Studies in Indian Place Names (SIPN) with ISSN 2394-3114

Internship Insights: Madeline Burbach at Hearts and Horses

  • What was your role in your job or internship?
Hearts and Horses is a nonprofit organization that uses therapeutic riding as a form of animal assisted therapy. During my internship I performed several roles including horse leader, side walker, instructor assistant, and office attendant. A horse leader is a person who preps the horse, walks the horse, and handles the horse when a rider is unable to do so. The horse leader is in charge of the horse’s safety throughout the lesson. I performed this role in a lesson with at-risk youth, a lesson with mental disabled children, and in a lesson with veterans.
By participating in this role in different types of lessons, I was able to work with riders of varying abilities and see how they interacted with their horses. A side walker walks alongside a rider who is unable to ride alone. The side walker makes sure the rider is safe on the horse and is balanced when riding. I performed this role in a lesson with a physically handicapped teenager. An instructor assistant works alongside the lesson instructor to facilitate and teach lessons. I performed this role in all of the types of lessons described above. Finally, in my role of an office attendant, I was in charge of inputting client information, scheduling lessons, and recording progress reports.
  •   How did you find this position?
I was a volunteer at Hearts and Horses throughout my years of High School. I originally heard of the organization through my neighbor, who is a rider with a disability.
  •  What were the key factors in you being hired?
My desire to learn about the workings of a non-profit therapeutic animal facility drove me to be hired.  Because this was a volunteer internship, showing my passion and dedication was key in securing the position.
  • What do you love about the position? What is challenging?
I love knowing that I am making a difference. I am able to see the riders grow in their confidence and feelings of belonging by connecting with their horse. It is incredible to see the profound impact that an animal can have on the lives of others. It is challenging when a rider is feeling discouraged. There are only so many things that can be said to show the rider their strengths. At the end of the day, the rider must believe in themselves in order to be successful.
DU non-profit intern
  •  How did DU Career Services help you?
DU Career Services provided me with a grant that enabled me to work a volunteer internship. Without the grant I would not have been able to pay my living expenses and tuition. I would have had to work a full time job instead of being able to volunteer in my dream career.
  •   What advice do you have for other DU students seeking to find and learn the most from their internships?
I would advise students to dive in head-first. If you really want something, find a way to make it happen. I am a huge believer in the saying “if there’s a will, there’s a way”. Following your passion is key in future career happiness. Dream big fellow pioneers!
  •  What is your future dream job? How is this internship helping you get there?
I hope to one day open a therapy facility that focuses on the healing power of animals.  In order to accomplish this, I would love to research the animal human connection and discover other animals with healing abilities. I strongly believe that both dolphins and elephants also have the ability to heal. I want to discover a way to heal the people of the world, both people with physical limitations and mental limitations. Perhaps swimming with the dolphins can heal a spinal cord injury or riding an elephant can provide confidence to a child with autism. Maybe it’s a long shot, or maybe I just need to keep doing my research. No matter what I do with my life, I know that I will make a difference in the lives of others.
The internship at Hearts and Horses allowed me to live out my passion as I reach for my own lifelong dream of being an animal assisted therapist. Through this internship, I was able to work on both the administrative side and the client side of therapy. I was be able to practice a form of my career, allowing me to fine tune my career goals.

Hearts & Horses, a non-profit therapeutic riding facility nestled in the foothills of Northern Colorado, has been changing lives for people with disabilities since 1997. In addition to our work with handicapped individuals we offer Equine Assisted Learning programs for at-risk youth.
Our instructors are rigorously trained and certified by PATH Intl., the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International. Hearts & Horses is a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center – the highest level of accreditation possible and is a highly regarded training facility for therapeutic riding instructors. Read about volunteer opportunities here.

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