About to begin volunteering at a therapeutic riding stable! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 56 Old 12-20-2011, 09:49 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: East Coast of USA
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About to begin volunteering at a therapeutic riding stable!

Hi ladies and gentlemen! I just found this forum a few hours ago and since then I've been engrossed in reading and viewing pics and videos. I don't own a horse but I had a lot of experience with them when I was a teenager. I'm 49 now and I just heard of a place where they do therapeutic riding with handicapped individuals and it's very close to home!

I went to the Equine Care Workshop and this Friday I will be going to my first "barn orientation." I believe after that I can start to volunteer! I can hardly wait!

Does anyone have any tips to offer someone like me who has ancient horse experience but nothing lately? I mean, I went on a one-hour trail ride right before Thanksgiving, but that was "pay by the hour" and it was hardly stimulating. But it did wet my appetite for more, and that's how I found this new gig!

I hope to get to know you and to learn much from you. Once I get busy at the farm (they call it a farm. They have six horses, two goats and a few bunnies), I will post some pics of their animals and me working with them. (That will come later.)

Wish me luck! One thing I could really use is advice on how to cool my jets, so to speak. I am so EXCITED and I don't want to start off on the wrong foot. How can I center myself so that when the animals are exposed to me, I don't get a bad rep?
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post #2 of 56 Old 12-20-2011, 10:16 PM
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Ontario, Canada
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Therapeutic riding barns are amazing places. I've volunteered at several over the past couple years and love it. If your worried about being to excited then just take a little time to relax once you get there and take your time when dealing with the animals. Chatting with the animals and people usually calms me down if I get nervous/excited. Have fun and good luck!!
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post #3 of 56 Old 12-20-2011, 10:28 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you! I feel very blessed + grateful to be able to get involved in such a worthy endeavor.
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post #4 of 56 Old 12-20-2011, 10:48 PM
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I love your jets! Why would you want to cool such authentic enthusiasum? Things have a way of cooling that kind of energy down on their own, so don't hasten the process on purpose!
I am so glad you found our little community! WE are a great bunch and not everyone here owns a horse or has the opportunity to ride much. But, that is not required to be a member.
It will be fun to hear about your experiences there.
As for advice? We'll, just be a really good listener! listen twice as much as you talk. Everyone loves a good listener!
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post #5 of 56 Old 12-20-2011, 11:06 PM
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As a volunteer myself, I will add that the most important training I got was by being paired with a seasoned volunteer. I asked her to give me feedback and it was invaluable. I also learned that some of the therapists and instructors have very strict opinions about whether the leaders/sidewalkers should be talking to the students. Sometimes it's really important to help calm down the timid students; sometimes it's distracting (especially the autistic or ADHD kids) and pulls their attention away from the therapist which isn't desirable. Just ask and as others have said, listen and observe!

You will be so blessed by this experience....
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post #6 of 56 Old 12-21-2011, 01:20 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you so much, ladies. Good advice and I will keep those things in mind. I do tend to talk too much. I noticed when we did the equine care workshop, whenever the instructors would ask who wanted to (fill in the blank,) I immediately said, "I will!" I know most people just sit back and hope not to be picked for something but I also know that I want to learn. Still, I don't think that is going to win me many friends.

I will listen! I will try not to be so ready to volunteer to do something in a group. I will wait at least 5 seconds to give someone else a chance to say "I will!"

I think they do pair people up with a seasoned volunteer. The first day I went, the woman gave me paperwork to complete and to return at the workshop, and she gave me a basic overview of how they work. Newbies come in and they learn, then as they become more seasoned, they take on the role of teacher!

I don't see how I stand to do anything but "gain" in this experience. They only do the therapeutic riding in the Spring, Summer and Fall, but they are trying to get the funds to put a roof over their corral so they can also do sessions in the winter.

They said that people tend to pick one of their six horses and work more exclusively with it more than the others. I don't want to rush into making that decision. I want to get a feel for each horse and see which one may be more responsive to me. Maybe I'll let the horse do the picking. ;)

In the meantime, I'm going to have to find clothes that are suitable for dressing in layers (the seasoned folks were all in about 6 layers of clothes) and I'll need to buy some rain gear. We're having a mild winter (Yea!) so it will be more rain than snow, by the looks of it.

I'm so excited and I will keep my jets burning! I know what you mean. The newness will wear off and the drudgery of barn duties in the rain and cold will take some of my "fire" away. I'll just let them burn for now, while there is still fuel!

I know this section of the forum is for introductions. Would it be okay to keep posting here about my experiences at the farm or should I start another thread in a more appropriate area? After all, I won't be a newbie for long!
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post #7 of 56 Old 12-21-2011, 04:54 PM
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Location: Surrey BC
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I went riding last July for the first time in a very long time
I first groomed the horse and picked out his feet
I then saddled him and I surprised mt husband that I could
lift the saddle and cinch it up
I then put the bridle on
Then I got on and started riding an it a ll came
back to me

Now after moving I would like to start riding again

Country Woman

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post #8 of 56 Old 12-21-2011, 05:17 PM
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Location: nj
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learn from the person who knows the horses best.
have fun
and remember to look at the child/adults face who has just conquered a great experience in there life :) the smile will speak 1000 words
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post #9 of 56 Old 12-21-2011, 05:52 PM Thread Starter
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Location: East Coast of USA
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Country Woman, if I can find a place like this only 3.25 miles from my home, I'll bet there are places like this near you, too. I asked a random question on an online forum and I got a number of responses regarding this facility. At first it didn't appeal to me because I wasn't looking to be a volunteer, but the more I looked into it, the more I realized this was tailor-made for me.

Kait, AMEN! I'm a disabled nurse so this is going to scratch a lot of itches. Serendipity City!
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post #10 of 56 Old 12-22-2011, 12:11 AM
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Missouri
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Some hints - in your 6 layers of clothes you can pack away.....kleenex for kids' runny noses, and spare gloves (the stretchy one size fits all kind) because those little fingers get mighty cold when moms and dads forget to bring mittens or gloves... In the summer, carry spare ponytail scrunchies for the kids and more kleenex for snot and sweat, and something like a bandana for you to wipe your sweaty brow!

And, on at least one day in each session, pack a camera so that at the end of the session you can have someone take a picture of you with your student and horse!
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