Caring for so many horses is a non-stop job – it’s not the easiest but it is incredibly rewarding!
Since we started our volunteering programme in 2009 we have hosted over 70 volunteers. To see some of the great feedback we’ve had, scroll to the bottom of the page.
A Day in the Life of a Volunteer
Here’s a typical day in the life of a volunteer during the summer months (times vary during winter):
7.30 First muck-out of the fields, fill water buckets, assist with feeding
9.45 General stable jobs such as sweeping out/organising the stables, grooming, cleaning water buckets, assisting with showing groups around, etc. OR free time depending on whats happening each day.
12.30 Second muck-out, water, feed
18.00 Final muck-out, water, feed
19.00 (If volunteers are interested and there is sufficient time) Lunging, riding, halter training, handling, carriage training, etc.
As you can see, the work is very straightforward, if physical. You will get fit and build muscles (and get a great tan) during your stay. We repeat the muck-out/feed/water job three times a day to minimise the workload, rather than having one enormous session at the start of every day.
In volunteers we look for people who have a mature outlook, are genuinely committed to the ethos of volunteering, are self-motivated, capable of problem solving, who enjoy solitude, who enjoy working, who are happy to live without many modern conveniences, who are independent and can really get stuck into rural Greek life. People who have grown up in the countryside or around horses will particularly enjoy the farm.
If you are interested in and have experience with horses there is plenty to do in terms of training. We have a number of young ponies who are ready to be trained for both riding and also driving. On the farm we promote natural horsemanship practices from a variety of different teachers. For those with less equine experience but a genuine interest there is plenty of opportunity to learn.
The accommodation is quite basic. Our volunteer room has beds, a shower, toilet and a small kitchen area. When we have more than two volunteers we do sometimes have volunteers sleeping in tents, but they are still entitled to use of all the volunteer room facilities. We cook at least one hot meal a day, sometimes two, and we do ask for help with the washing up. For the other meals, food will be supplied, such as muesli, bread, cheese, tomatoes, and milk.
There is always free time in the afternoons which can be spent as you wish, walking, reading, going to the nearby beach at Palamari or just taking a nap! Volunteers are entitled to one and a half days off a week during which we will try wherever possible to allow you to visit Skyros Town and experience the local culture.
How to Volunteer
Just send us an email and we’ll send you the forms you need to fill in.
Here’s just a sample of some of the great feedback we’ve had from volunteers over the years.
Georgie Howells, volunteer from UK, Winter 2013
I spent 2 and 1/2 months on the farm and feel genuinely lucky to have had the experience. From day 1 I felt treated more like a member of the family than a volunteer, so thank you Amanda and Stathy for being such wonderful hosts and making your volunteers feel so at home.
The days are a great balance of work and free time and I believe you get out what you put into each day.
The ponies are amazingly intelligent, playful, and have a remarkable understanding and connection to people. With them and Amanda’s knowledge there is the opportunity to learn so much about horses whether you come from a horsey background or not.
I would strongly suggest staying for more than 3 weeks, because by then you start to really get things out of the experience. This is an amazing project truly worth committing time to, and in turn you’ll come away with your own rewards.
Coming to Skyros at the age of 19 has helped me in so many different ways and I feel like my life will be better because of it.
Alex Mullarky, volunteer from the UK, 2012, 2013, 2014
I have now volunteered on three occasions at the Katsarelias-Simpson Project and I intend to return every year as long as I can lift a bucket of muck! In June 2012 I went for two weeks but it wasn’t long enough, so I returned for a month in June 2013, and in 2014 I had a flying visit too. The Skyrian Horse is a beautiful, wonderful animal and a pleasure to work with. They’re so full of character. One night we all lay in the fields under the moonlight with the horses and I’ll never forget the way they come and stood around us and accepted us as part of the herd. One of the most rewarding aspects for me was working with Amanda who is a natural horsemanship practitioner. Her methods make so much sense, you will never treat horses in the same way again. If you are keen enough and work hard enough Amanda will make time to teach you what she can. The project is so worthwhile, the food is good and ‘The Castle’ is better than a 5* hotel! (Depends on your preferences, I suppose…) Personally I fell in love with the island and the project, and if you’re willing to work very hard – it will be a shock to you at first, but it will make you a stronger person – you will get so much out of the volunteering experience.
Ronja and Benoit, volunteers from Germany and France, Spring 2012
If you’re reading this review as an interested potential workawayer, still hesitating and stuff:
Well, stop. Just go!
