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August 16, 2012

Copy of Volunteer at Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch and Doris Day Horse Rescue and Adoption Center

Help us make a difference for animals in one of the many volunteer roles at our Texas ranch

  • Anne Favre, Director of Doris Day Horse Rescue, plays with Fabio, an adorable rescue from Assateague National Park. The HSUS

  • Volunteers help the staff make horses like Ranger ready for adoption. The HSUS

  • Former volunteer Ben Callison (now director of Black Beauty Ranch) poses with Friendly, a beloved former resident. The HSUS

  • Volunteers watch a demonstration at Doris Day Horse Rescue and Adoption Center facilities. The HSUS

  • Stacy volunteers on the ranch grounds. The HSUS

  • A smaller volunteer works with a horse, Mustang Sally, at the Doris Day Horse Rescue and Adoption Center. The HSUS

About our volunteers

At Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch (CABBR) and Doris Day Horse Rescue and Adoption Center (DDHRAC), volunteers are essential to our ability to provide care to over 1,100 animals of 50 different species daily. They contribute in a wide variety of ways ranging from administrative work, helping with maintaining the grounds, building enrichment toys for the primates, grooming and caring for the equines, and coordinating special events such as our open house or tabling events. Importantly, our volunteers have fun and make new friends, while helping animals.

The Doris Day Horse Rescue and Adoption Center also offers a special horsemanship program that teaches volunteers about horsemanship and prepares potential adopters to become better caregivers. In this program, volunteers learn ‘hands on’ horsemanship, while serving a vital role in horse rehabilitation. Volunteers also help with horsemanship education and outreach activities. Progression through the system enables volunteers to work with more difficult horses and participate in more educational opportunities. Many of our volunteers participate in the DDHRAC horsemanship program in addition to other, non-horsemanship activities on CABBR.

Black Beauty Ranch location

The Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, which includes Doris Day Horse Rescue and Adoption Center, is located in Murchison, Texas.

Volunteer opportunities

Click on role title to view an expanded position description.

All volunteers begin by assisting in one of the Level One opportunities listed below. (If volunteers have extensive horsemanship experience, they may begin at advance levels within the Doris Day Horse Rescue and Adoption Center’s horsemanship program with permission of the Director.) After completing 60 hours of service, volunteers will have the opportunity to apply for participation in one of the more advanced Level Two positions as well. Demonstrated competence in Level Two positions may lead to engagement in a Level Three task for some volunteers.

Level One

Administrative Assistant: Provide administrative support to staff by helping with common office duties such as data entry, photocopying, filing and answering phones.

Garden Club: Help keep our gardens flourishing by providing general garden care.

Facilities and Maintenance: Assist with general maintenance and repair of the ranch.

Open House Club: Help to plan and carry out our (annual/semi-annual/quarterly) open house events at the Ranch.

Outreach and Special Events: Represent CABBR and DDHRAC at local community events to promote our programs, services, and horses available for adoption, as well as promote our volunteer programs to members of the public.

Photo Club: Use your photographic talents to capture images of the animals in our care, and the work we do.

Tour Guide Team: Help visitors to CABBR and DDHRAC learn about our resident animals and our programs as they tour the ranch property.

Volunteer Leader: Help develop our volunteer program by participating in a volunteer leadership team, helping to deliver volunteer orientations and trainings, and helping to engage volunteers more fully in our work.

Advanced—Levels Two and Three

Equine Assistant: Assist the equine care staff with mucking, feeding, grooming, and provide other equine care as needed.

Exotic Assistant: Assist the exotic care staff by cleaning, feeding, and providing general observation of the exotic animals at Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch.

Horsemanship Program (DDHRAC only): Develop horsemanship and equestrian skills through natural horsemanship approaches while preparing horses for adoption.

Primate Assistant: Assist the primate care staff with cleaning, feeding, and providing enrichment for primate residents.

