In her own words - Piper Sheldon’s Story
I moved to Lebanon in 2010 and drove past the barn twice a day on my way to work in the Operations and Compliance Dept. at a financial firm in Bedminster. I always noticed Beyra in the paddock and thought she was gorgeous! I had been wanting to get back into riding (I rode briefly in my middle school days) but didn’t have the funds, lol. Volunteering has always been close to my heart. I’ve participated with Habitat for Humanity on a couple of their Women Builds. I’m very good with kids and after a little bit of research, I found that Mane Stream was a perfect fit to get my horse fix, hang out with kids and like-minded animal/horse people.
I attended the volunteer orientation in late 2011 and started volunteering the following January. I have always participated in speech-language pathology since starting in 2012 and have enjoyed every client along the way. My favorite part of the barn is being part of something bigger than me and helping all the people that benefit from the therapies offered. My favorite memories are when clients have a breakthrough or “aha moment”…. speaking a complete sentence, reaching a milestone, communicating what they want and have it be heard and validated, etc. I love being a part of clients’ successes!
Beyra was the horse who drew me into Mane Stream and though I love the entire herd, Beyra will always have the #1 spot in my heart. She was a gem and there will never be another like her. I felt a real connection to her and will always treasure my time spent with and around her. Coming in a close second are Dart, Blaze, Minnie, and Ian. Dart is just funny. Blaze is the best stop/starter around. Minnie is a woman after my own heart since she is all business and Ian is just a sweet guy walking around with his crazy mane looking like a life-size Ugg boot.
I have made lifelong friends in other volunteers and staff. The most important thing I have learned at the barn is teamwork. It takes a whole crew working together to make the 45-minute session count for the client. They are the whole reason we are there. Helping them reach their goals and make sure they succeed is our only job. We have to leave our own stuff at the door and show up for these amazing people. I am a better human because of the time I have spent volunteering at Mane Stream.
Volunteering always satisfies my soul more than any other activity.
It’s good for the heart and keeps me coming back to Mane Stream week after week!
Perseverance & Determination When Put to the Test
The Therapist’s observation from day one…
As staff, we always enjoy working with new volunteers and watching them learn and grow. Coordinator of Therapy Services, Melanie Dominko-Richards recounts Piper Sheldon’s first day 7 years ago...
The horses at Mane Stream are the best of the best, but they each have their own quirks. They can sniff out a new volunteer a mile away and will ALWAYS put them to the test. Piper is no exception. Her bright and bubbly personality did not phase Prince the Pony one bit as he decided how he was going to test Piper. After I helped get his halter on, Piper led Prince down the aisle towards the crossties for grooming. Prince had other plans. He took Piper on a tour of the barn, checking out each stall along the way for left over “schnibbles” in the feed tubs and on the floor. With each stall, Piper didn't lose her cool as she tried to convince Prince that it was time to work and not for an afternoon snack.
It's great to look back on this memory and think how Piper showed perseverance and determination, and still maintained her sense of humor. Prince eventually learned who he was dealing with and gave her minimal trouble the following weeks!
Having a volunteer like Piper who knows the ropes is beneficial because she can mentor new volunteers. She is also great in working with the therapists and can "pick up what we're puttin' down." Like a catcher to a pitcher, she knows what each gesture, facial expression, and voice intonation means. She incorporates that information into each session to help our clients reach their goals.