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Voluntourism Spotlight: Rancho Universo Horse Sanctuary

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While you may know Cozumel as a beach destination you may be surprised to know it is also a gathering place for horse enthusiasts. This week’s Voluntourism Spotlight introduces the Rancho Universo Horse Sanctuary and Equine Therapy Centre, a resource for animals and children in need.

At the non-profit Rancho Universo Horse Sanctuary and Equine Therapy Centre, volunteers work tirelessly to rehabilitate horses so that they can help local children in need. The Sanctuary was born out of the rescue of their first horse, Chechen, in 2001 and equine therapy has been ongoing since 2007.

Rancho Universo Horse Sanctuary founders believe that horses are a mirror to the soul and that spending time with them actually helps us gain balance in our own lives. Volunteers are there to work, hands on, with rehabilitated horses maintaining their hooves and homes so they can be used as assisted therapy animals for children with neurological disorders.

Horse-assisted therapy helps children both physically and emotionally by providing them with an alternative form of interdependent mobility that gives them a greater sense of independence.

There is never a dull moment as a volunteer at the center. A typical day starts with the feeding and basic grooming of the horses. After breakfast and a brief meditation you may find yourself doing general maintenance: mucking stalls, tidying up the yard, cleaning the water trough, etc. or cleaning tack and preparing horses for riding or therapy. And by the end of the day there is usually time to reflect and relax by taking the horses out on the bridle path for an hour long ride through the jungle.

Volunteer opportunities are year-round and you can stay for a week or a month – it’s up to you. Prices range from $450 for one week to $1,195 for one month. Your donation pays for your transportation, your stay at the ranch and it helps to ensure that children are able to receive therapy free of charge.  No experience is necessary.

Visit them on Facebook, or learn more about the organization through Go Abroad.

By Kari Adwell for