Like no other animal, the mustang is seen as the epitome of the American way of life: free, wild and independent. Sadly, this concept is only partially true nowadays. Apart from the roughly 15,000 mustangs still living in the wild, there are at least equally as many living in sub-standard conditions in captivity.
You will fly to Orlando International Airport in Florida, where you will be picked up by an employee and taken to your accommodation and workplace. The team will organise your transfer to the airport at the end of your stay. As a volunteer, you will take part in this exciting project, which is devoted to protecting and rehabilitating these animals.
Mustangs are rescued from abuse and find refuge on this beautiful ranch east of Orlando. They are often in a very bad state when they arrive, even at death’s door. On the ranch they are cared for, tamed and trained in professional surroundings and in compliance with horse management standards, so that at least some of the animals can be found homes with horse-lovers. The permanent team is both competent and warm-hearted and enjoys a good reputation in specialised circles. They say that the mustangs are wild at heart and can therefore not be tamed by force. But if they do manage it, it is a profound, intense and life-changing experience. To ensure sustainability of the project, the ranch offers training courses and seminars all about mustangs and their care. This animal welfare project certainly left lasting impressions on NATUCATE. You can support this scheme as a volunteer and take the opportunity to contribute to a project which is as momentous as it is worthwhile. It will be both a memorable and educational experience.
You will be staying directly on the ranch during your volunteer period. Apart from your room, you will have the use of a bathroom and modern communal kitchen, which serves as a meeting place for the team. The volunteers have three meals a day. Most of the tasks are on the ranch, which is starting point for rides in the surrounding area or to other animal rescue centres and information events. If you just want to relax, the swimming pool offers an ideal opportunity for refreshment and the chance to meet others and exchange experiences. Everything is taken care of on the ranch - Volunteers participate in the cooking and cleaning of the accommodations. You don’t need to bring any bed-linen, towels or other household items. As you will be spending a lot of time outside with the animals, you should bring comfortable clothes, a hat for sun protection, a water bottle, mosquito repellent and most import of all: a camera! When out riding, we would recommend long-sleeved clothes and full-length trousers.
Everybody interested in volunteering abroad should be able to adjust to entirely unfamiliar standards of living in their future host country. Therefore, we would like to point out the importance of being flexible and adaptable regarding the accommodation and sanitary facilities provided by the project. Those are very basic and – depending on the project – cannot be compared to European standards. The equipment and furnishings are limited to a minimum; air conditioning is not available. Depending on your host country occasional power blackouts or water outages are quite common. Please contact us if you have further questions about your accommodation. We are pleased to provide you with comprehensive information since we would like you to feel entirely prepared for your time abroad.
During the week, you will usually be working Monday to Friday, as well as on Saturdays if needed. Apart from your work on the ranch, you will have sufficient time to get to know Florida and your immediate vicinity. During your volunteer period you will become acquainted with the country and its people while out riding, or make new friends at relaxed barbecues on the ranch. Riding along the nearby beach will be an experience you will never forget. There are many beautiful nature reserves in the area, all providing opportunities for lengthy excursions: by bike, swimming, fishing, canoeing or hiking, alone or with other volunteers. We can fully recommend the nearby Canaveral National Seashore, with the longest stretch of natural coastline in Florida, or the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Other options include a trip to Orlando, an interesting town with inviting nightlife and just 40 minutes away. Cypress Gardens is a lush botanical garden situated between Tampa and Orlando – well worth a detour. Since the Florida peninsula is at most 260 km wide, there’s no excuse for not making a trip to the west coast on the Gulf of Mexico. Beneath the palm trees, the picturesque beaches are reminiscent of Caribbean flair. Whether inland or on the coast, you will be fascinated by the awe-inspiring landscape.
Wild Mustangs are the descendants of European domestic horse breeds, and mostly live in the wild or on private ranches. The number of mustangs is estimated at 68,000. Many of the animals which are held privately (approximately 34,000) are not being kept appropriately. They are frequently exploited and mishandled. A horse farm in Florida on the eastern coast of the USA takes in wild horses which have been physically and mentally abused. The farm cares for them and rehabilitates them in a comprehensive training programme. In order to do this, the farm requires people who have experience working with horses and a love for the animals. The aim is to pass rehabilitated horses onto a better environment where they can live without the risk of violence.