant to state codes and everyone signs waivers. Equestrian law is a very niche field, too.

      1. Ominous Adversary*

        Those are to prevent civil lawsuits (under the theory that you knew of and thus assumed any risk of getting hurt; how well that works later varies). Workers’ compensation is more like a benefits system. In any event, the organization should have had appropriate insurance so that when, not if, volunteers get injured, they are compensated and the organization is protected.

      2. CowWhisperer*

        That maybe – but I married into a dairy farm and workman’s comp certainly covers worker injuries causes by misbehaving cattle. Most accidents on the farm are slip and fall or repetitive use injuries – but one man needed major work on a finger that was crushed and lacerated when a heifer bounced on a gate while he was latching it. The man did everything right, but a 1,600 pound heifer being playful can produce a lot of force.

    2. nonprofit director*

      I work for a nonprofit in California and I handle our organization’s insurance. Workers comp does not cover volunteers unless they receive a tangible benefit, such as a stipend or class credit or something similar. This is according to the insurance companies. We make sure to have agreements with educational institutions from which we get interns, to ensure there is the tangible benefit and workers comp applies. For our regular volunteers, workers comp does not cover them, but we take out a separate accident policy for that.

  5. Peanut Hamper*

    Airing private arguments in public is never a good sign.

    But yep, there are plenty of places that would love to have you as a volunteer. I know that horses are what led you here, but this is such a toxic situation that it’s going to be a long while before things settle down, if they ever do.

    I encourage you to find another place to volunteer. You may find that you like that work even better than you did this work.

    1. Worldwalker*

      The LW has spent a considerable amount on this organization already — remember the part about donating saddles? Even used, those are hundreds to thousands of dollars apiece, with a bias toward the higher end. That can make it considerably harder to walk away from.

      That said, their office is full of bees.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle (formerly EPLawyer)*

        the saddles were donated a whike ago. that is a done deal. time to walk away and fibd another organization that is not full of bees.

      2. Pastor Petty Labelle (formerly EPLawyer)*

        the saddles were donated a while ago. that is a done deal. time to walk away and fibd another organization that is not full of bees.

      3. Peanut Hamper*

        Yep. This is the sunk cost fallacy at play here.

        Flee the bees. There are other organizations that serve animals/children/veterans that are not dysfunctional and would love to have LW as a volunteer.

        Flee the bees.

  6. Chairman of the Bored*

    I wouldn’t deal with that sort of lunacy even if somebody was paying me to be there, I’m sure not going anywhere near it on an unpaid volunteer basis.

    1. Mostly Managing*

      That’s what I was coming to say!

      I have worked in crazy-pants places where I didn’t have a lot of choice about quitting because I needed the money (and got out as soon as I could!).
      But I will not volunteer in a place where I’d be looking for a new job if it were paid.
      No way.
      There are so many places looking for good, reliable volunteers. Pick somewhere that’s not a sea of red flags.

    2. MigraineMonth*

      When you’re confronted with a dumpster fire on this scale that you have little stake in and absolutely no ability to put out, there are only two reasonable responses:
      1) Run away
      2) Run away to a safe distance, then make popcorn and pretend you’re watching reality TV

  7. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    Lydia 2.0 has shown who she is.
    Believe it.
    Your first ride on this merry go round of mayhem left you with medical bills. Not only did they not cover your care and rehab, or send a freaking fruit bouquet, they made it your fault.
    There is not a pitchfork big enough for you to clean up this shit show.
    Block them and find another horse barn.

  8. Momma Bear*

    Honestly, there are a lot of organizations that need help. If OP wants to muck stalls and walk horses, then I suggest they find another group, maybe a straight up rescue, that needs that kind of support. This sounds like a hot mess I wouldn’t touch with a long pole. OP sounds like they’ve been distant from the org since the injury and I would take this hoopla as a sign for a clean break.

    1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

      Rescue is probably perfect because it would also allow LW to transition back into working with horses but without the adding monitoring the welfare of a novice rider at the same time. LW seems to be comfortable even around skittish horses so she may be particularly adept at working with and assessing horses from challenging backgrounds–again without having to worry about throwing her body around to protect another person.

  9. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

    Their negligence got you badly hurt the first time around. And it could have been worse. Stay away.

    I mean, stay away from the drama too.

    1. Lola*


      Frankly Lydia and the organization are lucky the LW is not more litigious. As far as I’m concerned, getting at least one volunteer injured because of negligence is a fireable offense. What if it had been a child or disabled person instead of the LW?

  10. CityMouse*

    Look, ultimately you’re a volunteer and they out you at serious risk of physical harm. What happened to you could have been way, way worse. I think you should consider moving on and finding another organization to work with, one that wouldn’t create a dangerous situation like that.

  11. PerraFortunata*

    Good heavens, avoid the whole thing!
    There are other organizations doing the work you enjoy helping with.

  12. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    The last time comments hit this hard and fast was “my employee was insubordinate about her pay being late (three times)”

      1. MigraineMonth*

        You didn’t even have to read past the first two sentences to render that verdict. The phrase “too big for her britches” should never be used outside of historical reenactment tailoring.

  13. Hills to Die on*

    Make sure you find out where Lydia goes and stay far away from that organization too!

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      This! And also the president of the board too! If that person could indeed get on any other boards after this. (And yes, I know they certainly could; I am an AAM reader, after all, and know how much people get away with that they shouldn’t.)

  14. Fluffy Fish*

    OP – that sound you hear is the buzzing of bees. Angry bees.

    Alison’s advice isn’t bad/wrong. I just personally wouldn’t wait to see if it gets better – I’d just scooch along.

    I’d suggest you look for a different organization to volunteer.

  15. cosmicgorilla*

    I was done with this organization when I read that the trainers did not think the horse was a good fit for the program, and yet the horse continued to be utilized. That right there shows an incredible lack of judgement on the part of the folks running the program.

    So the horse is paired with a vulnerable client. And someone with no knowledge of this horse’s quirks is magically supposed to be able to manage the horse?

    This reads like one of those “my boyfriend is great, except for this one major glaring flaw” stories.

    1. ArchivesPony*

      me too. I’ve volunteered with a very similar program (though we didn’t have veterans) and the first moment a horse in the program showed signs of not wanting to be saddled, having issues just being warmed up, the horse was retired and a good pasture home was found immediately (the horse peacefully passed away in his field with horse friends a couple of years later).

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Right?? I’ve literally ridden a horse once and even I know that no one should have ridden that horse but the most experienced rider, and only after they knew exactly what the problems were with that horse.

    2. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Yes, I agree completely. If you’ve got a horse you’re unsure of and a vulnerable population, you do not move forward with mixing the two until you are sure. Especially since based on some of the info in the letter (lifts to get people on) some of the participants are physically disabled. Controlling a 2-tonne animal is enough of a challenge for someone in their physical prime, let alone for a kid with a mobility issue!

