At present, all of the activities at Open Gates are conducted by volunteers of all ages and backgrounds. Our volunteers work with our trainer to learn how to handle and gain the trust of the individual horses.
Please contact us if you would like to volunteer at Open Gates.
Meet Our Volunteers
Dan I work at Fairpoint Communications. My hobbies are basketball in the winter and baseball in the summer. At home, we have 5 cats Nolan, Selena, Grey Kitty, Tyler and Lilly.
At Open Gates, my buddies and I do maintenance – we fix whatever needs fixing and help with haying. We also help with fundraising.
My wife and I have always been animal lovers. People can speak up for themselves, but animals can’t. So they need people like those at Open Gates to watch out for them. And Open Gates really takes good care of their animals.
A lifelong horse-lover but always without the horse, I was thrilled to locate Open Gates and discover their need for volunteers. I am a legal assistant at a Portland law firm and I live in Auburn with my growing brood of five feline “fur-babies.”
I volunteer every Sunday morning at Open Gates, and when not mucking stalls, lugging water buckets or picking hay out of my hair, I can usually be found loving my favorite equine resident, Cleo, a Standardbred-Hackney mare. I have a soft spot for all animals, but the unconditional love, trust and companionship from such large animals is humbling and keeps me coming back for more!
I live in Gray, Maine with my husband John and daughter Christy; another daughter, Misty, lives in Augusta, Maine. I have three dogs, four cats and soon two horses will be added to the family. Since childhood, horses have been my passion and after being without them for more than 20 years, I felt it was time to reconnect.
Open Gates came into my life and it has been love ever since. I have found a horse I connected with and she will be coming home with me soon. Recently another wonderful horse came to Open Gates and she too will become a part of my family. It has been good for my soul to work together with all the caring, compassionate people that are so committed to these beautiful animals. It has been the best experience ever!
Denise & Tony
My name is Denise. My husband Tony and I, along with our boys Alex and Nick, have been coming to Open Gates on Saturday mornings for the past four years. I love all of the horses, though I’m most fond of Lady. She is a love bug and loves to give kisses.
I love all animals. Growing up we had cats, dogs, chickens, ducks and even boarded a couple of very mean ponies. I have had horses off and on throughout my adulthood and I remember Hobo and Jessie fondly even though I landed on my butt a few times! Now, we have three cats, Fidget, Scooter and Sunny (also known as Satan); one dog, Samson; and two horses, Dixie and BooBerry. Dixie is my old girl, she is about 35 and is now retired. Boo is nine and totally full of it, but as sweet as can be. I haven’t done much with her yet, I keep thinking that I don’t bounce as well as I used to – but I do love my girls.
Lucky for me, Tony (who did not grow up with pets) tolerates and even loves them all!
I (Tony) have been with Open Gates for four years and when I started, I knew nothing about horse care. Linda and Deb soon helped remedy me of my lack of knowledge. I have come to learn that a horse is much more than just an animal you feed apples to and ride. They are creatures who feel and have very specific personalities. I have grown so fond of the horses at Open Gates that my wife Denise and I donate a portion of the income generated by our business directly to Open Gates each month!
I am an artist, mother and horse/animal enthusiast. I love horses and have been riding and caring for them for over 40 years. I did not own a horse in 2007, but still wanted to be around them, so I began working at Open Gate Equine Rescue. I thought I might find a horse who was in need of a family. In 2010, Animal Control in our area contacted Open Gates about some horses needing homes. Open Gates knew I was looking to adopt a horse so they contacted me and I went to see what condition the horses were in. Cody, one of the horses, approached me as if to say “get me out of here,” so I did! Cody and I still like to visit our friends at Open Gates Rescue.
I rode my first horse at age four and in spite of falling off, I wanted to get right back on. I started taking lessons at age seven and I am now 15. I have been riding ever since!
Open Gates resident Lacey and I are very close. I met her when she was ill with colic and then I started to work and ride her the following summer. I have been working with her for two years now and am enjoying every minute of it, even if I fall off! The horses at Open Gates always keep me coming back, I can’t imagine a life without them.
Patty, Fred & Caroline
I (Patty) had horses growing up, but had not had one for many years. Then our six-year-old daughter Caroline caught the “horse-bug.” We took her for riding lessons and then she started talking about having a horse of her own. We wanted to make sure that she understood that there is a lot of work and commitment in having a horse. We contacted Open Gates and they invited us over to the barn to volunteer. That was over a year ago and we have been there almost every week since.
At Open Gates, we spend awesome family time and are surrounded by caring and dedicated people. Fred has now caught the “horse-bug” and is hoping to learn to ride this summer. We love seeing all the horses especially Miss Belle. Fred has nicknamed her Bulldozer. He is amazed at how strong a pony can be. Deb and Linda have helped us find three wonderful horses (and counting) to adopt. We are blessed to be part of such a wonderful place. As Caroline says, “I love horses!!!”
I work for FairPoint Communications as a Network Operations Supervisor.
Things I enjoy doing… My life centers around my daughter (volunteer Sophia) and I enjoy being outdoors as much as possible with her. I have always enjoyed horseback riding and being around horses (even their smell). I have worked to foster a similar love of horses in my daughter and it seems to have worked.
