Volunteer Opportunities

  • A peer rider must be 6 years old or older, and accompanied by a parent/volunteer.
  • horse leader needs experience with horses, and must be 15 years of age or older.
  • A side walker must be 15 years of age or older.  If a rider is more independent, then a spotter would be used.
  • If clinically trained, a volunteer can serve on our medical committee.  The medical committee helps with initial assessments of new riders.
  • Schooling/exercising horses needs to be done by experienced riders.
  • Tack cleaning and repair
  • Cleaning stalls
  • Preparing newsletter for volunteers, riders, donors, etc.
  • Rider recruitment (If you know of anyone who could benefit from our program, please tell them about us.)
  • Volunteer recruitment
  • Grant writing
  • Fund raising
  • Carpentry to work on equipment and facilities for riding program
  • Assist in volunteer training
  • Clean/organize tack room
  • Water down arena before lessons
  • Help fit saddles to horses
  • Groom horses
  • Tack up horses (must show proficiency to Executive Director to be able to put on saddle & bridle)
  • Get equipment out and put it away after the lesson
  • Feed horses
  • Assist with special events and work days
  • Assist with web site design/maintenance

If you see something that needs to be done, please do it or if you are not sure about it, just ask if it is OK to do.  There are always things that need to be done and not enough time to do it all.  We are a team working together to provide a safe, fun, beneficial activity for our riders.

Volunteer training session

The Riding Lesson Team

The team always includes a PATH Intl. certified instructor, the horse, and the rider.  Additional team members are often needed such as a horse leader, one or two sidewalkers, spotters, and/or possibly a therapy consultant.  A peer rider can be very helpful, particularly with a rider who could benefit from having the social contact or with a rider who is a visual learner.

The instructor must have knowledge of the various disabilities of the riders with whom the center works.  She may request input from a therapy consultant regarding a rider.  The instructor sees that the objectives of each rider’s lesson are developed and are attempted to be met.  She is in charge of the riding lesson and coordinates the riding team.  She needs to have the ability to teach riding skills, is knowledgeable of horsemanship, and is informed of PATH Intl. (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International) current standards.

The horse leader has had experience with horses and is comfortable in dealing with them.  This person understands the nature of the horse and can control it during unusual circumstances.  This person should receive training, including knowledge of what to do in an emergency situation.  A horse leader must be able to walk with intermittent jogging for up to a 45 minute period of time.

The sidewalker walks beside the horse and the rider.  This person helps with the safety of the rider or helps the rider carry out the instructions given by the instructor.  There may be one or two sidewalkers for a rider.  Two sidewalkers could be indicated for a rider who has poor balance, is small in stature, or is insecure (i.e., needs the extra confidence provided by having a person on both sides).  Sidewalkers need to feel comfortable walking next to a horse and to be knowledgeable about the rider’s disability.  A sidewalker must be able to walk with intermittent jogging for up to a 45 minute period of time.

A peer rider rides a horse during a lesson with a client.  The peer rider is often used if we have a client who needs to work on their social skills.  The peer rider MUST be well behaved as they are to be an example to the other rider.  A parent must work as a volunteer (or have a volunteer work in their place), and stay with the peer rider throughout the lesson.  The responsibility of having a parent/volunteer present for a peer rider rests with the parent of the peer rider.  As a junior volunteer, peer riders can assist in getting things ready for a lesson, cleanup, and horse care also.

A spotter is used when the rider has advanced to more independent riding.  Spotters would be located at strategic points in the arena to be ready to assist if riders get into a problem with their horse.

Communication is the link that ties the team together.  Each member of the team needs to understand his/her own role and how it fits together with the roles of other team members.  The team members need to be able to communicate openly with the instructor and with other teammates.  Be sure to express your concerns and/or needs.  You need to feel good about the job you are doing, challenged but not overwhelmed, and enjoy the association of the group.

Each volunteer receives a Volunteer Handbook and undergoes training so they can have a better understanding of their job.  Not all volunteer jobs require prior horse experience.




therapeutic riding program for persons with disabilities