    3. Worldwalker*

      That blew my mind. They were unsure if the horse “would be a good fit” for the program — a huge red flag right there, because therapy horses have to be calm, steady, and unflappable; think therapy dogs, but half a ton or more, with steel-shod hooves. If there’s any question about that, the answer is no. You’re not “unsure” — if you’re not sure the horse is suitable, it’s unsuitable. And if there’s any question about that, a vulnerable and inexperienced rider should never, never, never have been on him.

      A horse that spooked and bolted was not only being considered but actually *used* as a therapy horse? What was going through their tiny little minds? Aside from second-hand hay, anyway?

      Horses in general do that — it’s part of the psychology of being a prey species. Run away first, consider whether that pile of firewood was actually a predator later. Horses really suitable for equine therapy have to overcome their species’ entire mental wiring, and there aren’t a lot who can. It’s like finding cats that don’t chase laser pointers. They exist — I have one! — but they’re few and far between. So you err on the side of “normal for the species” — the cat will chase small moving things, the horse will react to startling events.

      The fact that this organization *didn’t* do that, all the way back to the original incident, Lydia and the ED and everyone else aside, tells me that it’s been broken since before the LW was involved. It’s highly unlikely anything she says or does — especially now — will un-break it.

      Maybe she can get those saddles back? They’re spendy. But otherwise, stay away. Stay far away. It’s already a dumpster fire, it’s been one for years, and the bees are circling. (how’s *that* for a mixed metaphor?)

      1. Dust Bunny*


        It’s a therapeutic riding program: If the horse isn’t a forest of green flags as far as fit goes, he’s not a good fit. You’re putting a vulnerable population on a 1,200 pound animal.

        1. Hannah Lee*

          The decision makers in that place put vulnerable clients in a dangerous situation, where they could be physically injured, but also even if they escaped physical harm, how was their therapy, overall progress hampered by having the scary, possible traumatic experience of have their ride go badly?

          And then putting volunteers in harm’s way, and the horse itself (because a skittish, spooked, panicked horse is not happy and is in danger of injuring itself)

          1. Worldwalker*

            Yeah … people who are *not* already traumatized, disabled, or otherwise vulnerable, can be badly affected by the sort of thing that happened to that client. There’s a reason why “get back on the horse” is a common metaphor. So how much worse is it for someone who has put their trust in the humans and the horse and then this happens?

            And yes, the horse didn’t spook because it was more fun that way; the horse was in a panic for some reason — something frightened it badly. (maybe not something that would frighten us humans, but remember: prey species) So think of all the feelings you have, psychological and physical, in a panic situation, and that’s how the horse felt, except with less comprehension of what was going on, leading to more fear.

            Nobody affected came out of this well. Not the LW, not the client, not the horse. And none of them should ever have been in the situation.

      2. Random Dice*

        I used to do volunteer work for a therapeutic riding stable – mucking out stalls, grooming, bridling and leading horses.

        There was one horse that I wasn’t allowed near, because when he was in the ring he was an angel, but in the stall he liked to bite people and do that LEAN while one was picking his hooves, slowly adding all his weight just to be a jerk. But again, with a kid on his back in the ring, angel.

        Well this one time a kid with autism just bent down and bit him, hard, while riding him. The horse was in the ring and didn’t react at all, but everyone who had been bitten by him kind of snickered at the poetic justice.

        But, see, that story shows how a competent therapeutic riding center is run. There was a stringent assessment process by professionals to ensure only extremely well behaved horses could have special needs kids on their backs. There was an actively monitored process by which volunteers were informed which horses to work with, and assignments were given with an eye to volunteer safety.

        None of this craziness.

        But also, yes, horse people are “special”. Especially as you lean more toward dressage. A lot of similarities with ballet people in terms of drama.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      Yes, that was where my jaw dropped. You want exceptionally cooperative and laid back horses for a program like this.

      I’m amazed that OP’s is the only program-related injury OP knows about. I’d bet it’s not actually the only one.

    5. GreyjoyGardens*

      Agreed. If this is “therapeutic” riding – meaning people who have a disability are going to be riding the horses – then it’s on the organization to be super-careful with the horses working with their clients. Most of these therapeutic clients are probably not experienced horse people. If someone with long term experience with horses is injured pretty badly when their mount “spooked and bolted” then heaven only knows what might happen to a client with a disability who has never really ridden before.

      This organization is *dangerously* irresponsible and a lawsuit waiting to happen. Avoid, LW. There are plenty of healthy places to get your horse fix.

      1. Random Dice*

        It’s not just folks with disabilities who can do therapeutic exercise. One can have PTSD, autism, ADHD, autoimmune issues, etc.

        I only mention this because I spent years not accessing therapeutic exercise options because I didn’t consider myself “disabled enough” even though I was.

        Therapeutic exercise programs are far more affordable and come with coaches and instructors who know how not to hurt one by assuming abilities.

    6. raktajino*

      I was so distracted by the org’s choice to use a horse described as a “maniac” in a *therapy program* that I could barely finish the letter. And then to put a volunteer on the case? When I worked with horses as a teenage volunteer, the more spook-prone ones were very strictly handled by only a handful of strictly vetted and trained volunteers, or the paid staff. And even those were still pretty solid horses; they passed on purchasing many horses that were flightier.

    7. Melissa*

      And the horse threw a rider (who was apparently a vulnerable person)?? They should be worried about lawsuits if that is how they do things– take an untrained horse, pair them with a volunteer they don’t know well, and put a person on the horse?

    8. sparkle emoji*

      Yes!! Why on earth would an org with this mission be willing to take a chance on a reactive horse? OP said that disabled clients were part of the mission under Lydia. I’m assuming this includes at least some people with physical disabilities. If a client who can’t walk gets thrown, there’s a non-zero chance a “problem” horse could trample them. This lack of due diligence could’ve been fatal. I can’t take Lydia’s claims about wanting to serve disabled people seriously when she’s playing around with horses like this.

  16. A Simple Narwhal*

    Not your circus, not your monkeys. It’s sad that on paper this was a great organization for you to volunteer at, but the reality hasn’t shaken out. You aren’t actively volunteering and you were only involved briefly – you have nothing to gain by enmeshing yourself in the turmoil. I’m not even sure you’d be helping them either with your feedback.

    I bet there are other great horse-related organizations out there you could volunteer with, your energy is better spent seeking one out.

  17. learnedthehardway*

    I’d have sued the organization the first time around for negligence and recklessness – they put you in a situation in which it was foreseeable that you or a student could be hurt, and you were hurt!! They needed to be called out for that, at the time.

    I wouldn’t even consider volunteering again for them – not unless they have entirely new leadership.

  18. Kelly*

    I’ve worked with quality, legit therapeutic riding programs as a vet and I’ve NEVER seen them accept a horse with significant behavioral or medical issues after their trial. A lot of them can’t handle it and get punted pretty quickly. This organization is a dumpster fire if they think putting people with disabilities on any sort of horse who bolts or rears!

    1. Pippa K*

      My old barn had a lesson horse who’d been around a while and was loved, but he started spooking and dumped a few people. They stopped putting beginners on him, did a vet work up, and when it turned out he had vision problems, he was removed from the lesson program. No responsible organization would do differently. Sloppy, careless, negligent barns like the one in the letter are despicable – and dangerous, obviously.

