The main bulk of the cost would be the lessons. A 45 minutes trial class on a weekend with helmet and boots rental cost me S$120.
The cheapest riding package I could find is S$800 for 10 classes that are 45 minutes each, and excludes the rental of helmet and boots. I got low-cost gear from Decathlon as well.
Then, I sought out Equal, an animal-assisted learning centre which aims to develop life skills in youths, people with special needs, families and the elderly.
This organisation also houses retired race and polo horses, giving them a second career as “therapy horses”.
I called the centre to offer my services as a volunteer on weekends. After some back-and-forth communication, including many questions about my motivations for volunteering and the caveat that I will need to be comfortable working with horses, I started my role there in April this year.
WHAT PICKING HORSE POOP TAUGHT ME
When I first started, I was attached to another experienced volunteer to learn how to muck out the stables and distribute the horses’ lunch.
She showed me how to clean the stables and take care of these magnificent creatures, and once I got comfortable with the horses, I was able to do things independently, and try out other tasks such as walking the horse, grooming, and cleaning their stables.
It is some ways off from my original idea of horse-riding, but this horse poop-picking experience is no less thrilling. At the same time, volunteering allowed me to be exposed to horses first before investing deeper into the sport.
For the six months that I’ve been doing this, I’ve learnt not only how to care for horses but also picked up several golden lessons from the volunteer to help me navigate through my working life.
The first advice is to not go around looking for poop, but to let it come to me and then deal with it.
Instead of digging through the bedding for horse poop, I learnt to sift up the hay and allow the manure to show itself.