Monthly news & updates
August 2021
Session Updates
Sign up for Fall Session!

Our Fall Session will be the largest yet since returning last year after the COVID-19 shut down! We are so excited to welcome back several schools/groups, and want to make sure we are prepared with volunteer support!

There are 2 ways volunteers can help:

ONE: Please sign up for your classes now using the link below. If you can add 1 extra class to your schedule for Fall, that will really help us out and allow even more clients to come through the door!

TWO: Please refer a friend to volunteer! The 2 dates for Volunteer Training are listed above in the "Dates to Remember" section. Send your friends my way!! We can use all the help we can get!
Update on Treats for the Horses

After careful consideration, the SMILES Board of Directors, with the support of SMILES staff, has made the difficult decision to implement a zero volunteer treat policy for our horses. This policy will go into effect on Monday, August 9, 2021. We will only allow treats for the horses to come from our students and only in the designated treat bowls at the end of class times. The reasons for this policy are many, but to highlight a few, they are as follows:
  • Many of our horses are overweight and for their health, comfort and wellbeing, they need to lose that weight.
  • Many of the horses have become "nippy" or "mouthy" as they have become accustomed to receiving treats anytime they want. This behavior has become increasingly difficult to manage, especially for our new volunteers.
  • Treats should only be given sparingly and as rewards for good behavior. A treat given at the wrong moment can inadvertently train an unsafe or unwanted behavior.
  • As the number of classes and students continues to increase, so does the number of treats our horses are receiving. Our herd may come in contact with 20+ different volunteers in a single day. Imagine eating 20+ pieces of candy yourself and the bellyache you might experience!
Knowing how important this rule will be in keeping our horses healthy and safe, we know you will help us all and do what is best for our entire herd.

All current class volunteers will receive a letter addressing this policy in further detail, as well as ideas on how you can reward our horses in non-edible ways. To read the full letter, click here.
Updated Mask Policy

Effective on July 13, 2021, the SMILES Board of Directors approved a change in our current mask policy. For individuals who are vaccinated, a mask is not required. For individuals who are not vaccinated, it is recommended that you wear a mask indoors. SMILES will not ask you for your vaccine status and we are operating on the honor system. Please be considerate of those around you, regardless of your opinions related to the vaccine and the COVID-19 pandemic. Please remember that asking others about their personal health choices is not appropriate.
Garden Work Day
Wednesday, August 4, 9-11

Please help our Master Gardeners maintain our beautiful Sensory Garden. Please join us on Wednesday, August 4 to help weed, deadheading, etc. Please bring your own tools if you have them! Let me know if you can help!
Superstar Student Horse Show!
Saturday, September 18, 10am

We are SO EXCITED to be able to host our annual Superstar Student Horse Show & Open House this year!! Summer Session will be spent perfecting skills and forming teams with the horses and volunteers. This is a fun day that you won't want to miss! We need lots of volunteer support at this event with everything from leading and side walking with the clients, to selling food in the food booth, to handing out trophies, checking in clients, and more! If you are able to help for a few hours on this special day, please click the link below!

SMILES Volunteer Video
We have a new video!! We unveiled this video at the 2021 golf outing, and it was so much fun to see! We added it to your YouTube Channel, so please take a look! Thank you to all of the volunteers and clients who "smiled for the camera" and helped us create a beautiful, engaging video! Please feel free to share this with anyone interested in becoming a SMILES volunteer!
News from the Barn
Welcome Chili!

We would like to officially welcome our newest therapy horse “Chili” to the barn! Chili is an east coast fella, coming to us from New Jersey where he was used as a lesson and trail horse. He is a 13-year-old Quarter Horse gelding who is on the shorter/stout side which will be great for future side-walking duty!! He is filled with personality and wants to be friends with anybody who will give him a minute of their time. We are very excited to see how his trial period goes. Hopefully he will be joining our Fall Session roster if all goes well!
Happy Hello, Freckles!

Also joining the Fall Session roster is Freckles, a Quarter Horse-Cross gelding! Freckles came to us with Chili, where he was used for trail riding out east. His stature is tall and lean making him a helpful addition to the herd to take over some of Django’s old riders! His quiet and laid-back personality will be great for building confidence both with new volunteers and students. We are thrilled to have Freckles and Chili joining the team for what looks like will be a VERY busy Fall Session! 
Goodbye, Sharon
It is with heavy hearts that we say goodbye to longtime therapy horse, Sharon, after her long struggle with a breathing condition called “Heaves” (similar to severe asthma for humans). As many volunteers noticed this summer, Sharon struggled to breath comfortably and was often heard coughing when simply trying to eat her hay. When the condition worsened to the point where medicine was no longer able to help, the veterinary team felt it was in Sharon’s best interest to be laid to rest. Sharon was purchased 11 years ago and quickly developed severe knee arthritis due to a bone chip from earlier years as a field plow horse. This ended her riding career and Sharon became a HEARTS-only horse. Sharon will be remembered for her quiet and patient demeanor, where many clients were able to build confidence while learning the sequencing of grooming, parts of the horse, and leading. We are grateful for the time we had with her and are thankful she is no longer in discomfort. 
Training & Education
How to Approach Props/Poles/Mailboxes
Approaching class props with a horse/client/side walker can be a lot to navigate, so we made a video that will help! We would appreciate it if ALL CLASS VOLUNTEERS would review this video. Even if you have volunteered here for years, there is always something to learn, and with new class props/new horses, we sometimes need to adjust how we navigate these situations. Here are a few tips that will help, no matter what horse you are working with:

-Approach SLOWLY! You will need to stop your horse, so just like driving a car, you will need to slow down before you stop. This will also help you place the horse in a precise location for your student to complete the activity.

-Move your body to the front of the horse, looking back towards the rider (similar to when we bring horses through the mounting area). Again, this will help you precisely position the horse where it will benefit the student.

-Pay attention to spacing! If you have 1-2 side walkers, you need to give extra room. We also want to make sure the riders' feet don't knock into a prop, like a mailbox or tall pole.
SMILES' YouTube Channel

Click the link below to subscribe to our YouTube channel!

August Volunteer Spotlight
August Spotlight is.....Betsy Lizer!!

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

I started volunteering in June 2020 after a friend suggested I check out SMILES. I’ve been riding since I was 3, so this is the perfect mix of horse time and helping out.

Where did you grow up?

I'm from Rockford, IL, but currently live in Janesville, WI.
Who is your favorite horse at SMILES and why?

I haven’t met a horse I didn’t like, but Lincoln has to be my favorite! He was the first horse I worked with at SMILES and he has the best personality and the kindest eyes. (Or eye.)

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

I’d donate some to SMILES and some to the humane society, then get a horse of my own.

What is something you like to do in July?

Anything that involves water - lake, pool, slip ‘n slide, you name it!
What do you enjoy about volunteering at SMILES?

Getting to meet all the different people and horses takes the cake. And working with Meghan, Alison and Jenny is always the highlight of my week.

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

I hope this doesn’t sound cheesy, but I feel really lucky to volunteer with everyone!
Event Updates
Time to get ready for the Superstar Student Horse Show and we need trophies and ribbons!!

Join our trophy disassembly and building team!
We will be working Friday, August 13th from 9:00 AM - 12:00 noon.

Email Liz if you can join us.
August Birthdays at SMILES!
Happy Birthday!
Tiffany Howell, August 5
Kathryn Harbison, August 6
Joan Dutton, August 7
Betsy Lizer, August 10
Katie Boss, August 14
Madysen Moxley, August 14
Greg Stevens, August 21
Glenn Boss, August 23
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.