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The main responsibility of the leader is to control the mount, but he/she must also constantly be aware of the rider, therapist/instructor, and any potential hazards in or around the arena. In addition, he/she must also consider the sidewalkers, making sure there is enough room along the fence and around obstacles for them to pass. He/she must be trained in emergency procedures, depending on the situation and specifically on the physical and emotional restrictions of the client/rider.
One of the most important single phases of a therapeutic riding program is the mounting/dismounting procedure. Though relatively simple for the agile, non-handicapped rider, mounting and dismounting for the rider with disabilities is many times complex. The mounting and dismounting procedures used will depend on the handicapping condition, weight of the rider, assistive devices such as wheelchairs, crutches, walkers, or canes.
Mount & Dismount Volunteers
Volunteers can perform a variety of barn chores that are essential to the smooth operation of the program. Mucking, sweeping, cleaning tack, washing horses, stripping stalls, and spreading manure, while not glamorous, must still be done regularly
Horses must be groomed and tacked or untacked before and after each class.
Grooming & Tacking
Volunteers can help with a variety of maintenance, cleaning, and grounds keeping duties. The lawn must be cut, fences mended, buildings painted, plumbing fixed, arena dragged, activity stations built, props designed, lighting replaced, leaves raked, drive leveled, holes filled, hallways and porches swept, and bathrooms cleaned, to name a few.
Volunteers can donate their professional services in areas such as photography, gardening, architectural design, electrical wiring, public relations, videography, plumbing, painting, landscaping, grant writing, budget and finance, and stable management. Please see 'Miscellaneous Opportunities' section for additional information.
Sidewalkers are volunteers whose primary responsibility is to ensure the safety of the rider. The degree of assistance from the sidewalker will depend on the balance of the rider and the recommendation of the therapist/instructor.
The spotter performs an essential safety role when assisting the instructor in mounting riders.
Each of our horses is on a feeding program that is based on nutritional needs. While our horses have free access to hay, they must be brought in for supplemental feed. Water must also be checked.
Volunteers may also be responsible for providing direct assistance in the classroom. This might include supervising and/or working with students who are waiting to ride, helping students get helmets and belts on, and leading riders out to the horses. They may also supervise “horsy” classroom projects such as coloring, learning the parts of a horse and saddle, or answering horse related questions. It is also beneficial and sometimes crucial for students to stretch prior to riding. Volunteers who are familiar with rider disabilities may be trained to help with this task.
Schooling riders are competent equestrians chosen by the HHTR staff to school and exercise the horses/ponies. Schooling riders work to maintain the horses’/ponies’ fitness, obedience, responsiveness, and to correct behavior problems.
Volunteers can perform many administrative tasks, such as helping with new volunteer recruitment, writing articles for our newsletter, fundraising, filing, faxing, making copies,and answering the telephone.