A black draft horse named Merlin gently nickers in Kim Elliott's ear as a mustang named Duke noses up to her treat bag. As Duke's "guardian angel" at the UC Davis Equestrian Center, Elliott doles out carrots like candy at a parade. Once a week, she dotes over the 18-year-old retired lesson horse, taking him out to graze at his favorite grassy field and brushing his wooly winter coat. The program is designed to give the center's horses some time off from riding while both partners benefit from the horse and human bond. Over the years, Elliott, 56, has cared for her own horses at her Woodland property. After her equestrian daughter left home and her horses were gone, she realized the need for a "horse fix." "Once you have a partnership with them, it's just amazing," she says. "They're so majestic. I really love them."
To sign up for the required series of classes on horse care and safety to become a Guardian Angel volunteer at the UC Davis Equestrian Center, call (530) 752-2372.
To suggest a community volunteer for the I Care column, contact Lezlie Sterling at firstname.lastname@example.org