Work with Us
***We will be closed from November 2019 to Spring 2020. Please fill out a "Request for Volunteer Information" Form in the meantime. We look forward to meeting new volunteers in the spring!***
Volunteers are the heart and soul of Challenge New Mexico. From setting CNM’s course, to staffing programs, to fund-raising, to miscellaneous clerical duties, volunteers help with practically every aspect of the organization. Without them, Challenge New Mexico would not exist.
A Day In the Life:
What do volunteers do at the CNM Ranch?
A little bit of everything!
Here's a quick look at how one volunteer's day usually goes.
Dennis is a faithful volunteer at the CNM Ranch. Each day, he arrives at the ranch an hour before the first rider is scheduled to arrive. He spends some time mucking (cleaning) stalls and checking that the water tanks are full. When the chores are done, he goes to the pasture and halters the horse that will be going to work first. He spends time grooming the horse - body, mane, tale, and hooves. He saddles the horse, and our team is now ready to ride.
Dennis holds the horse steady as the client mounts. He knows how to guide the horse to the mounting ramp and how to counter-balance the saddle for riders that mount from the ground. During the session, Dennis leads the horse or walks on one side. He helps make sure that the horse is calm and relaxed and that the rider is balanced, safe, and having fun.
At the end of the ride, Dennis helps the rider dismount safely, and he unsaddles the horse. He helps get the next horse ready for the next rider.
By the end of the day, Dennis has helped several riders experience the joy that comes from being with horses. He has put some extra miles on his boots, and he goes home smelling like a horse. He keeps coming back because the horses and riders have given something to him as well - the joy that comes from helping someone experience something wonderful!
Plus, we know he kinda likes smelling like a horse :)
When you volunteer, you are not paid in money or recognition, you are paid in love. People may forget what you said, and people may forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.
More About Volunteering
Do I have to know about horses in order to volunteer?
No! We do not require you to know anything horse related before joining us as a volunteer! We will happily work with you and help you learn everything needed to be a great part of the team, and we are happy to share our way of horsing with you. If you come ready to learn, we are ready to teach!
Do I have to know how to work with people with disabilities in order to volunteer?
No! This is a great way to start learning about many aspects of working with people with disabilities and special needs. If you can talk with your friends, you have all the skills needed to be a great volunteer! CNM staff and seasoned volunteers will help you learn to interact with riders in a safe and fun way. If you are willing to learn, we are ready to teach!
How old do I need to be?
We ask that volunteers be at least 14 years of age. We do work with school programs such as TAP (Santa Fe Prep) and Mentorship (Monte del Sol).
ALL TEENAGE VOLUNTEERS MUST COMPLETE THEIR OWN APPLICATION.
We love for parents to be involved in their child's volunteer experience, but teenage volunteers must show they have the maturity to communicate effectively with CNM staff in order to volunteer at the ranch. Parents will need to sign the Insurance Waiver and Release of Liability (scroll down to download the form) before minors can volunteer in any capacity.
What should I bring with me to a day at the ranch?
WATER BOTTLE - The number one thing you will need is a way to stay hydrated during the day.
APPROPRIATE CLOTHING - Wear clothes that are suitable and comfortable for ranch work. We HIGHLY recommend long pants, comfortable closed-toe shoes good for walking, a hat, and sunscreen. You will not be allowed around the horses without closed-toe shoes - we don't want those toes to get squished. In the spring and fall, pack a jacket for our unpredictable weather (it is generally windier and cooler at the ranch than in town).
LUNCH - If you plan to be at the ranch all day, please bring your own lunch. Eating lunch and drinking water through the day will help prevent dehydration.
A GOOD ATTITUDE - No matter what your experience with horses or people, whether you have shown horses or worked in a hospital or only seen pictures of horses or feel awkward around people... COME READY TO LEARN SOMETHING NEW! We love what we do, and we love to share it with everyone who comes through the gates. If you come to the ranch ready to experience something new, you will have a great day!
How do you train volunteers?
We work with our volunteers the same way we work with our horses and clients - with a lot of patience and at the person's individual pace. We want your first time at the ranch to be spent with our wonderful clients - working with clients is an amazing experience and we know you'll enjoy it! The very first training you'll receive will focus on keeping yourself safe around the horses and keeping our clients safe around the horses. We will also cover how to side-walk with our clients, how to groom and saddle, and other basic knowledge that will help you be a great part of the CNM team. Training is done on a one-on-one basis and is generally "on the job" training rather than by a formal volunteer orientation.
What will I be doing while I'm at the ranch?
WALKING - We spend a good amount of time walking with our clients as they ride the horse.
GROOMING AND TACKING - We change out horses and saddles often, many times for each rider.
CHORES - Volunteers generally help with ranch chores like mucking (raking up horse poop), filling and cleaning tanks, and other horse care tasks.
HAVING FUN - Yes, we work hard for our clients, but it's the kind of work that you will enjoy doing!
How many days or hours do I have to volunteer?
As much or as little as you would like. We do NOT require you to fill a certain number of volunteer hours with us. Whether you would like to volunteer all day for four days a week or one morning a week, we would love to have you on our team! However, we DO ask that you try to be consistent and that you communicate changes with us as soon as possible. It is very helpful to know when we need to schedule more volunteers or when we are fully staffed. As long as you communicate with us, we can be flexible with your schedule.
Can I help in areas other than the therapeutic riding program?
Yes! If you would like to work with our program, we would love to hear from you. Send us an email with how you would like to help, and we can discuss the details.
How can I get started?
Simply fill out our online or PDF application. Send us an email to say hi, and let us know you sent an application in. We will work with you to set up a time for you to come visit the ranch!
We are so excited to having you join our team! Fill out our online Volunteer Application or download our PDF Volunteer Application to get started! When you come to the ranch, bring your completed Insurance Waiver and Release of Liability.
Online Applications are mobile friendly!