I started being a volunteer at the Exmoor Pony Centre in summer 2011, rather by accident.
Whilst walking my dogs on Winsford Hill, I came across people on horseback and in 4 x 4's and wondered what they were up to, as it was not the hunting season. Being a nosey person I had to find out what they were doing and was told that they were assisting with the rounding up the ponies for a vet check.
After chatting about what they do, I went along to the Centre to investigate further. I liked the idea of helping the Exmoor ponies but had no experience with horses at all. There was some work needed doing in the office so that is where I started.
I have learnt a lot about the ponies and the Moor by listening to other staff and volunteers talking to visitors. It did make me realise that I knew very little. In fact, I knew nothing about the management of the herds. I had no idea that the Exmoor pony was an endangered species.
All the staff and volunteers have been very patient with me, especially when there has been the opportunity to handle the ponies. I can now put on a head collar and fill and hang a hay net (which to the uninitiated is not as easy as it sounds). I have even had a go at foal handling which was the most amazing experience. I was able to 'cuddle' a foal that had been running free on the Moor earlier in the year! Everyone should try this; it is very therapeutic.
Identifying the ponies at the Centre is really difficult for me because they all look very alike. Fortunately, they are all branded with an individual number which helps.
I thoroughly enjoy my days at the Centre, meeting visitors and talking to the ponies. I have even taken my Rotties to meet the ponies, nose to nose! Who knows what challenges may be thrown at me in the future!