What our volunteers say 

“Black Beauty Ranch is heaven on earth for animal lovers. Volunteering at the ranch makes me feel good about helping animals, and it’s a great feeling to know that when I leave, the animals are in such good hands. I leave the ranch feeling like a million bucks after I’ve spent the day there, and on top of the having the privilege of hanging out with some fun animals while volunteering, I get to do it among some very cool people. As animal lovers, we never meet a stranger at Black Beauty Ranch.” —Pam Duffy

“We have learned so much about horses and horsemanship at Doris Day Horse Rescue and Adoption Center: Love, Language and Leadership! I am so impressed with the teaching we have received. It has been safe, respectful of us as learners, considerate of our skill level, patient, and also has given us a chance to experiment with new techniques learned....It has been so wonderful to experience all aspects of owning a horse. As my other daughter, Jamie, said to me after helping out one day at the Doris Day Horse Rescue, “Mom, I like this place, the people here are nice and it is so well organized.” Thank you all! You all have created a special place for horses and those who want to learn how to help horses.” —Beth Boyd and daughter, Karli Boyd

“There is nothing like the feeling of driving home after a hot, sweaty, dusty afternoon at the ranch smelling like a burro and knowing that I made a chimp happy that day.” —Stacy Smith

“I just love coming home hot and sweaty with hay in my hair and horse slobber on my clothes. It comes from knowing I've had a wonderful day with the hands on experience and the unconditional love I receive from these magnificent horses.” —Donna Talley

Benefits of volunteering

Regular volunteers at Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch and the Doris Day Horse Rescue and Adoption Center are able to meet and work with like-minded people while having the opportunity to learn about animals. Volunteers have the opportunity to make a real difference for our animals while having also fun in activities like caring for our 50 different species ranging from tortoises to horses to chimpanzees, or becoming a better horseman. Volunteers in the Doris Day Horsemanship program also enjoy access to licensed Parelli instructors, support for advancement through your Parelli levels, use of DDHRAC horses, access to guest instructors and DDHRAC library materials, as well as free attendance at wellness clinics on site.

Becoming a volunteer

Commitment Policies:

  • All volunteers begin at Black Beauty Ranch/DDHRAC in a Level 1 position and work for a minimum of 60 hours before they are considered for advancement to a Level 2 animal care position. (Exception may be made by the Doris Day Horse Rescue and Adoption Center director for volunteers who wish to pursue the Horsemanship Program and who have extensive horsemanship background.) Volunteers are also welcome to continue on in their Level 1 position beyond the initial 60-hour commitment.
  • Level 2 and 3 volunteers are expected to work one 4-hour shift per week. Level 2 volunteers must complete 80 hours of service and Level 3 volunteers must complete 120 hours of service in four months’ time.
  • Horsemanship track volunteers commit to working 10 hours per week.
  • Volunteer shifts are 8:00 a.m.-noon and 1:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.


  • Volunteers under 18 must have permission from a parent or guardian to participate in our program. Teens 16-17 may work independently after attending the orientation with their parent or guardian. Teens 12-15 can volunteer with a parent or guardian as their partner at all times.
  • All volunteers must have current tetanus inoculation.
  • Volunteers who seek to work in our Primate Care team must provide proof of vaccination against Hepatitis A & B and provide proof of a negative TB titer.
  • Volunteers must meet the requirements of the Essential Capabilities document.
  • We can accommodate some court-ordered community service in our program. Please note there may be restrictions on the types of volunteer activities allowed for mandated service.
  • Volunteers must pass a criminal background check.
  • Volunteers are provided with one t-shirt to wear during their volunteer service; additional shirts are available for sale.


  • Complete an online application form. A staff member will contact you to discuss opportunities and schedule you for an orientation.
  • If, after the orientation, we mutually determine that the opportunity appears to be a good fit, you will be asked to fill out an authorization form allowing us to carry out a background check based on the type of position for which you are applying.
  • Following the completion of the background check, you will be asked to sign a volunteer agreement and a waiver and release of liability.
  • After you are made an official volunteer, you will be trained in all aspects of your volunteer work.

Fill out a volunteer application now

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