​​Shenandoah Valley Equine Rescue Network

Understanding Where to Stand
It should be understood that even the safest zone is not 100% safe. Haltering and leading should be done in the green zone where you are the safest and have the most control over yourself and the horse.​

Welcome to the SVERN Team
We are happy to have you as an addition to our organization. The Shenandoah Valley Equine Rescue Network can’t exist or survive without the help and support of the community and our volunteers.

This organization thrives because of people like you, thank you for becoming a part of our team!

Our Mission
It is our mission to provide care and rehabilitation to abused, neglected, and abandoned horses. We also strive to educate the public in horse care and ownership in the hopes that we can stop future abuse from occurring.

  • Table of contents

  • Basic horse safety
  • About Horses
  • Volunteer jobs and responsibilities
  • Barnyard rules and policies
  • Rules regarding riding
  • Emergency procedures

Basic Horse Safety
Horses are among one of the most unpredictable animals that humans have domesticated. While it is extremely rewarding to gain the trust of a horse, especially one that has undergone trauma, it is also important to also exercise caution when working with the rescue horses no matter how safe they may seem, how well you know them, or how long they have been with us.

From the moment you enter the gate to a horse paddock, or approach a horse in the stall, you should be cautious and aware of several factors including: the horse or horses’ position, your position, and horse’s expression and demeanor.

Let me hear your body talk-More ways the body communicates

Curling upper lip: The horse either smells or tastes something peculiar or interesting.
High head and tail: Happy and/or playful horse
Licking and chewing: Sign of calmness and submission
Pawing and Stomping: Bored or irritated horse
One hind leg kicking: An aggressive warning to human or horse
Both hind legs kicking: Clear sign of aggression toward human or horse
Cocked leg: Contentment or foreleg discomfort

Contact Management immediately if any of the following occurs:
     Charging and lunging at humans or other horses
     Rearing in hand or under saddle
     Bucking in hand or under saddle
     Striking or kicking at humans

About Horses
Horses are social and herd bound by nature, when animals group together they form a unique social structure, and horses are no different. In the wild horse herds are run by a lead mare and one to three stallions. The stallions set herd rules, run off potential threats to the herd, including other stallions, and look out for other dangers. While the lead mare chooses where the herd travels, and helps the stallions with herd relations. While we do not have a herd like the wild horse has, we do have a herd that has its own unique social structure that can change at any time. Be aware of what horses do and don’t get along,
who is in charge etc...

Horses are naturally prey animals and look at humans as predators unless shown that they can think of us otherwise. Rescue horses are likely to be very fearful and may even be aggressive toward humans. It is our job to be patient, kind, and help rehabilitate these animals so that they can trust again.

Horses are generally nervous and sudden movement and noises will scare most of them. Use caution when doing things like opening umbrellas, shaking trash bags, or even when moving a known object like a wheel barrel.

Barn Manager:
Shannon Ott (540)-550-7476

Vet Information
Vet Info: Dr. Fred at Mountain State Equine (304) 856-3010

Farrier Information
Steve Turel (540) 550-8259

Emergency Contacts:
Georgia Rossiter (540) 409-6710
Claudia Swisher (540) 858-3090

Horse Expressions and Body Language
Horses are extremely expressive and through these expressions, they alert handlers to what they are thinking and feeling at that time. It is important that when working with rescue horses everyone be able to identify an aggressive horse from a fearful horse, a content horse from a dull horse and the list goes on. Understanding the emotion behind a certain behavior can help us catch illnesses, correct unwanted habits, and above all keep all humans and horses safe.

Volunteer jobs and responsibilities
SVERN has many opportunities for those who would like to volunteer and help the horses. Job responsibilities include feeding, mucking, barnyard chores, training, riding, helping train and recruit new volunteers, and more. Feel free to inquire about any of the following jobs:
    Feeder
    Groomer
    Trainer
    Exerciser
    Groundskeeper

SVERN also participates in a number of fundraising opportunities throughout the year and we need the help of volunteers to ensure these events are successful. Please consider donating your time to help with a fundraising event.

SVERN volunteers are responsible not only for the assistance in the care and rehabilitation of the horses, but the grounds as well. It is important everyone work together to try and maintain a quality environment for both humans and horses.