Since the moment we were picked up from the port, I enjoyed every single second of our stay.
And this is not an exaggeration, I ensure you.
It was strange: On one hand, time seemed to run away from us,
on the other, it just seemed as if we knew the place and the people for ages already.
I had that feeling of curiosity and excitement you get when you go somewhere you’ve never been before,
but at the same time I felt like coming home.
There is only one thing I regret: Not being able to stay longer.
If you’re open-minded, appreciate what you are given and want to give back, if you feel comfortable in nature, are not afraid to take the initiative or to work hard, if you are sensitive to the affection an animal can have for you … you should be booking your tickets right now.
Amanda, Stathis, Dimos and Julietta are wonderful human beings, each of them unique and each of them an enrichment to the farm and your circle of friends.
Freedom, inspiring scenery and people, good music (thanks to Stathis’ and Dimos’ good taste), delicious food (those three made me dare to cook!), enough work (boredom is banned from that island), peace (I don’t mean the low circulation or few people there) . . . I can’t list all the things that made us so comfortable there.
Maybe it was just the simple things, those which make life worth living.
Jill Brotz, volunteer from the USA, 2011
I stayed on the farm for 2 1/2 months in the fall of 2011. The people involved with this project are passionate and knowledgeable about what they do. This is a very good place for anyone looking to work with horses on a deep level or just to be around horses. There are so many of them and it is fascinating to watch the interaction among the horses. Amanda and Stathis do need help with the daily tasks like mucking the fields. So if you like physical work, please come and help them! The rewards for your labor are unlimited. There is a really nice and comfortable volunteer room and the food is really good. Also, Amanda and Stathis are very knowledgeable about animals as well as many other things in the world so there is a lot to be discussed and learned. And you get to pet and play with ponies all day!!
Francesca Ilado, volunteer from Spain, 2011
It has been a great experience for me to stay for two weeks at Amanda and Stathis farm. The horses here are very easy to approach because of their small size, but also due to their gentle character which reflects the caring attettion they receive. Amanda knows a lot about horse behaviour and it was nice to get some tips from her. I also enjoyed the good company of Dimos and his lovely daugther, Julieta. Dimos is a great cook and a patient Greek teacher. And Skyros is such a beautiful island! I hope I will see you all again someday.
Mohamed Rizwan & Kader Batcha, volunteers from India, 2012
A couple of us volunteered at Amanda and Stathis farm for almost three weeks. It was our sheer pleasure to celebrate Christmas, New years and my birthday there. Amanda is lovely host and took good care of us. It was my first farming experience and i truly loved it. The skyrian ponies are lovely. I must not forget to compliment Amanda on her cooking skills, “I would pay to eat food cooked by her.” 🙂
The overall experience of volunteering at the Katsarelias simpson project s was also very humbling as we got the opportunity to meet genuine people and share interesting conversations. I am sure there are only a handful of people i would come across who share the same passion for doing something meaningful in life as Amanda & Stathis do.
Skyros is also a mesmerizing little island, with easy access to beautiful beaches, evergreen pine forests and many walking trails one can discover. I loved every bit of it.
Thank you so much for putting up with us .You are awesome! 🙂
Ananda & Hans, volunteers from Germany, 2011
Me and my boyfriend had an amazing time here! After a month on the farm I didn’t even wanted to go back home again. Work, fun and free time are well balanced. Lovely people who make you feel very much at home. If you’re experienced with horses you get to do a lot of fun things with the horses. Working with the Skyrian horses is great. They are more friendly, intelligent and fun to work with. The riding pony’s are also lovely and it was fantastic to ride them. If you’re not into horses there’s also enough to do. My boyfriend had a great time and he is not experienced with horses or anything.
The farm is also a great place to find some peace of mind. Being with animals in a natural environment is a great experience, especially when you normally live in the city.
I would recommend everbody to go and volunteer with this fantastic people. I’m definitely coming back there next year!
Monica Olsen, volunteer from the USA, 2010
I stayed on the farm for about 5 or 6 weeks in November and December 2010. Skyros and the project was a true experience to me. The island itself is beautiful and a complete world unto its own. The farm and its inhabitants are continously growing and changing and there is always something new going on and opportunities to learn something new everyday. The ponies have HUGE and wonderful personalities. This project revolves around the Skyrian horse but Amanda and Stathi also donate their time and experience to other animals in need of their help. It was hard not to fall in love with the island and the farm, I am looking forward to the day when I can return.
I hope you are finding lovely homes for all your new babies!! And I’m serious, I swear I’ll be back to Skyros one day.