    2. sparkle emoji*

      Absolutely. The fact that Lydia is so furious that disabled people aren’t being served by the charity anymore seems quite rich to me when she was gambling with their safety like this. If she could be this flippant, I don’t believe her anger is sincere.

  19. Nuke*

    What a bananas situation… but I will say that as a horse owner, who has been at multiple boarding barns, this is not at all surprising behavior from Horse People. In my experience, I’ve noticed that people who are extremely into horses tend to have challenges dealing with people and any kind of normal conflict resolution. Which is really weird, considering how freaky horses can be, and how you really need to keep a level head when working with them.

    1. Foyer Office*

      Yep. This is the comment I was scrolling down to find. I had to start getting hypnotized twice a month to be able to deal with unprofessional barn owners/trainers. I’ve moved around and it’s the same everywhere. I volunteer doing accounting at a non-horse place. You couldn’t pay me to take an unpaid position dealing with Horse People.

      I do think LW might be able to deal with this place after the dust settles though, since it sounds like they’re about to have nearly 100% turn over.

      1. Nuke*

        Oh the stories I have from the barn I’m at now… I can briefly summarize it with how Sorry(tm) the barn owner and manager were to have to raise board by $100 this year, but we promise by Spring we’re getting the outdoor arena done, and fences are getting fixed! It’s now the end of July and the fences are the same level of broken, we have no outdoor arena, but the barn owner has taken more than one trip to Florida! :)

        And everyone is so shocked that I’m moving my horse to a backyard situation with no arena, but one that’s owned by a sane person. Lol.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      Until I read these comments, I thought it was only in the UK that horsey people tend to be on the eccentric side (here it usually goes hand in hand with being posh and old money adds a whole extra level of weirdness) – but nope, it’s apparently the same everywhere.

      1. Nuke*

        Oh I’d bet money on American horse people being worse, because we get the Yeehaw Pink Bedazzled Hats and/or men who get their tough guy rocks off by “teaching a horse who’s boss” and wearing the craziest spurs he can buy at Cowman Jirb’s Boot & Anvil Shop.

        I definitely get both types where I live… which is UPSTATE NEW YORK….

        1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

          Oh, hi.
          I can make some guesses as to the town(s) that encompass these types!

          1. Nuke*

            Would you believe I’m less than 10 minutes from the state capital? Not even out in the boonies somewhere…

        2. Ominous Adversary*

          I’m sure that the UK has its own regional variety of people who don’t truly understand or care about their animals and simply use them as props.

          1. The Prettiest Curse*

            Oh, I’m sure we do! The eccentric type seems to be the dominant variety of horse person here (at least in my decades-old experience), but I’m certain there are plenty of other awful horse people too.

    3. Kammy6707*

      Seriously – what is that about? I had to interact with a Horse Person at a former job and she was the worst! She seemed super nice and kind but the second she was slightly inconvenienced or upset about something, watch out. Cursing, yelling, saying the rudest things – my supervisor had to step in several times when she would blow up at me over a simple miscommunication that could have easily be resolved (via email at that) without any drama!

      1. Nuke*

        It makes me feel like an alien sometimes, as someone who generally knows how to handle socialization. Most of the people at my current barn do literally nothing else BUT Horse Stuff. I have a whole other life and many other hobbies, but so many people devote every spare moment of their lives and every dollar they make to their horses. And at least in my area (which is New York state, bizarrely), they tend to skew very conservative on the Western (style of riding) side of things, which can be treacherous for an LGBT+ person like myself. I always have to tiptoe around their feelings to avoid getting dragged into a debate about vaccines or other such nonsense. Like man, I’m just here to see my big goofy dog. Let me be!

    4. Ominous Adversary*

      There is a certain type of person who is into animals as a reaction to having issues dealing with people, but doesn’t really understand the mentality of animals either. They’re running FROM people rather than TO the animal, if that makes sense.

      See, also, dog people who dismiss multiple bites by their dog as a “playful nip” or who profess surprise that their unleashed dog “under voice control” refuses to obey commands.

      1. GreyjoyGardens*

        I agree; I have seen people who get into working with animals because they just hate people and like animals better. The problem is that working with animals most of the time means working with people as well. If you’re an adoption counselor at an animal shelter you *better* have good people skills.

        There are a couple of dog communities on Reddit and I see people saying how they’re bitey, reactive, can’t be around people or cats or anything else dog is “sooooo worth it.” I do not get it. I go out of my way to make sure my elderly, diabetic, food-allergic cat is well cared for, and given her insulin and limited ingredient diet, but…she’s lived with me for over a decade, she’s a good cat, and she never attacks me or anyone else. When pets can’t live a happy life around people, it’s time to reconsider, I think. Because part of the job description of “domestic animal” or “pet” is being around humans.

      2. Nuke*

        This happens SO much with horse people, especially those who own mares. They’re really quick to handwave behavior issues as their horse being “marish” or “a bitch” instead of considering medical concerns, pain from ill-fitting tack, the fact that they’re yanking on her face while riding her really aggressively, etc… Every horse I’ve met that I was told was “an asshole” was completely fine to me, but when their owner showed up they’d get anxious, and then probably immediately get slapped. Gee, I wonder why your horse acts up around you!

        I’m not an “experienced” equestrian by any means, nor am I a great rider, but I rescued an extremely anxious mistreated mustang 3 years ago, and simply from being chill and going at her pace, she has completely come around and is even ridedable. People think I’m some kind of wizard but the reality is that I didn’t smack her with reins whenever she “misbehaved” like everyone else loves to, because I recognized she was SCARED, and worked around that. Yeesh.

        I’ve also noticed an uptick in dog owners since the pandemic started having untrained, unsocialized dogs, but they just think it’s funny because they got a puppy as a remedy for being lonely, and never put in the effort.

        1. Modesty Poncho*

          Uhg, this makes me so angry, the pandemic pets. I got my cat in September 2020 but it was after months of thought and waiting until I knew I could support her and give her the life she deserves. And that was for a cat, I still wouldn’t be ready for a dog who needed real training.

      3. Dust Bunny*

        Seconding/thirding/whatever this. I think it’s basically very self-centered: They have something at which they can feel like experts, and it’s easy to justify it because they “love animals”, but it’s about them.

        For the record, I know tons of horse people who are not like this, and I know people who are like this who aren’t into animals beyond maybe basic pet ownership, but some squeaky wheels are really loud.

    5. HopperFinch*

      Absolutely! My girlfriend had a horse friend move her horse to their acreage recently because the friend was dealing with insane drama at her boarding barn…the barn owner didn’t like the friend’s training style (which was using positive reinforcement to train her new mustang, whereas the owner was more about forcing the horse to “get used to” things). Barn owner was escalating the situation and berating the friend, telling her the training wasn’t working (it was, they were making good progress, but I suppose not as fast as if they forced the horse to go thru something and shut her down) and threatening her about kicking her out of the barn so friend decided to leave before she was forced to. The friend was boarding at a reduced rate because she did a ton of volunteer work at the barn so they lost out on a good volunteer over really dumb drama and disagreements on horse training.

