2016 Volunteer of the Year

My name is Jamie Barnhill and I am currently a volunteer at M.A.R.E. Therapeutic Riding Center.  I graduated from Garces Memorial High School in 2014, have just finished my sophomore year at Bakersfield College, and I am happily transferring to University of California, Davis in the fall to continue studying Biology with hopes of becoming a veterinarian.

When I first came to M.A.R.E. in June 2015, I had little-to-no horse knowledge and was looking for a way to gain experience in working with horses.  I was welcomed with open arms by the kind staff, fellow volunteers, and amazing riders.  I was taught how to safely clean stalls and pastures, groom horses, and prepare hay in a matter of weeks.  In addition to the basics, I also became a side-walker/ safety-aide for many students.  Interacting with these riders on a weekly basis allowed me to witness them work to overcome their struggles and grow as individuals every week.

Along with giving me experience in caring for horses, I also got to experienceriding-crp what riding a horse feels like for the very first time.  Both nerve racking and exciting, it was definitely something I will never forget.  As my experience around horses grew over this past year, so did my confidence.

Over the course of this year, I have gone from someone whose hands shook while cleaning a stall with a horse in it, to being able to calmly and confidently lead a horse through a lesson all by myself.  M.A.R.E. Therapeutic Riding Center not only provides amazing services to those with special needs, but also provides lessons in responsibility and boosts in confidence for both volunteers and students.  Participating in this amazing program and receiving the honor of being recognized as Volunteer of the Year has been an amazing, incredible, unbelievably wonderful experience.  Volunteering at M.A.R.E. is absolutely the highlight of my week and the memories I’ve made here are ones that I will cherish forever.

We are grateful to Jamie for her selfless hours of serving the riders and horses at M.A.R.E. and going “the extra mile” to assist at the CALNET show.  She has earned this special recognition and we are pleased to acknowledge her.

M.A.R.E. is a non-profit organization that serves approximately 50 riders each week and has 13 horses that require daily care.  This can be difficult to manage with a small staff.  Therefore, many of the daily needs for our riders’ lessons and horse care are provided by a committed group of volunteers who donate time to sidewalk, lead horses, clean stalls, and assist with facility care and maintenance tasks.  You do not need to have horse experience; we will train you.

M.A.R.E. welcomes those who are interested in donating their time on a consistent basis.  We understand that your life is busy and that it can be difficult to give time on a consistent basis, but that is precisely what M.A.R.E. needs!  As you assist the riders, they get to know YOU and look forward to seeing YOU and having YOU work with them.

If you, or someone you know, is interested in volunteering, please call us at 661.589.1877 or email volunteer@MAREridingcenter.com to have your questions answered.

The next training is scheduled for Saturday, May 6th, 1:00 – 3:00; call the office to reserve your place.  You need only attend one.

How to Become a Volunteer:

    • Read this Volunteer Page in full.
    • Download and complete the Volunteer Application at the link below.  Volunteers are accepted year-round, except during August when the barn is closed.
    • Call M.A.R.E. at 661.589.1877 to schedule your place for Volunteer Training.
    • Come to Volunteer Training; bring your completed Application.  You will watch a video about equine-assisted therapies, tour the facility, and be trained in stall cleaning, safety protocols, and sidewalking.  (Allow 2+ hours and wear appropriate shoes and clothes that can get dirty.)
    • Sign up and get started!


    • Be a minimum age of 14 years old.
    • Must like children, horses, dust, flies, and sunshine!
    • Be physically able to maintain a steady fast-paced walk, with arm elevated for a minimum of 30 minutes at a time while walking on a sandy footing.
    • Be able to tolerate temperatures ranging from 30 to 105 degrees F.
    • Be willing to learn and follow M.A.R.E. procedures.
    • Be able to accept constructive feedback.
    • Be able to follow directions and act as a silent (most of the time) helper.
    • Possess the ability to remain calm in an emergency.
    • Be able to commit to a consistent volunteer schedule on a weekday morning or afternoon or Saturday morning. (Closed Sundays.)

Dress Code:

  • Appropriate clothing: nothing revealing or low cut, no tank tops or spaghetti straps.
  • Long pants, jeans, or riding breeches are best.  No sagging pants.  Shorts may be worn in the summer but must be no more that 2” above the knee.
  • No dangly earrings or other jewelry or scarves.  Long hair must be pulled back or up.
  • Closed-toed shoes that do not flop are required.  Boots or shoes with socks that cover your ankles are preferred.
  • Hats, sunscreen, and sunglasses are recommended.
  • NO cell phones while volunteering.  We have a place for you to keep your phones and keys.

Volunteer Responsibilities

  • Arrive when scheduled or notify the M.A.R.E. staff by phone, 661.589.1877, or by email, volunteer@MAREridingcenter.com, if you are unable to work your scheduled shift.
  • Come appropriately dressed and be prepared to perform a variety of tasks which could include: cleaning stalls, arena set up or take down, horse grooming, sidewalking, cleaning offices, cleaning tack, gardening, washing brushes and buckets, sweeping, watering, dusting . . .

Click “2016 Volunteer App” below, print, complete, and bring when you come for training.  If you are under 18 years old, you need to have a parent complete the liability and release portions of the application.