Therapeutic Riding volunteers?
   

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Therapeutic Riding volunteers?

This is a discussion on Therapeutic Riding volunteers? within the Therapeutic Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category
  • Why i love being a therapeutic riding volunteer
  • Therapuetic horseback riding volunteer training

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    02-18-2013, 08:02 PM
  #1
Foal
Therapeutic Riding volunteers?

I was invited by a facebookfriend to the informationday of a therapeutic riding program here in my city. The information day will be directed at 'future' volunteers, and since I was bummed last year that I had missed the volunteer introduction course I definitely want to go this time around!

However, I know next to nothing about therapeutic riding, and was wondering what I might expect of being a volunteer. Here's what I know about the program:

It is spread over two locations, with a total of 100+ clients. The volunteers are expected to complete an introduction course, and then come at least one afternoon a week to help out.

What would 'helping out' entail? Would it be mainly interaction with the clients? No interaction with the clients? Leading the horses around? Or also things like grooming, tacking up, mucking out etc?

If any of you have volunteered at such organizations please share your experiences here! I am looking to learn as much as I can before the official information day!
     
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    02-18-2013, 08:35 PM
  #2
Teen Forum Moderator
Good on you for wanting to help out! I absolutely ADORE working at our therapeudic facility, and have been doing so for almost five years.

You will very likely be working directly with clients at least a few times a month, and you will probably find that they are wonderful to be around. You will most likely begin by helping with more mundane tasks such as side walking or mucking, but as you become more experienced it is very possible that you will move up to begin leading the horses yourself, catching them (if pastured), turning them out, grooming, tacking up, hosing down, etc. I pretty much run our program at our farm and I have jobs such as helping with small first aid things, feeding, blanketing, and dealing with problems as well. It really just depends on the farm and what your 'position is.'

Good luck! If you're anything like me, you'll love volunteering and you'll find that the therapy that you supply can actually be great 'therapy' for you as well!
stingerscricket likes this.
     
    02-18-2013, 08:42 PM
  #3
Foal
I volunteer at Equine Assisted Therapy near my house and love it too! At this center, when you start out you work mainly as a sidewalker that spots the rider, hold over the thigh or just ankles for support, help with excercises and games like "ring toss" on horseback and help them hold the reins, tap the hand they need to pull to steer etc. Then you can go to another training day with the horses. After that you work as a leader of the horse and get there before class starts to catch, groom, and tack up your horse. Good luck, I'm sure you will love it as well :)
     
    02-18-2013, 08:52 PM
  #4
Foal
I'm sure you'll have a great experience volunteering! I started volunteering nearly 8 years ago and I love it. Every center is different, of course, but I'll tell you what volunteering entails at the center I work at.

Our volunteers usually come and shadow for a couple of hours before they start volunteering regularly. During their shadowing, they're put with an experienced volunteer who explains the purposes of and differences between hippotherapy and therapeutic riding. The experienced volunteer also explains our safety procedures, such as emergency dismounts.

Usually, the new volunteer starts off as a side walker, where they work opposite a therapist and interact with the rider. They are responsible for following the therapists instructions for keeping the rider in the correct position, among other things. Sometimes, when we have new volunteers that are horse people, we start them out leading one of our easier horses. Then, they'll walk alongside an experienced volunteer, who will explain how we lead and interact with our horses. They'll also introduce the new volunteer to that horse in particular. Then, the new volunteer will lead while the experienced volunteer walks alongside and gives pointers. Everyone who leads goes through this process with each horse- all of the horses are different, so learning to lead one doesn't mean you can lead any of them.

We rarely have volunteers muck paddocks- the directors do that in the morning before sessions most days. Once our volunteers are familiar with the horses and the tack we use, they'll catch them for sessions and get them ready.

I don't know what the center you'll be volunteering at will be like, but they'll explain everything! As someone who trains a ton of new volunteers, my best advice for you is to listen and ask questions when you're unsure. I always love training new volunteers who ask a lot of questions- I know they really want to get everything right and are going to try really hard. I also love volunteers who are horse people who don't act like they know what to do because they have horse experience. The horses at our center are different from other horses you may have had contact with.

Good luck; I'm sure it'll be great and you'll enjoy the experience!
     
    02-18-2013, 09:01 PM
  #5
Foal
Thanks everyone for the replies! I'm really wanting to do this more and more reading all your great experiences :) Another question: would a slight language barrier be a big problem? I am not originally from Argentina, and although I am pretty much fluent in Spanish now, there will be terms and expressions I'm not familiar with at times.. would this be a reason for them to turn me down as a potential volunteer? I know they have quite a lot of people asking to volunteer there, so I'm not certain they will accept everyone.
     
    02-18-2013, 09:16 PM
  #6
Showing
They don't expect any experience from volunteers, but appreciate any help you offer! You could do anything from watching the clients to make sure they are safe at all times to "sidewalking" (basically your hands on the client as they are on a horse.. can be tiring but VERY good for your fitness!) or leading the horse.. or grooming the horses, or even fetching water and such for those working.

Go for it!
     
    02-18-2013, 09:22 PM
  #7
Green Broke
Volunteering is wonderful and rewarding!

Our volunteers usually do mostly side walking and leading (with training and experience) lessons.

Then they also do barn chores like tack cleaning, mucking, and other barn tasks. Could be laundry, blanket folding, de cobwebbing, sweeping and other odd jobs.

As for horse handling we try to keep really hangs on stuff, like tacking and grooming, to a minimum. Our horses got really sore with all the hands on them and people doing things their way. It just wasn't fair for them. But they are allowed to graze them (sometimes I send them with a brush), turn in/out, and groom our mini horses and donkeys.

They really play a vital role in any organization! We couldn't do it with out them. I know I get more out of being there then my barn gets from me!
Skyseternalangel likes this.
     
    02-18-2013, 09:23 PM
  #8
Green Broke
Volunteering is wonderful and rewarding!

Our volunteers usually do mostly side walking and leading (with training and experience) lessons.

Then they also do barn chores like tack cleaning, mucking, and other barn tasks. Could be laundry, blanket folding, de cobwebbing, sweeping and other odd jobs.

As for horse handling we try to keep really hangs on stuff, like tacking and grooming, to a minimum. Our horses got really sore with all the hands on them and people doing things their way. It just wasn't fair for them. But they are allowed to graze them (sometimes I send them with a brush), turn in/out, and groom our mini horses and donkeys.

They really play a vital role in any organization! We couldn't do it with out them. I know I get more out of being there then my barn gets from me!
     
    02-19-2013, 09:01 AM
  #9
Weanling
Luce73 in my experience, I don't think they would turn away a volunteer for a slight language barrier. In fact, I think they will just appreciate as many volunteers as they can get regardless. It sounds like you know the language pretty well and you will pick up more.
At my barn, we have three different trainings - initiation, which is just showing you around the farm and how different things work, sidewalker training (which is often coupled with initiation) and leader training.
When I first started volunteering, I just sidewalked for about 6 months (and that was due to a lack of confidence on my part more than anything). Now, I catch horses, groom, tack, lead, do barn chores, everything.
I'm not sure how things will be run at your barn, but if you have previous horse experience, chances are they'll want you to lead and do stuff with the horses, and if you don't, you'll work up to it.
Best wishes!
HorseCrazyTeen likes this.
     

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