Laura Bogenschutz - Equine Therapy in Argentina
For my Projects Abroad trip, I chose to volunteer in the Equine Therapy project in Cordoba, Argentina for a total of two months. Out of all of the projects, I am so glad that this option was available for me. As an aspiring occupational therapist, this project was a great fit.
The Equine Therapy project
Equine therapy involves using recreational activity to improve overall well-being, including motor skills, emotional management, and focus, just to name a few. After learning more, I couldn’t wait to experience this type of therapy for myself.
The project involved a number of tasks. With the other volunteers, we worked together to care for the horses, help with lessons, and manage the upkeep of the facility. Though the work may have been challenging, I was able to find a good balance.
From traveling to La Cumbre, to taking a day to explore the city, or chair-lifting into the mountains in Carlos Paz, the other volunteers and I stayed busy in our spare time. After two months of intense togetherness, I must say, I really miss those friends. It was very refreshing to meet people from other places in the world, and it definitely enhanced my time there. After my return, I can only say that I wish I had more time with the people I have met, but I remain thankful for every day I had.
Before volunteering in Argentina
To be honest, even though I was excited to travel and start the project, I was also very scared. Out of all the anxieties I had, the aspects that scared me the most were the language barrier, riding a horse for the first time, and, learning to help kids with special needs. I wanted to make sure I was patient and receptive, but without much previous experience, I was unsure of how comfortable I would feel. I also wanted to enhance my Spanish-speaking skills, but was afraid I would be too shy. However, once I realized I was in good company, my anxieties seemed to melt away.
My Equine Therapy project supervisor
I never would have been able to overcome my fears without Veronica, the founder of Equinoterapia and my project supervisor. Vero is amazing…just, amazing. I can’t explain how welcoming, loving, and selfless she is. Her energy is an essential part of what made my experience so great. Starting day one, she hugged me tight and treated me as if I were a part of her own family. Her teaching style is very enthusiastic, and you can really tell how much she genuinely cares for each individual that comes for her help.
She showed me how to be loving and patient with the kids, and also taught me how to take control of the horse. She is utterly appreciative of everything you do to help her, even with the small tasks such as brushing out the horses or braiding their manes. The best way I can describe her is as a beaming ray of sunshine that goes around giving everyone hugs and encouragement. I am so thankful for this wonderful woman, and often hope that I one day I will be able to return to visit her therapy center.
Volunteering with children
Moreover, the best part of this placement is getting to know the children. To me, every one of those kids is extremely brave. I must say, it is very impressive to see a child with a severe physical impairment take control of something so large. They’ve shown me the true meaning of persistence, and the importance of running towards what I fear.
Now that my project is over, I often think back to how fortunate I was to have been a part of Equinoterapia, and will never forget this amazing experience.