      1. Nuke*

        Wow, what an absolute nightmare. Positive reinforcement training is extremely well-regarded, especially in mustang circles. But that barn owner sounds a loooot like my barn manager tbh, who got a mustang because she was jealous I had one, then taught him to stand for fly spray by tying him to a wall in his stall, and spraying him until he flipped over and got used to it. I’ll NEVER understand treating sensitive, ungentled horses this way, instead of wanting to build a relationship based on trust.

        But plenty of people want quick results, not good results. Happens with all animals who need training…

      2. Environmental Compliance*

        I have left barns because the barn owner (also the barn trainer) decided they didn’t like that 1) I ride bitless quite often 2) I do not whip horses 3) I do not force my horse to be stalled at night because he *hates* being stalled, and I specifically requested and paid for pasture board. BO decided out of the blue to stall my horse – not only at night, but 2/3 of the day! – and then tried to charge me for stall board (2x the cost), force me into a training series (itself equivalent to the stall board cost), and pay for some mild dents to the stall walls as apparently he kicked when he was left in there alone all day *with no hay*. I once caught her “training” an off-the-range mustang that resulted in her getting ran over by the horse…. because she put herself between the exit and the horse and tried to force it into going through the puddle of water.

        BO tried to tell me she knew *everything* about horses and was *very gifted* at training because she got her first (green) horse at 15. I pointed out that my horse, who responds well to positive reinforcement and is incredibly laid back and calm, was my green horse at the age of 15, who I also trained – but under the tutelage of a local trainer who focused on trust-building based horsemanship.

        Three of us (about a third of the boarders total I think) left within 2 weeks.

    6. stratospherica*

      Yeah, I know it’s a bit of a stereotype but while reading this I did think “of course it’s Horse Drama” lol

  20. clover power*

    Look for a 4-H horse club near you – there will be hoops to jump through for the volunteer screening initially, but you’ll get to work with kids and horses and there is a real need for caring adults (especially when they aren’t parents of kids in the program – they bring a lot of stability). There are even things like Horse Bowl that you could coach.

    1. Data/Lore*

      I was hoping someone brought up 4-H. The sign up for volunteers is time consuming but not unmanageable- do the online training, the background check, and you’re good to go. Most 4-H groups I know are desperate for knowledgeable volunteers, because if there are no volunteers you either lose members or parents step in, and as a parent and volunteer, there’s only so many roles we can fill.

  21. BellyButton*

    Sadly, this sort of thing has been my experience with many non-profits. I now tend to volunteer for one off events and no longer have a regular volunteer gig because I can’t stand drama.

    1. CommanderBanana*

      Oof, yes, I hear that – I’m also have been a long-term volunteer for some nonprofits, and now I volunteer for a city government health and human services agency that provides services that are generally provided by nonprofits in the surrounding areas. I have to say that working for an HHS organization has been a way better experience that volunteering for a non-profit.

      The non-profits in our area that provide the same services, which we often work with and refer clients to, are all their own little fiefdoms. We’re actually accountable to the city government’s HHS agency, so there’s a lot more oversight and accountability, IMHO, than at the nonprofits.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      It’s a thing in animal-related activities, too. Lots of people with a lot of passion but also a lot of temptation to cut corners because funding is always an issue, and also a lot of people who think they know better than actual experts.

      I love the work that animal rescue people do but, wow, have I met some doozies.

      1. CommanderBanana*

        Yep, I volunteered with the rescue where I adopted my dogs. They are fabulous, 100% volunteer run and funded and the director runs a tight ship.

        But, sadly, a not-insignificant amount of the dogs that come into rescue are from other ‘rescues,’ or sometimes just one person who started taking animals in, and it got out of control and became a hoarding situation. It’s really sad, because often these people talk themselves into believing that they are helping, and meanwhile they’re actively harming the animals they claim they want to save. Twist of Fate Farms was probably the worst example of this that I’ve ever seen, but I’m sure there are more.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          The rescue from which I got my last dog was eventually raided by the SPCA (and deservedly so). And the director was arrested for a DUI.

          I knew women, when I was working for a veterinarian, who were living in travel trailers in their own yards because the actual house was full of rescue animals. We didn’t see animals that looked neglected but, even if they’re physically cared-for, that’s too many animals. My pets would be stressed beyond description in conditions like that.

          1. CommanderBanana*

            It’s horribly sad. I’ve been volunteering with the rescue where I got my girls for a couple of years, and the hardest dogs to rehabilitate are the ones that have come from hoarding situations. They often can’t be placed with other dogs and have issues with resource guarding that makes them difficult to place.

        2. Dust Bunny*

          For the record: I have done animal rescue, both with rescues and on my own because I found a kitten in the trash. But I know when to say “when”.

        3. Contracts Killer*

          Yes! I’ve been volunteering with animal rescues for nearly a decade and been on two boards. If you plan to adopt from a rescue, contact a couple other rescues for references. We are HAPPY to vouch for each other and won’t try to steal you as a customer/client. If we hesitate or give a very generic “gosh I just don’t know” kind of answer, RUN and find somewhere else. There are phenomenal rescues out there. There are also crazy bananapants people who are in it for money, praise, or their hoarding problem.

    3. Zap R.*


      I think a lot of people volunteer because it’s the only thing they have to do and that leads to to them getting weirdly possessive and domineering over the organization.

    4. Judge Judy and Executioner*

      I’ve volunteered for a couple non-profits in my area that are non-animal related and can confirm they are drama filled and usually unorganized. No volunteer wants to show up for a 4 hour shift only to do 30 minutes of work and then be kept on standby. These same organizations wonder why they don’t have more reoccurring volunteers…..

  22. Delta Delta*

    There’s another element to this – horse people can be a little bit extra (and that’s being kind; horse people know what I’m talking about). OP likely also knows this, because not every horse person is like this, but we all know what I’m talking about. OP likely is factoring this in along with the general weirdness.

    I’m so sorry this didn’t work out and I hope OP can find another location where she can get her pony fix. Do not underestimate the power of taking a deep sniff of a happy horse. (If you were in my neck of the woods I’d loan you mine; she smells like sunshine and happiness)

    1. WhyDoIOwnHorses*

      Horse (noun): a large, onery toddler who is trying to kill itself and you in the most expensive way possible

      Speaking as a life-long horse person, you don’t spend all of your free time and most of your discretionary income on horses if all is right in your head.

      1. Pippa K*

        One of my favorite descriptions, from someone on Twitter I think: “ a willful one ton beast that walks on its fingernails and dies if it sees a hat it doesn’t like”

        1. Chestnut Mare*

          Horses make great pets for anyone who wishes their bicycle could make bad decisions.

          1. Elizabeth West*


            That reminds me of the first time I went riding with my ex. I was on his gelding and we were in the woods, and then we came on this giant brush pile. It was as tall as the horse. I foolishly thought this goofball would walk around it, but no.

            He tried to go THROUGH it, and I ended up with a big cut on the bridge of my nose from a massive branch. I do miss his big dorky self, though (the horse; not my ex, lol).

