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It's December 26th, and as we all know, the day after Christmas. Up until I was 15 Christmas meant the usual, spending all day with my Mom and three older brothers.

This year, however, has been exponentially different. My name is Izzy and I've been volunteering at the Horse Boy for just over two years now. Unlike most high school students, this isn't about community service hours or good collage resumes, to me this is about working in service to others. It's to love a job so intensely that I am more than willing to do it for free. To the point that, this year, I spent Christmas in the heart of the Horse Boy Tribe. An otherwise second family that have given me so much and that I in return have given my all too.

The day started with watching Rowan (aka Scub) open his Christmas presents. He graciously allowed everyone to sleep in until 7am. Then it was time to feed the animals. We were a pack, Rupert, Illiane, Virginie, Jenny, Rodrigo, and I. All people connected in someway or other to Horse Boy. Jenny fed the small animals which included the ducks, geese, pigs, deer and bunnies. Rupert and Rodrigo fed the stallions, Iliane fed the geldings which left the far aways (a group of horses that live on the neighbours property) to Virginie and I. I have high hopes of acquiring a driving license in early February so I can come to the farm after school, which means every time we feed the faraways I get a lesson in an old stick shift farm truck. I stall, bunny hop and take over 10 attempts to start on a hill but eventually I get where we need to go.

Post feeding brings a late Christmas pancake breakfast, and by late I mean 10am. Originally we had a plan to ride horses, but somehow we found ourselves playing rummy and sitting by a nice fire outside. Christmas was very relaxing. It's rare that we get to spend quality time just hanging out. At dinner we ate like true Europeans. A goose center piece from a local butcher, good meat that we saw alive only the day before. A happy goose, not from an overcrowded slaughter house.

The 27th meant back to day to day life, but day to day life at Horse Boy is very exciting. It started off with a trail ride with Rupert, Jenny and I. Jenny on a mustang named Spirit who had just recovered from EPM, Rupert on Clue one of the horses we mainly use for autism playdates and me on marvel, a very kind Dutch warmblood. We meandered to the A&L, a ranch with 175 acres of land to ride on. Clue a very good boy, really enjoys a good gallop, and so Jenny and I went off in a different direction, just trotting about, whilst Rupert took Clue on a well over due gallop. Together we gallop up a long hill at the end, and with marvels long strides, it feels fantastic. Never would I have guessed I would be doing such things two years ago.

I cant believe I have reached the point where, today I cantered up a fairly steep hill, and than took my very first jump on Marvel, a horse who has a tendency to overjump! The feeling after going on one of these rides is an adrenaline rush that leaves me with a sudden rush of energy. Need me a fetch a horse? No problem. Tack them up and lunge them? Done. Bounce on a trampoline? You say jump, I say how high. At the end of the day I am a horse crazed teen surrounded by a group of people who have the potential to make me the happiest person in the world and so I do my very best to give the same in return.

The rest of the day I lunged Reno, Manilla, and Bubba, poo picked, fetched horses, fed and cleaned up the house. All with the utmost please. The riding is food for the soul but the hard work helps my body be strong enough to make my dreams a reality. Digging post holes by hand and building fences helps develop my core strength which makes me a stronger and more balanced rider. A 50 pound bag a feed doesn't feel as heavy as it did at the beginning of this journey.

Over the last two years I've seen and done things I've never dreamed I could do. Learned flying changes on a Lusitano stallion, done Levarde and Pasarde on command, danced the macerana, at a canter with no stirrups whilst singing" call me maybe".

And all this coming from one thing, hard work and putting myself into the service of others. And through this my childhood dreams have begun to come true.