I started to volunteer at Open Gates for several reasons, one was to teach my daughter to give back to her community. With our love for animals (horses specifically), I thought Open Gates would be a perfect fit. I also wanted Sophia to see the less glamorous side of caring for horses and how much work was involved – she has not shied away yet. Another motivation was to help these neglected and mistreated animals, who are unable to fend for themselves, as well as their care providers. Now that I have been volunteering for some time, another reason I enjoy it is being part of a community of people who love horses and are genuinely interested in their wellbeing. What I like about Open Gates specifically is what Deb and Linda have done and taken on personally.
As difficult as Belle can be, she is my favorite horse.
I was the typical little girl with a pony in the backyard growing up. Like most girls though, high school and work and other stuff came between me and my love of horses for many years. Fast forward 30 years when, like many women, I could no longer put off having horses in my life, so I started taking riding lessons at a couple of local barns and scoured the internet for other options for having horses in my life again. What I found was a horse rescue right in my town – Open Gates!
I arrived at Open Gates around the same time as Herbie and Tuti, our resident minis. Walking into the barn, I took one look at that little white devil that was then known as Baby Rusty, all teeth and hooves and tangles and attitude and it was all over. My first words, I believe were, “He’s not Baby Rusty, he’s Herbie the Love Bug,” and the bond was made – both with Herbie and with Open Gates. Seeing the hard work and dedication that is involved in horse rescue is what keeps me moving forward most days.
The horses and people of Open Gates have been a huge part of my life now for four years and probably will be for a long time to come.
I am 8 years old and I am in 2nd Grade. My job is to play and be a kid. I love horses and will do anything to be around them. I have been helping at Open Gates since the fall of 2009 and it is a lot of work but I don’t mind.
Some of my favorite things are to take riding lessons and to visit the horses at Open Gates… and feed them apples and peppermints.
What I like most about Open Gates is that I get to visit and be close to horses (Belle and Tootie) and muck stalls, even though it is hard work. I volunteer at Open Gates because I want to help horses and there are lots of horses to help at Open Gates.
My favorite horse is Belle, but Tootie is pretty cute too. And Herbie is my 3rd favorite and Brad my 4th.
Stephen & Anna
We are a father and daughter team. Steve is a pastor at the First Evangelical Free Church of Maine in Westbrook and Anna is a 7th grade home-schooled student. We live in New Gloucester, only a few minutes away from Open Gates. Steve enjoys playing the bass and acoustic guitar, writing songs and gives beginner guitar lessons. Anna likes taking horseback riding lessons, reading and writing. With the rest of our family, we like vacationing at Madawaska Lake in northern Maine. Anna heard about Open Gates through an article in the Portland Press Herald when Open Gates was asking for hay donations. We started volunteering and have enjoyed working together ever since.
A lot of people have told me that I’m shy in school. They just haven’t seen the other side of my world – normally because I only let a few people in. Horseback riding is my life – actually it makes my life whole! And I’m a TRUE country girl at heart!
My hobbies are reading, four-wheeling, writing, and of course horseback riding! What I’m interested in is: barrel racing, horse jumping and this might sound silly, but jumping on my feet. I really like old cars, reading books helps keeps me company and I like to go four-wheeling. I volunteer at Open Gates is because I wanted to do something with my life.
What I like about Open Gates is that the people there are really open and excited about newcomers. It’s a great place to be, and the company of the horses will take away your problems too!
My favorite horse at Open Gates has to be all of them. I love them each in their own way. But the four horses that I’m closest to are Brad, Angel, Princess and Cody. First of all, Angel is a favorite because I’m starting to do some ground work with her, and then will move on to riding her. She makes me laugh because every time I go to pet her, she stretches her neck all the way up to the sky so you can scratch her throat. Secondly, Princess makes my top four for being the BIGGEST sweetheart! She enjoys the hot sun in the summertime when I get to bring her out to graze. I love to work with her and I hope that she loves to work with me too! The third in line is Cody. I know Cody is just boarding here during the winter, but I wish he were here full time! He’s the kind of horse that doesn’t care about what’s going on around him; he only cares about food. He makes me laugh, and the best part about him is that you can just walk right up to him and give him a big ol’ hug! Now, I have saved the best for last! His name is Brad, he was abused badly and still has his moments where he gets angry out of nowhere, but the first time I saw him, I was in love! The sight of him sent me dreaming! In the near future, I would REALLY like to ride him because I do trust him. But for now, I’m learning his body actions.
My wife tells me I was a cowboy in a previous life. She may be right! I have always had an affection for horses. I was fortunate enough to own 2 horses in the past so I have missed being around them. This winter I retired from UPS after 32 years. And I was looking to volunteer my time. What a perfect fit! I get to help out a worthy cause and be around horses at the same time.
Besides horses, I enjoy golf, basketball and softball. My wife and I spend some of our vacation time at western ranches on cattle drives and horse round ups. She must have been a cowgirl!
I have developed a special bond with a particular Paint named Willow. I think she feels the same way, or maybe it is just the carrots I give her. Either way I was told I am Willow Whipped!