Equine-Assisted Therapy would not exist if it were not for our volunteers. In a typical week, over 150 volunteers walk through our doors for various reasons. Each act of kindness within this program, no matter how small, creates a ripple effect that is felt for generations. Many of our volunteers admit that they came here originally to help the children in our program but were surprised with how therapeutic it was for them as well. It’s a beautiful sight to watch a child progress from having to be physically held up to ride to riding on their own. Or to work with a child that won’t speak and slowly coax one word, then two and then have them initiate a conversation with you. It touches your heart in a way that is beyond words.
Available volunteer positions: (You must be 14 years old to volunteer as a sidewalker or leader.)
Leaders – the main responsibility of the leader is the control of the horse during a lesson. The leader should not interact with the rider and should keep their focus on the horse. It is the leader who must help in guiding, stopping and starting the horse in a way that assists the rider but doesn’t hinder their learning. Leaders must be able to walk a fast pace and jog intermittently during the lesson. Leaders must go through special training to learn how to work with therapy horses, as they are not your typical trail horse and require special cues and handling. You must also be willing to continue your education beyond the initial training and work with our Equine Specialist to make sure that you are consistent with the program’s policies regarding the equines. You must be a regular sidewalker for at least a session of 7 weeks before you can apply for our leader program.
Sidewalkers – the main responsibility of a sidewalker is to insure the safety of the rider. Sidewalkers should not interact with the horse and should keep their focus on the rider. During a lesson, the sidewalker walks to the side of the rider with one arm over the rider’s thigh or with a hand on the rider’s ankle. The degree of assistance from the sidewalker will depend on the need of the rider. It is the sidewalker that assists the rider in activities. Sidewalkers must be able to walk at a fast pace, jog intermittently during the lesson, have good listening skills and have a willingness to learn.
Barn Buddies – the main responsibilities of a barn buddy is the feeding and care of the equines. Barn buddies feed, water and medicate the horses, clean stalls and report any health concerns to the Program Facilitator. Because of responsibilities, barn buddies must be able to lift at least 50 pounds, be reliable, have confidence (a hungry 1100 pound animal can be intimidating) and have a willingness to learn. If you are under 18, a parent must be trained as well. If you are under 16, a parent must be present while you’re on site. Due to insurance restrictions, barn buddies are not allowed to exercise/ride the horses.
We also need help with special events, facility maintenance, gardening and activity planning. To help in these areas, please contact email@example.com