Fanny Fouris, volunteer from France, 2011
So, I’m from France and I stayed one month and a half at the farm March and april 2011,and everything surprised me there.It’s totally another world,another way of life,that you can’t imagine without seeing it. The ponies are lovely (especially Norman!) and the island is beautiful.The project is great,as it is done by people who really care about the ponies.That was a amazing life experience,so far away from the society I was used to.
Genrys Goodchild, volunteer from Canada, 2009
I volunteered for Amanda and Stathis back in 2009 with my friend from Australia. We stayed on the farm for just over two months during the summer. My volunteer experience with Amanda and Stathis was an incredible learning experience, not only teaching me about Greek culture and the Skyrian horse project, but also about my own personality, strengths and weaknesses of my own self, and for that I’m also extremely grateful.
My time is Greece was spent taking care of the horses, all of whom were adorable and had definite personalities of their own (especially Norman and Theadora, that’s for sure!). We did riding and training, as well as chores around the farm. We ate incredible food, most of which was local, and got to meet and have dinners with different farmers in the area. It was so fun and amazing to meet different types of people I would never get to interact with back home. The farm is beautiful (and near the ocean!), the island is beautiful, and the people are interesting and friendly, especially Amanda and Stathis themselves.
One of the best parts of volunteering for Amanda and Stathis was seeing how their work on the farm not only helps our the horses, but the people of Skyros too. Kids get to come and learn about horses, and this helps the community as a whole, and this was really special to witness. If you volunteer for Amanda and Stathis you will be sure to have an interesting and rewarding experience!
Bella Schlachter, volunteer from Australia, 2009
I stayed with Amanda and Stathi for a few weeks in the (northern) summer of ’09. I have wonderful memories from my time on the farm. I was blown away by the selflessness and dedication that Amanda and Stathi had for the project. Skyros is a beautiful island with a rich history which the ponies are inextricably linked to and the work that Amanda and Stathi are doing is so important to both the cultural and natural heritage of the island. The ponies themselves are truly ‘little horses’, they are exquisite creatures with kind natures and the most wonderful personalities! My time on the farm also gave me an insight into greek culture and the daily lives of those living and working on the island that could never be gained by simply travelling through. Amongst Amanda’s friends and neighbours I met so many inspiring people and brilliant characters, it was a true immersion and an experience I wont be forgetting in a hurry. Cant wait to go back to visit old friends and meet the new additions!!
Elina Anthinpoulo, volunteer from Greece, 2010
I stayed in Stathis and Amanda’s farm in the summer of 2010 for 2 wonderful months. I experienced their love and care for animals, in fact words cannot express the family like environment…
I had the chance to see the births of foals, more play and hug the ponies, the cats and the dogs and feed the chicken…
Amanda is still a great friend, no she’s my big sister now! We still talk and I do look forward on going back one day!
Thanks Amanda, for a great experience!
Alex Ardelean, volunteer from Romania, 2010
I helped Amanda and Stathis during the month of July 2010, learning from them and assisting them in all the jobs required by their very generous project. Their dedication and passion for the Skyryan ponies is contagious and inspiring.
Skyros Island has some hidden gems (secluded beaches with romantic ship wrecks, rough mountains where the goats are the only inhabitants, little chapels lost in the pine forest) which for sure will please any soul looking for a corner of Paradise.
Thank you, dear friends, for your patience and hospitability.
Thank you for the opportunity you have offered to me, to be again in such a close contact with the nature and with these amazing creatures, the beautiful horses.
Edith Maisonneuve, volunteer from Québec, Canada, 2010
Pour tous les francophones qui aimeraient vivre ce projet avec Amanda et Stathis, voici un petit mot sur mon expérience. J’ai passé 4 semaines à Skyros au mois de juin 2010. En résumé, une belle expérience, des gens passionnés, des chevaux attachants, un coin de pays à découvrir, un travail concret et gratifiant. J’ai été accueillie comme une amie chez Amanda et Stathis, ils m’ont permis de m’installer parmis eux pour quelques semaines et de prendre part à la vie de la ferme. Cette expérience m’a permis de donner le meilleur de moi-même, d’apprendre à connaître la culture grecque et de partager de beaux moments avec les chevaux, les animaux et tous les gens de passage à la ferme! Un projet d’amour et de passion où l’on s’investi sans compter les heures et qui m’inspire encore…malgré la distance qui nous sépare! En espérant un jour revoir Skyros! Bonne chance!