Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015
Twelve volunteers made the bumpy drive down a long, narrow, overgrown path through the jungle. They arrived at Rancho Universo where they were greeted by a half dozen rescue dogs, a peacock and several rescue horses.
The volunteers’ task was to spruce up the visitor facilities and improve access to the corral where the horse therapy sessions take place. They used a variety of borrowed cleaning supplies and tools—machetes, a reciprocating saw, hatchets, pruning shears and gloves.
“We just tried to beat back the jungle,” said Gary from Nebraska. “It tries to encroach and take over, so we hauled away two pick-up loads of brush and tree trimmings—definitely hot and sweaty work.”
Rancho Universo is operated by Liliana Velasco-Ariza and provides therapy for children and adults with a variety of disabilities. It is also dedicated to providing a sanctuary for horses that have suffered from neglect and abuse.
Rancho Universo’s website explains that they “nurture and heal these magnificent animals and they, in turn, provide a safe, nurturing and healing environment for disabled children.” Children and adults can switch roles by becoming caregivers themselves, offering a carrot to a horse or brushing its coat. The simple riding of a horse can “assist physical healing through the reception of stimuli (including) positive results for those with neurological disorders, autism, cerebral palsy” and many other conditions.
Although Ilene, a Texas volunteer arrived a day later than planned due to weather delays, her Facebook status showed she was happy to be helping out.
“We got here in plenty of time to get our machetes and go to the horse farm today. Well, I actually never got a machete. All I got was a toilet brush, a broom and a rag for a mop, but all is good! So glad to have the opportunity to serve!”
More updates to come. ~ Phyllis from Nebraska