          2. Random Dice*

            “Horses make great pets for anyone who wishes their bicycle could make bad decisions.”

            I’m dying. All of this is so true!

            A murderous bicycle! But SO PRETTY.

        2. CommanderBanana*

          “A couch that woke up and decided it was in hell” is one description I’ve seen.

      2. Once More with Feeling*

        All horse people are crazy… you just have to decide how much crazy you can handle.
        This includes myself as a lifelong horsewoman.

    2. The OG Sleepless*

      Yes…it’s been decades since I spent time with horses, but I remember drama at almost every barn I’ve ever known.

      1. ScruffyInternHerder*


        I’m not even sure the “bees” metaphor applies. There isn’t enough square footage to host the amount of bees necessary for these cases.

    3. Bunny Lake Is Found*

      Yeah, if this was any volunteer group, I doubt anyone would be debating whether they should get the heck out, but being around horse people can definitely skew your sense of what behavior should be considered acceptable.

      I think it is because the sport is so expensive. Firstly, because once you are spending $100,000 a year on a hobby, you tend to place an extreme amount of importance on every single aspect of that hobby. And secondly, people who don’t ride/own/compete would be straight up bewildered/judgmental at why/how you are spending so much money on this, so it is easier to spend most of your time in the horse echo chamber–and any echo chamber tends to result in some bonzer norms.

      LW, get out, this is beyond normal level of horse people “extreme”. You can find another group of horse people who are passionate about volunteering who are not involved in a toxic mess.

  23. DivergentStitches*

    I’ve volunteered for one of these programs for 8 years. The volunteer coordination tends to be not very good, just because horse people tend to not be very computer savvy (in my experience, I’m sure there’s plenty out there who are).

  24. L.H. Puttgrass*

    When I first read this, I wasn’t paying close attention to the president’s role and thought it was just the ED. In which case going to the board might have been useful.

    But when it’s the president of the board acting this awful? Only thing you can do is stay well away and hope that organizational change happens somehow.

    Also—shouldn’t the board be more separated from the operations? In every non-profit I’ve been associated with (which isn’t a huge set, I admit), the ED ran day-to-day operations and the board only stepped in when needed. A president of the board who also acts as ED seems like a recipe for problems.

  25. MechanicalPencil*

    I see horse non-profits are just as banana crackers as dog/cat non-profits. In the words of Monty Python, “run awaaaaay”

    1. Ex-Horse Crazy Lady*

      Even more so because there’s a heck of a lot of money involved. I used to joke that if you wanted to skirt tax law or outright launder money you should start a horse non-profit.

  26. Hannah Lee*

    Organizationally, this entire thing sounds like a mess and sounds like no one involved has been handling things professionally for a while.

    Going way way way back, there is no reason ANY client should have EVER been anywhere near that horse. And no volunteer should have EVER been put in the position of having to make it work, on no notice, with no preparation for example walking through a typical lesson with someone on staff acting as the client and doing all the expected client things to see how that horse would respond. Any flightiness, any spookiness and that horse should have been out of the program, immediately.

    And then how they handled the situation when there WAS an incident … which included a client!?! And injured a volunteer!?! They should have been falling all over themselves to make sure you were okay, reprimand and possibly fire whoever authorized that horse to be used for a lesson.

    And then whatever the heck has gone on since then and whatever blowtorches staff, ex staff, volunteers and the big boss are blazing all over the place? Oh, please OP … stay far far far away from this. No one there is going to do anything constructive with stories from way back when. No good can come of this.

    Also, any volunteer program that doesn’t take safety of clients AND volunteers it’s number one priority has no business offering riding lessons, sessions to anyone, paid or otherwise. Plus there’s the safety, well-being of the horses as well; they shouldn’t be put into situations they can’t handle. Hindsight is 20/20, but I’m wondering if way back when OP should have reported the incident to whatever group licensed that therapeutic program. Because man oh man, what happened was bad enough, but it could have been an absolute tragedy and changes were needed in process and decision making to keep everyone safe, including the horses.

    1. horse girl grown up*

      Hard agree on the licensing organization. At this point that would be a nuclear option and may also be too late, but this organization probably should be investigated given the lack of professionalism in the management and the terrible negligence that injured a volunteer and only through luck didn’t injure an actual client.

  27. Snooks*

    Stay away. This organization should be shut down and not reactivated unless and until all staff have been replaced by people who are competent and ethical. They are endangering vulnerable clients. Horses are never completely predictable, but no horse hat shows tendencies to spook, bolt, resist the handler, etc. should ever be used in such a program.

  28. Ex-Horse Crazy Lady*

    I had a similar experience with Special Olympics Equestrian Events. Too much drama, too much “all about me” people involved, too many parents who can’t just let their kid enjoy the ride and think Special O is going to help their kid land a spot on USET. (Spoiler alert: Nope).

    I no longer volunteer at anything horse related because of all of the problems. I send good vibes to the OP and hope she finds some other outlet to help in; she sounds like a sweet person.

  29. Dust Bunny*

    GET OUT.

    My first job out of college was cleaning stalls and helping with riding lessons at a summer camp. There are few things worse than a poorly-run horse-related situation: It was a miracle that nobody got killed at this place. They didn’t have appropriate equipment. They didn’t have long-term lesson horses; leased horses from a guy who bought them at auction and literally brought them anything that didn’t try to kill him as he put it in the trailer. I’m not kidding. We had ancient horses; abused horses; horses that had never been under saddle; horses in pain; one pregnant horse; the works. It was hands-down the worst job I’ve ever had.

    Also: “having more than one person on-site at a time, using a lift for students unable to mount the horse independently”

    Was this not standard before? There is no way in H*ll I’d participate in a horse program that didn’t have multiple adults on site at a time.

    And as far as “disappointing these families”, well, if you were running the place appropriately in the first place you wouldn’t have to disappoint them.

    1. kiki*

      “having more than one person on-site at a time”

      This also stood out to me as a huge issue! It sounds like this was done to allow Lydia to continue in her role, but probably wasn’t the right call for the organization.

    2. Pierrot*

      Yeah, the multiple staff onsite and using a lift both seem like reasonable changes, especially considering that they’ve had at least one incident where someone (LW) was seriously injured. If something goes wrong while a rider is getting manually lifted onto the horse, there’s a serious risk of injury for the rider and the lifter (and possibly the horse). In that same vein, if a staff member, volunteer, or client gets severely injured, there should not just be one staff person present. I feel like at minimum they would need 3 staff in that circumstance: one to help the person who was injured, one to manage the horse, and one to call 911.

    3. Pippa K*

      They had horses who’d never been under saddle as lesson horses at a summer camp??? Even in a discussion of badly-run horse orgs, that part made me stop and stare at the wall for a couple of seconds. Oh my.

      (I’ve got to stop reading and commenting on all this but I just cannot look away!)

      1. Dust Bunny*

        They were well-behaved on the ground. The guy didn’t try them under saddle before he brought them. We tried them under saddle before we put kids on them. That was . . . memorable.

