Volunteering

THANK YOU FOR YOUR INTEREST IN VOLUNTEERING WITH US!

Stable Pathways operates because of the dedication of many volunteers!

  =:__8)

We welcome enthusiastic, dependable volunteers, 15 years old and up, to participate in our therapeutic riding program. You don’t need to know anything about horses or people living with disabilities to be part of our team – we will train you. Volunteer dependability and common sense are important facets of our program. If you volunteer, we request you make the commitment and attend each week; our riders depend on you!

We will also have COVID-19 protocols in place and require volunteers sign a personal responsibility document in this regard. We can’t always distance ourselves from our riders, so volunteers must not attend if they feel sick, have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, or thinks they may have been. We will follow CDC guidelines to the best of our ability.

Classes take place in an arena or walking out on the trail, which may include walking on uneven footing for a couple of hours. And plan on getting dirty. The work may also include using your arms above shoulder height. It may be hot or it may be cold. Yeah, weather is a thing!

Volunteers are needed one-half hour before lessons begin and one-half hour after they end. You may come up to one hour before lessons if you wish to be involved in grooming horses and getting them ready – that is a really neat, hands-on horse time.  If you will miss more than one week in any season of lessons, please consider a different volunteering time. If you are in high school, think carefully about your school activities and commitments before you come out. Volunteers do need to find their own substitute if they need to be out and to be available to sub for another; we’ll provide you with information to do so.

This is what we look for in our volunteers … someone who:

    • is dependable and able to make the commitment
    • has reliable means of transportation
    • enjoys working with people with disabilities (or wants to learn!)
    • works cooperatively with all personality types
    • accepts full responsibility for any task undertaken and follows through to completion
    • is able to work around horses (or wants to learn!)
    • is in health suitable for working outside, arms overhead, and walking on uneven terrain
    • will follow instructions and help riders relate to directions
    • attends volunteer training and accepts on-the-job training
    • checks their schedule and finds a replacement if they must be out
    • assists in grooming and tacking horses before and untacks and grooms horses after lessons, if they want to – this is not a requirement
    • greets students and families and helps them prepare for the lesson, while conscious of COVID-19 protocols
    • assists in setting up and cleaning up all areas after lessons

  =:__8)

And we’d like you to have fun volunteering with us!
There are two primary ways our volunteers serve: Sidewalker or Horse Leader. Both of them are hands-on!

Sidewalker – Even if you don’t have experience with disabilities, you can be a sidewalker – but don’t worry! New sidewalkers will always be paired with an experienced sidewalker to learn the ropes. They’ll also help you gain an understanding of the principles of therapeutic riding. It’s about paying attention: how is your rider feeling? How are they riding? You are walking alongside to see to their safety, to help them feel calm, and encourage them to participate in the activities as directed by the instructor. Your first priority should always be the rider. Conversations should be kept to a minimum and always for the benefit of the rider. Never pick up any object that has fallen; it’s safer to leave it there. It is okay for riders to miss or make a mistake; trying is how they become successful! Give the rider plenty of time to perform independently, ensuring he/she understands the instructor. If you are uncomfortable for any reason or you think something is “off” with your student or horse, tell the instructor immediately – you are the first person to become aware of a potential problem!

Horse Leader – If you are an experienced horse person and are familiar with therapeutic riding lessons, you may be a horse leader. Your job is to see to the behavior and emotional condition of the horse during the lesson. Horse leading in a therapeutic riding setting is much different than a farm environment … plus, we horse owners sometimes allow things from our own horses that are not acceptable in lessons! Even though you know horses, we will require you undergo training for this special job. The horses are trained to respond to special verbal commands and body language; and each horse is different in how they respond to a leader when there’s a rider. You will have to know what’s going on everywhere, but you do not verbally interact with the rider during his/her lesson. These are not pony rides! Wait for the rider to give the commands to the horse. Never pick up any object or help the rider when you are in the leader position – the leader’s responsibility is only with the horse. All potential horse leaders must be approved by the instructor and director.

If you don’t know anything about horses and would like to learn, we will be happy to help you along! Many of us had no horse experience before volunteering in a therapeutic riding environment – it’s a great way to learn.

Wondering what to wear? Comfortable shoes – tennis shoes, running shoes, and hiking or paddock boots are preferred. NO sandals or open-toed shoes. Remember to wear weather-appropriate clothing – layers including t-shirt, sweatshirt, or jacket. Dress modestly – no short-shorts or low cut shirts. Please do not wear heavy perfumes or soaps; our riders with sensory issues can be quite sensitive to those. (So can volunteers and horses!) Remember sunglasses, sunscreen, bug repellent. We usually have water available, but you may want to bring your own water bottle.

How will you fit in?

   =:__8)

Mandatory training is required prior to serving in our program. The training is held at the farm, please dress appropriately for weather and hands-on horses. We’ll notify you with the date; if you are unable to attend, let us know and we will figure it out. We also have many days in March for hands-on horse work, before the riders join us for lessons. You will be invited to participate in this, dates TBD.

Volunteers must be willing to undergo a background check.

 =:__8)

We’d love to have you!
If you’re wanting to know more about volunteering, please email us at office@stablepathways.org; tell us a little about yourself! You are also welcome to call or text (952) 222-8106.

Thanks so much! We appreciate your interest and look forward to hearing from you.