Monthly news & updates
April 2022
Session Updates
Spring Session Begins Monday!

We are so excited to see everyone back here on Monday! You all have done an AMAZING job at filling the spots needed for this session. This is one of the biggest sessions since before the pandemic, and I wanted to share the numbers with you:

20 Therapeutic Riding Classes
10 HEARTS Sessions (unmounted)
157 Volunteer spots to fill every week!

As you can, it takes an entire village to make our sessions run smoothly! None of us could do this alone! Whether you are volunteering in one class, 10 classes, or are helping behind the scenes, you are helping to make this all work!!

Class times that we still need help in are listed below. Please help if you can! Even if it's just for a few weeks- we would appreciate the help!

Monday 7:00- 2 more volunteers needed!

Tuesday 9:30 & 10:45- 1 more volunteer in each class

Wednesday 4:30 & 5:45- 2 more volunteers needed in each class for the session! Due to cancelations the first week, I need 3 in each class!!

Saturday 9:30- 1 more volunteer needed
Welcome New Volunteers!

We are so excited to welcome our new volunteers to the SMILES team! Make sure to say hi if you see them around the barn!

Charlene Staples
Cheryl Smith
Kathy Hankins
Terry Hankins
Heather VanPaassen
Saskia Lodder
Monica Tomasello
Janet Schommer
Georgia Stewart
Elizabeth Hannah
Heather Peterson
Training & Education
Volunteer Workshop Recap

We had so much fun at our first volunteer workshop of 2022! Volunteers were able to practice side walking and horse leading, and work through several scenarios that we sometimes encounter in class. We appreciated everyone's time and energy, and your commitment to your volunteer role by attending a continuing education event! I had a lot of fun, and I hope you did, too!

If you weren't able to attend, no worries, we created a handout so you can get all of the same information! I will have copies available next week when the session begins, or you can access it using the link here: Side Walking Workshop Handout

We tried to get a picture of everyone! Check them out HERE!
Training Video:
Using a Shedding Blade

It's that time of year again! Let's help the horses shed their itchy, thick winter coats! For those of you who are new, grooming takes a little longer this time of year, and you will leave the barn covered in horse hair. Watch this video to learn how to properly use a shedding blade and metal curry comb!
Safety & Emergency Procedures Training Module

In last month's newsletter, I released our newest training module for new volunteers, all about safety and emergency procedures! This is an important module for ALL VOLUNTEERS to review, as SMILES is mandated by PATH Intl. to review emergency procedures with our volunteers. Please take a few minutes to to complete this module and the quiz at the end. Thank you!

Event Updates
Virtual Tack Sale

Another virtual tack sale is in the books!! We put many, many hours into this event, and it was a success once again. It was another "biggest year yet!" We blew our $10,000 goal out of the water and raised over $13,000! Thank you to everyone who put in so many hours to make it happen.
Santa Cause Success!

We received our proceeds from all of the 2021 Santa Cause Events! It was their biggest year yet, raising $120,000 overall for eight different Walworth County charities. SMILES walked away with just under $12,000! Thank you to everyone who helped make it a success and volunteered their time or purchased raffle tickets! The committee for 2022's Tree Festival will be forming soon! Let us know if you're interested in participating!
April Volunteer Spotlight
April Spotlight is on.....Pat Walsh!!

How did you become involved with SMILES, and how long have you been volunteering?

My knowledge of SMILES preceded moving to Wisconsin from Tucson, Arizona, in 2018. In Tucson I volunteered at a PATH therapy stables called TROT (Therapeutic Riding of Tucson) for a little while. The work and clients there touched my heart. I found SMILES online and toured the facilities with Katie Lue before I even bought my home in Fontana.
Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Lansing, Illinois, a far south suburb of Chicago, where my best friend and I played horses–galloping, neighing and jumping over sidewalks– and arranged our horse statues into judged horse shows. 

Who is your favorite horse at SMILES and why?

At this time, I am grateful for the gentleness, acceptance, and cooperation of Rio. After a long absence from SMILES (and the isolation we all experienced), I lost my "horse confidence." Well, wouldn't you know, the very first session back I was to halter and lead Rio in class in the outdoor arena. My heart was racing, but Rio just said, "No problem, lady. Let's do this." He was the best way for me to come back into SMILES. 

If you were gifted a million dollars, what would you do with it?

Tough question and difficult decision, because a million just doesn't seem like enough for all the horses, dogs and cats who need rescue homes. At SMILES, I would like to see every client who could use financial assistance have the opportunity to ride and have the benefits of horsemanship.
What is something you like to do in April?

My fall-gathered seeds are sprouting and growing indoors under grow lights right now, and my flower garden needs a lot of clean-up. I'm "chomping at the bit" to get the garden ready for summer.

What do you enjoy about volunteering at SMILES?

The story I often repeat when trying to explain the equine therapy work of SMILES and its instructors is about the first time I watched a young woman leave her wheelchair on the ramp, lift up onto a therapy horse, sit straight and tall, and move through space effortlessly, with confidence, and above the heads of everyone else. Magic!

Is there anything else you'd like your fellow volunteers to know?

The Suzanne T. Daniels-Shadel Sensory Garden is growing just outside the SMILES entrance doors along the driveway. It is the Walworth County Master Gardener Volunteer project of Sue Daniels and Kathy Schmidt. The garden is a respite place for the wonderful caretakers and volunteers of our SMILES clients. I invite you to stop, sit a while, and reflect on the remarkable work you all do for so many, including the SMILES horses.
April Birthdays at SMILES!
Happy Birthday!
Pat Plucinski, April 1
Sandy Dujardin, April 1
Karla Bockholt, April 5
Sue Campbell, April 7
Elaine West, April 12
Cindy Lapidakis, April 8
Sharon Bates, April 16
Sebastian Coy, April 19
Diana Moses, April 28
Find us online!
SMILES transcends traditional therapeutic methods by offering individuals with special needs the joy of participating in an equine-assisted program which provides social, emotional, physical and personal rewards.