        An organization that supported the camp came for a visit and my supervisor cornered them and gave them a run-down of the horse-related insanity. The horse program got shut down early, they paid us the rest of our wages for the summer, and bought our plane tickets home.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Wow, actually doing right by their employees and knowing when to pull the plug on something bad. Almost a first for AAM!

          1. Dust Bunny*

            I think it was mostly a matter of one of their major support organizations threatening to pull the money.

            1. Slow Gin Lizz*

              Well, yeah, but still…it’s amazing that they still paid you for the whole summer and for your plane tix home.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        Moral of the story: If you send your kids to a summer camp with a “horse program”, ask a lot of questions about the sourcing and backgrounds of those horses.

        This was over twenty years ago so I assume/hope a lot has changed since, but it’s apparently not unknown. We toured some other camps on the sly and they leased experienced lesson horses from reputable sources.

      3. sparkle emoji*

        Less extreme, but I went to a summer camp as a kid that got their horses in a similar arrangement. One horse averaged about one camper injury per week and was still used. I got put on her once, she broke my arm, and the contractors working with the horses still tried to blame me. I will always believe that this type of horse bananas is possible after that.

    4. Worldwalker*

      I once owned half a horse (the left side, if you’re curious) that came from a camp like that.

      Ghost was a wonderful horse — he was a Tennessee Walker, one of the ugly-but-sweet ones — but he’d been abused, and he was a walking bundle of psychological problems. There is no way an inexperienced rider should have been near him, let alone on his back.

      Random example: Ghost had a morbid fear of wire. One day, when I was out riding, he stepped on a piece of old wire in the grass and heard it clank against his shoe. He went straight up in the air, rotated 180 degrees, and hit the ground at a dead run for home. I have the instincts of a leech in a crisis, which was a good thing because I was riding bareback! But those summer camp kids who had been riding him? If something like that had happened on a trail ride, there would have been a hurt or dead kid.

      And what Dust Bunny said about having multiple adults on site. There are so very many ways to get hurt when working around horses, even with no intent on the part of the horse. Even with calm horses, unlike the ones there. If the one and only adult on site gets kicked in the head or thrown off a horse, they’re depending on disabled children to be able to get help? DEPENDING ON???? Not having it happen in exceptional circumstances, but that’s their primary plan?

      It’s not the barn that’s full of bees (that’s only the wasp nest in the hayloft) — the front office is a veritable hive.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        I had a pony who was stone-cold reliable in the arena panic and drag me through some blackberry brambles on the trail. Another horse was spooked by some (very mild) thunder and took off along a trail that was lined with cleared tree stumps–if he had stumbled we’d both have been impaled.

        The camp did not think the thunder horse was “bad enough” to send back, so he was reserved for riding teachers only.

    5. Zoe Karvounopsina*

      if you were running the place appropriately in the first place you wouldn’t have to disappoint them.

      It sounds a little like Lydia was the ‘Steve the museum volunteer’ of this organisation, but the board president is not covering herself in glory as she closes the barn door once the horses are long gone…

    6. air quality alert*


      I don’t know who certifies these places, but that alone should be enough to have gotten them shut down.

  30. kiki*

    I think you’ve been given the gift of knowing this organization’s issues weren’t limited to its handling of that one horse. This is enough drama that I would probably just never volunteer with them again, but if this is the only organization like this near you and you really are moved by the cause, I would stay on the email list for a year and monitor the situation. Are there more dramatic email updates? Do they wind up able to hire more staff? Does it seem like they’ve learned from what they went through? Does the organization even continue to exist after a year?

    1. ENFP in Texas*

      I would agree. I would stay on the list and monitor the situation, but I wouldn’t volunteer or talk to them at this point. They have a bunch of housecleaning to do, and you REALLY don’t want to get caught up in the middle of that drama.

      1. Zarniwoop*

        I would only stay on the mailing list if I really enjoyed watching train wrecks.

        If you don’t like train wrecks, separate yourself as far and fast as you can.

        1. I Have RBF*

          Ummm… I like to watch YouTube video of literal train wrecks.

          But this stuff would turn me off.

          Run, OP, run.

  31. Katydid*

    LW, are you drawn towards this group now (rather than a week before this drama broke out) because you have a history of fixing broken organizations, or is the attraction more akin to someone who is unconsciously drawn to partners who turn out abusive? Figuring that out might break the attraction.

    I have experienced that itch to fix an organization that’s failing, but in my case I know it’s not something I can actually do. I feel the draw, and I feel the internal warnings. From your letter, it seems you have been feeling such warnings yourself. Like the other posters, I recommend you pay attention to those red flags! That’s your self-protective instincts kicking in. When you’ve been brought up to put others first, you need to nurture, not ignore, your internal warning system.

  32. Falling Diphthong*

    I think both Lydia and the new head are thinking “If the other side is wrong, then I must be right!!!!”

    Everyone can be wrong. Wrong is not a zero sum game.

    1. Jennifer Strange*

      Exactly! There is no winner in this situation except the LW who isn’t involved anymore (and should keep it that way).

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      Wrong is not a zero sum game.

      Oh! Definitely going to stitch that onto a pillow.

      This is all so true. Too many people try to prove the other person is wrong without ever trying to prove that they themselves are correct. That is not how logic works.

    3. kiki*

      Yeah, I think a lot of parts of this org have been dysfunctional for some time. And while Lydia makes some valid points, it sounds like some of the accommodations made to keep her in the role weren’t really sustainable for the organization (at least not without pulling in other support to keep the office staffed and multiple people on-site).

    4. Zarniwoop*

      Have we heard about *anyone* in this organization who’s trustworthy and competent?

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        By their very nature, any calm, competent, low-drama people are probably not showing up in the email chains.

        1. Zarniwoop*

          They may be calm and low-drama but they’re not very safety conscious if they didn’t already quit over the working alone thing.

  33. Anonymous for this*

    So the therapy horse barn shenanigans aren’t just limited to my geographical area? Ha. Horse people can be… a lot (speaking as a horse person). Therapy horse people seem to be even more extra. My good friend could have written this, and I volunteered for the same organization and left a while back. This all sounds so familiar. Stay away. They will try and suck you back in! As a commentor mentioned above if you need horse time there may be animal rescue organizations that need someone to groom their horses. Or Facebook groups often have horse owners looking for someone to love on their retired pasture puffs.

  34. DrSalty*

    Am I reading this right that you haven’t been actively involved in this organization for multiple years? Do not touch this mess with a 10 ft pole!! Stay away!

    1. Ferret*

      Yeah, I understand staying on the email list, and even being interested in the drama but I can’t honestly see LW having any impact here and I don’t really understand what they expect to happen? Other than the president using the story in some kind of further rant about how Lisa was always dangerous and toxic and stirring up more drama.

      I’m not 100% sure I have the timeline yet but is sounds like the LW was trained as a volunteer teacher, got injured very quickly, and has spent several years with no real contact but is still on an email distribution list which doesn’t exactly leave them with a lot of leverage

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          not half as good as the person who read MANURE instead of MATURE in: “and no sign of mature or steady leadership.”

