grooming. I had ridden horses that others had saddled, but I never saddled a horse or knew anything about horse behavior. We helped several young girls pick up all the horse manure in the dry lot and then we selected horses from the Big Pasture and brought them in to curry and clean their hooves. I knew how to pick up manure, but I had no clue how to groom a horse, but my friend showed me how. We split the week, she came on Tuesday and Thursday and I came on Monday and Wednesday. We spent several months cleaning and bringing in horses to feed, but were not given the feeding responsibilities until the beginning of the summer.”
I also learned how to halter a horse and use a lead rope to familiarize them with backing up and coming toward you when you asked. I have learned to pay attention to their ears and be aware when you are in the middle of a group of horses. Occasionally, if you only use the rope to close the gate and not the chain also, several horses are smart enough to open the gate on the Big Pasture and the Back Pasture and a real rodeo occurs when several horses come walking or galloping across the barn yard who automatically head for the open spaces and/or the grain cart.
I asked Cheryll about the most demanding work that she has done at the sanctuary. “Before we drug the tires in the pastures to spread the manure, we used the cart to pick up the manure in the pastures. During those times we worked alone. We would haul it out behind the run-in shed and add it to the large manure pile already started. Many times the route to take the cart was deep in mud or snow and it was difficult to push or pull the cart.
One hot summer day I was working by myself and I went in to Connie’s office around 2:00 pm. Connie asked me how I determined when I would leave and I said “there was a level of cleanliness that had to be reached before I could leave.” Thankfully, we now have better methods of manure removal.
When asked about some of her fondest times at the sanctuary Cheryll stated, “Before I was familiar with Maude, the mule, and knew her habits, I was standing near her one day and she turned around with her rear end facing me and I thought she was going to kick me, but then I realized she wanted her rear end scratched. The most entertaining event is watching Danny Boy bite the water coming out of the hose when I am filling his water bucket. He gets really animated and entertains himself and me. This winter, he also tried to take my ski cap off my head by biting the tassel.”
So, why have you continued to volunteer at the horse sanctuary for so many years? “The best thing about volunteering is getting attached to the horses and understanding their personalities. They know their names and can come when you call them. They are like 1,000 lb. dogs; they want to be petted and treated with kindness. I have seen horses come in that are afraid of anyone and after a few months of gentle treatment, they relax and are easily handled.”
In addition to working at the farm with the animals, Cheryll also helps maintain our website at www.MissouriForgetMeNot.org. She also volunteers to help at every fundraiser, if she can, and this year she hosted the 5K/10K Run/Walk after the original organizer moved away last year. She also hosted the Hidden Hills Challenge with Alicia Machino. MFMN is thankful to have such dedicated and committed volunteers, like Cheryll, to assist us in our mission of saving the lives of these beautiful animals.