Feeding horses
Our horses are brought in to be fed grain twice a day every day. We do this for a couple of reasons; we want to look them over and check for any signs of illness or injury and treat if necessary, we also want to constantly and consistently handle the horses so they can learn to trust human interaction. We also want to build a healthy weight on those horses that are underweight when they arrive at SVERN. This makes feeding one of the most important jobs at the rescue, as

A feeder you will be responsible for:
     Giving the horses either their morning or evening meal
     Teaching the horses basics on space and manners
     Helping keep the grounds clean

Our procedure for feeding includes:
     Confining the horses in the same spaces everyday
     Giving the horses the proper amount of feed, feeding them the improper amount (or the wrong feed) can result in health or recovery complications.
     Grooming and checking over the horses while waiting for them to finish
     Mucking out stalls and barnyard and replenishing water supply

Grooming Horses
Horses should be groomed at least a few times a week. Grooming is probably the best way to bond with a horse, and is the number one training exercise on the ground. Grooming teaches horses to stand and be patient, pick their feet up with little or no hesitation, and they like to be groomed! If you choose to be a groomer, or wish to add grooming to your existing barn chores

You will be responsible for:
     Getting the horses used to human contact all over their bodies
     Teaching the horses to stand, and in some cases tie quietly
     Teaching the horses to pick their feet up, and keep them up

​Grooming head to toe includes:
     Curry combing the horse’s body
     Using a firm and soft brush on the horse’s body
     Using a soft brush on the horse’s face
     Picking out the horse’s feet
     Combing out the mane, tail, and forelock of the horse
     Using a damp cloth to wipe off eyes and nostrils
     Fly spraying the body of the horse (spring and summer only)
     Treating any scratches or abrasions with medicine

Training Horses
Training is one of the hardest and most important jobs we have at SVERN. Trainers are in charge of creating the perfect training program for each individual horse. Trainers are also the ones who work the closest with our most difficult, frightened, or aggressive horses. As a trainer you will be

Responsible for:
     Understanding each individual horse and their needs
     Ground schooling horses through lounging, line driving, and other on the ground activities
     Breaking some horses to be ridden
     Training green broke horses
     Maintaining all training equipment
     Cleaning off all horses and equipment after use

If you are interested in training you will have to go through a qualification process to figure out what horses are in line with your ability. This is to keep both our horses and trainers safe. If you are not quite able to train by yourself yet, please feel free to help and learn from our existing trainers.

Exercising Horses
Exercising horses is similar to training, but those who exercise will generally be working with our trained, or green horses. Exercising involves either on the ground exercising or riding, depending on the ability of the horses and human.

As a horse exerciser you will be responsible for:
     Giving horses regular exercise either on the ground or in saddle
     Assisting trainers with horse’s schooling
     Maintaining any equipment or tack used
     Cleaning off all horses exercised that day

Groundskeepers don’t necessarily work hands on with the horses, but they help maintain the environment of the horse so that we are able to continue caring for them. If you are interested in
Being a groundskeeper you will be responsible for:
     Keeping weeds and overgrowth under control
     Operating any farm equipment we have

     Fixing structure problems within the barn and in paddocks
     Maintaining the fences

It is important to note that none of these jobs are exclusive, volunteers may have one or all of these jobs depending on their availability, ability, and desire. Please do not hesitate to contact someone if you are interested in trying out a new job around the barnyard.

Barnyard Rules and Policies
We at SVERN want nothing more, but for everyone to have fun and be safe. We hope our rules and policies reflect that sentiment.
      No one is permitted to engage with the horses, or use SVERN equipment unless they have signed a waiver, been through an orientation, and received this handbook. NO

     Children 13 and up who are accompanied by an adult are welcome to volunteer
     There is no smoking, drinking, or drug use permitted on SVERN property
     No opened toed shoes are permitted
     If you make trash, please throw it away in a proper container, not on the ground
     Pets up to date on vaccines welcome during special training days
     Please contact management in case of emergency
     Do not ride or train horses, or use training equipment unless you have been permitted by Shannon
     Do not be abusive toward the horses or other humans-

        this is unacceptable and will not be tolerated by any of our staff
     Have Fun!!!

R ules Regarding Riding
      Do not ride unless you have been permitted, our horses are not all safe and bombproof, and some             of them can’t be ridden due to injury or compromised health
      Wear proper riding gear: this includes riding boots and a helmet!
      If riding alone, contact someone with SVERN both before and after you ride, and only ride in the                 round pen
      Groom your horse before riding, and clean off after
      Differ to the trainer’s judgement, if the horses isn’t ready for what you want to do,

         then they aren’t ready
      Use only tack that has been approved for that horse
      Be safe, relax, and have fun!

Emergency Procedures
In case of emergency with a human being do the following:
      Contact 911 if needed first
      Contact SVERN staff
      Please wait with person until help can arrive

In case of emergency with a horse do the following:
      Contact SVERN staff immediately
      If unable to contact SVERN staff contact our vet (number is in this handbook and in the barn)
      Please wait with the horse until help can arrive

This first horse is alert with his ears pricked all the way forward, head is held up, and its lips are pressed tightly together. He also has white showing above his eyes; this is a scared horse. He could bolt, turn quickly into or away from people, or rear.

The second horse is one that is relaxed. Her ears are resting to the sides at an idle state, her lower lip is hanging, and she is showing a soft eye. This is a horse that is safe to approach and handle.

The third horse is one displaying signs of aggression. The ears are flattened against the head, neck is outstretched, nostrils are
closed, and the eyes are drawn downward. This horse could bite, kick, or strike if given the chance.