      1. Lexi Vipond*

        I don’t know, at the start it made a kind of sense – if someone you’ve had trouble with is leaving and changes are being made that you think are sensible, that could be a very good time to get involved again, especially since it sounds like it other new people will be coming in at the same time. Less ‘here’s how to change everything’ and more ‘I heard you’re changing everything, here’s what happened to me and how I think I can help with your changes’.

        But then things keep falling apart, and it doesn’t sound like such a good idea any more – but maybe by that point you’ve started to look forward to it all.

      2. sparkle emoji*

        Yeah, I think the president has demonstrated that she’s more likely to use OP’s experience as ammunition in her petty squabbles than as feedback to improve the organization.

    2. Daisy*

      Yes, seems like it? I pretty much lost interest in the ‘problem’ after that line. Just unsubscribe from the list. Why would you even type all that out

      1. Veruca*

        You lost interest? I’ve never been so invested in horse drama. I hope OP writes back with an update!

        1. Zoe Karvounopsina*

          It’s the perfect type of drama! Distant enough that I’m not affected, close enough that I get all the details! And it doesn’t get dark!

    3. Friday Person*

      Yeah, I have to say this all really feels more like an attempt to shoehorn “hey, do you guys want to hear about some juicy volunteering drama” (which yes, sure I do) into a question than any actual difficulty with determining a correct course of action.

  35. Warrant Officer Georgiana Breakspear-Goldfinch*

    /me looks grimly at an org I was deeply involved in, which has been going through some painful transitions and communications failures and policy disasters and and and ….

    I understand how it feels to watch something you care about set itself on fire. But you can’t save them, and it’s not your place to try.

    1. Zoe Karvounopsina*

      Do not fall for the ‘if you care so much about fixing this, why don’t you get involved’ OP! Do not! That way lies misery!

  36. Enn Pee*

    LW, I have also volunteered for an organization that didn’t really care if I was injured on the job (a very bad ankle sprain that kept me off my feet for weeks). RUN, and don’t worry about what happens to them!

  37. arcya*

    Oh my gosh, a horse nonprofit imploding in bad management and over-the-top drama. I’m so, so shocked. This has never happened.

    Jk you’re fine, I’d find a different organization though. Wouldn’t contact anyone from this one unless it’s following up on the insurance situation, and even then I wouldn’t mention the emails.

  38. sofar*

    A non-profit, you say? A non-profit involving animals, you say? I started reading this and got the popcorn.

    I volunteer for a non-profit involving animals (and have volunteered for several others in the past) and, while it’s not as toxic/dangerous as this one clearly is, you can expect disfunction, Big Feelings, in-fighting, and lots and lots of emails/threads of arguments in the Facebook groups, etc.

    I’d try out a few similar organizations on for size and give yourself some options. At some point, you’ll find one with a manageable level of drama, where you at least have the option to keep your head down and work.

    1. higheredadmin*

      I work in non-profit (not animal related) and laughed out loud when Allison suggested that the volunteer manager was not behaving professionally, and that her job would be to manage the situation with the volunteers as opposed to escalating it. Allison can be right all day long, but that is typically NOT how someone in this situation behaves in the non-profit landscape. She has become too invested in this role and doesn’t want things to change, and by goodness she’s going to do whatever she can to keep it the same. And the nutty response from the top, also not surprising. Run away OP!

      1. sofar*

        “over-the-top inappropriate for her position, and was like throwing kerosene on a fire,” would be a relatively dull day at an animal-related non-profit … unless the fire is literal, in which case, it’s a normal day.

  39. Bookworm*

    O_O No advice, just that reaction. Would otherwise agree with what Alison said: it’s way bigger than you and it sounds like more of a headache than you deserve. It’s up to you, but if you are able to provide an update on this letter, I’d love to know if this drama settles down or…not.

  40. JP*

    I used to volunteer with an equine rescue. It’s too much background and aggravation for me to get into the details, but I learned that a lot of these rescues are absolute disasters. I don’t have the energy to start delving into all the dysfunction, unethical, and sometimes illegal behavior I witnessed, but I would never get involved with a horse rescue again.

    1. not a hippo*

      Organizations that involve animals somehow end up being twice as toxic as any other place. I think because it’s not just humans who are in jeopardy if management is negligent/abusive/just plain bad.

      1. JP*

        I wasn’t sure if it was just horses, or if it was across the board when it comes to animals. The person who ran the organization I worked did not understand that she was not the owner of the rescue. Unfortunately, pretty much anything she said went because she owned the land and buildings that the rescue operated out of. The rescue, unsurprisingly, lost its tax exempt status.

      2. GreyjoyGardens*

        Also I think because they attract a lot of misanthropes who “love animals and hate people.” The trouble is, when you run a rescue or other nonprofit, guess who you are going to be working with?

        1. not bitter, just sour*

          The vet world is FULL of “I hate people but adore animals” but somehow all these people forget that you’re working with (and for) human beings. still these people own or manage practices and treat their employees like dirt.

          COVID did a real number on vet clinics and the clueles misanthropes are still scratching their heads wondering why there was a mass exotus.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            Gotta be honest, when you see what some people bring in to vet clinics and what they ask of staff, it’s pretty easy to hate them. Everyone wants miracle cures for peanuts for the animal that’s been sick for days/weeks/months.

            1. ENFP in Texas*

              This is precisely why I didn’t become a vet. Dealing with the animals isn’t the issue. Dealing with people who don’t take care of their animals is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish, and I don’t know how vets do it.

            2. not a hippo*

              Fine hate the idiot owners. Don’t hate me, the person who is at the front desk and has already been screamed at by the idiot owners.

  41. Cthulhu's Librarian*

    LW, I am waxing incandescent with rage over everything going wrong in this letter. I know this is going to be hard to hear, but this organization deserves to crash and burn as spectacularly as possible.

    I grew up around horses and horse trainers, and Jackie’s and breeders. I learnt to ride from a person who would go on to coach the US Olympic team. I work regularly at equine shelters to this day. So I’m used to dealing with some big egos, and when I say the amount of hubris and stupidity on display by the organization you volunteered for is staggering, I’m qualified to judge.

    You are better off without them – and so are the organizations clients, who were no better positioned to judge how much risk they were being placed at than the average person on the street is to judge the seaworthiness of a submarine.

    A horse that trainers are actively concerned about belongs exactly nowhere near an inexperienced rider, and that’s with an extremely competent instructor on hand. For anyone at that org to have let you use that horse for a lesson was not merely bad judgement – it was either gross negligence or actual malice.

    To have been allowing lessons with only one person on site was inviting disaster, especially given your service population.

    The interpersonal drama? The stunningly bad attitude of just about everyone involved? That’s just the rotten fondant someone has used to cover a under-cooked cake gone bad with mold.

    Let it burn, and be glad no one died, on your watch or otherwise.

