...my treasures do not sparkle they clink,
they shine in the sun and neigh in the night...



TALYA - September 2023

I still remember waking up at dawn, breathing in the fresh Tuscan air, admiring the spectacle of the landscape, the trees and hills surrounding me, feeling a wave of adrenalin, excitement and happiness for the day I had yet to experience! My first day was unique. Those first steps, the ones where you can really contemplate one of the most majestic creatures on Earth in its best habitat, are beyond magical. These horses, who have endured lifetimes of pain and suffering, are finally running free, loved and cared for by their herd mates, but also by the amazing team at IHP. It was in those first moments that I realised that volunteering at IHP would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

As a 17-year-old girl, who had never had anything to do with horses until 16 September 2023, this first experience was incredible and unforgettable. Being side by side with these animals was always amazing. But what really made my heart beat were those wonderful moments when we climbed the hill and brushed their manes. These incredibly powerful horses were absolutely gentle, sweet and patient as we worked, sometimes even for 15-20 minutes per mane. I still remember Olimpique, who kept following me after a brushing session, eager to stay by my side to receive little affectionate cuddles from me. Or Valentino, who is a romantic lover, who always showed his affection in playful forms to the volunteers. Spending time surrounded by these animals, whether it was distributing their heavy food in the morning and late afternoon, spreading those tasty flakes they love to encourage them to eat their mash, or even preparing their hay and pens for the night, really left me with a feeling of fulfilment and grounding. In those moments, the work might be hard, but the reward is incredibly sweet. The feeling of pride in seeing Sonny smile at a job well done is priceless. It is even more so when you are close to the horses and they show themselves at their most vulnerable: your heart melts. It makes you realise that these horses, always considered to be entities ready to fear humans, have made an extra effort and shown trust in you.

Volunteering at IHP has been as rewarding as one could wish for, even though it is not an easy job! Waking up early, carrying several kilos of food or water to the stables back and forth, understanding the horses' language... but the time spent there flies by like the blink of an eye. It is the moments filled with laughter from the team and volunteers, the moments of building new friendships with humans and animals, and the moments of learning and serenity in the midst of nature that make the IHP experience so wonderfully beautiful!