    1. Rebecca Gilbert*

      I appreciate this comment, because what I kept thinking was, “none of this is appropriate for a therapeutic riding program!” Let me count the errors:
      * Having volunteers take a horse out with a client alone
      * No sidewalkers or trainer/horse person division. You should have one person to watch the horse and one to watch the human.
      * Having that volunteer take out a client on a horse they’ve never worked with
      * Inappropriate horses – therapeutic riding horses have to be dead calm and bomb proof. They are going to be dealing with strange noises, unpredictable movements and clusters of people all around them. Our horses had tons of personality but they also watched out for their riders and were calm and predictable.
      * Giving a volunteer that flighty, skittish horse that shouldn’t have been part of a therapeutic riding program.
      * Sending them to ride outdoors where the number of distractions and risks increases versus being in an arena
      * Not informing the volunteer of potential risks and behavioral quirks of the horses

      All this (and more, I’m sure) resulted in an injured volunteer and a rider being placed at direct risk for harm. I sincerely hope the LW had her medical costs covered, but I doubt it.

  42. The Person from the Resume*

    What should I do?

    Thanks to your recent lack of particpation in the last couple of years, you should do nothing. Maybe just stay on the mailing list to notice if the organization comes survives this soap opera finale and seems to have improved since you’re interested in volunteering and I suspect it’s the only organization like it near you.

    If you were more invested or involved because you had been particpating, there might be more for you to do. But your lack of involvement makes you an outsider and you should not voluntarily get involved in this steaming hot mess of horse poop. Let it go.

  43. not a hippo*

    I’m genuinely confused by this letter. You don’t volunteer there any more, why get involved? Unless you’re trying to build a case agains them for negligence?

  44. Megan*

    I’d grab the popcorn, wait for this to play out and then decide if getting back in the fray is the right move.

  45. Kali*

    This is funny timing for this letter, because the bananapants non-profit I volunteered for just contacted me this morning asking for something. (The volunteer who contacted me doesn’t know about the non-public drama I got dragged into that caused me to quit.) I’ve been weighing whether to just help with this low-effort thing or not, and then I read this.

    Speaking as someone who Went Through It as a volunteer, OP – stay away. Looking back, there were a lot of red flags in my situation, and many of the same ones are all over your letter. Places like this tend to draw in a lot of Very Intense People with Very Intense Feelings about their chosen cause – the lack of pay means that all that keeps people there is their intense feelings, which can spin into bananapants-land very easily. It doesn’t get better, and you can’t fix it – you’ll just get dragged into drama that you neither want nor need.

  46. Ink*

    You’ve got a firestorm of topics people get really passionate about, the groups the program serves, horses, the weirdness volunteering sometimes generates… it’s a lot. Add to that the inherent danger of being around horses, particularly for the inexperienced, and established sketchiness of their approach and I’d stay far, far away- and see if you can find a similar program in a decent proximity to you to refer people for either services or places to donate if people who know that you were involved in a program like this for a while ask. Your experience is worrying enough that this might be a win. Better to implode via email than because someone got seriously hurt.

  47. Llama doctor*

    Welcome to the world of animal related volunteer organizations. If you value your sanity stay away from this one and any others.

  48. Kindred Spirit*

    I have volunteered with a couple of domestic animal rescues. I thought it would be a great way to help animals and meet some people outside my usual circle, which tends to be people I met through work or went to school with. I couldn’t believe how dysfunctional those organizations are, and it all starts at the top. What I initially took for passion and commitment was too frequently about misguided priorities and unaddressed mental health issues. Those in leadership roles at the rescues seem unable to set limits— you just can’t realistically rescue every animal in need. There’s not enough volunteers, space, funding, or potential adopters, yet I know multiple people who are overextended financially, have taken in too many hard-to-adopt animals into their own homes, and have sacrificed marriages and personal relationships because this is all so out of whack. Now that I recognize this, I set really firm boundaries around what and how much I am willing to do when I work with these groups.

  49. pcake*

    Wow. Just wow.

    Years ago, I worked in a stable, and at one point the owner purchased 3 horses with issues. The first thing the stable owner did was explain the issues with each horse to us in detail so we could take care to be safe, keep the riders safe, to keep the horses safe, and we were informed to NEVER put a child or an inexperienced rider on any of the 3 horses.

    Using a horse that spooks for kids and as a therapy horse seems jaw-droppingly irresponsible, but I can’t see how it was the letter-writer’s fault in any way, and they certainly shouldn’t have had to throw themselves in front of the horse. I see this is very VERY bad management – the second “very” is because it was dangerous, and any stable manager or owner should have known better.

    Without that information, someone – staff or riders – would almost surely have gotten hurt, and the horse that spooked very easily did once make the news by running off with an experienced rider all the way to the main street, which wasn’t that close and involved lots of hard pavement. Had a less experienced rider been on that horse, I’m sure they’d have been hurt.

  50. Marissa*

    As a general rule, if an organization revolves around horses, it is a toxic, chaotic organization.

  51. Bookmark*

    Given my experience with nonprofits, I would also caution the OP to do some recon about any orgs with similar missions nearby and/or new orgs that spring up in the next couple years. The bees may have all migrated to a new hive.

  52. Bit the Bucket*

    LW I’m sure there’s a lot of good advice/perspective posted here already. Here’s my two cents as someone who’s volunteered at a couple horse places, and watched drama at other animal volunteer orgs from afar:

    —This organization has done nothing to earn your trust, goodwill, or patience. They abused (or at the very least took advantage of) your support to put you in an inexcusable and dangerous situation, that resulted in injuries so severe you spent multiple years recovering—but blamed you for it (!), and didn’t bother to contact you in a meaningful way after the incident (!!).

    Personally, I think that if you want to email the president and let them know about your experience, it probably won’t hurt, but I don’t know if it will have the impact you hope it would. Ideally, volunteers are treated with respect and valued for more than just free labor or cash. When I volunteer somewhere, I want to feel like I’m part of the organization, not just a resource to tap and then disregard. Based on your description of what happened, it sounds like their respect for you came up very short, in very significant ways. And maybe a lot of that was because of the coordinator, but where was the president during this? If they were unaware that seriously bad stuff like your situation was happening, what were they doing that this messed up system was allowed to grow around them?

    Meanwhile their email sounds like they view volunteers very antagonistically, and that they aren’t focused on what’s needed to treat volunteers right or to get the organization on steady footing. There are other non-profits and rescues out there that would do a better job of treating your effort and time with the respect it deserves. That isn’t your festering stall to muck, and it’s not your hay bill to pay.

  53. glt on wry*

    Hey OP, Just want to say thank you for you dedication to horses and ponies and to equine therapy. I know what you have gone through really sucks the (feed) bag, but I love how your dedication shines through, and I know that won’t get squished out. Hooves up to you!

  54. AnAngryPolishHen*

    My first post-college career was as a therapeutic instructor. Unfortunately, this can be par for the course. The horse world can be extremely toxic, drama-filled, and petty. It was one of the many reasons I left (terrible management, unliveable wage, and extreme pressure added to it as well). I miss my students and the horses but that’s it. I’m happy to have my gelding at a friend’s backyard farm, where there is virtually no stress.

    Also, OP, I’m so sorry you were treated that way by the volunteer coordinator. Volunteering at a TR facility is HARD work. You deserve much better.

Comments are closed.