I've just signed up to start volunteering at a local organization that helps disabled children and adults through equine assisted therapy. I'm not sure what they'll want me to do to start, but I'm ready for just about anything. :)
What kind of work does your equine assisted therapy group do?
I volunteer at a theraputic riding centre here is south western Ontario called SARI; I help out with the lessons by either leading the horses or lending support by being a side walker; in the summer time, there is a day camp that the organization runs and part of the activities offered are riding lessons, which are all in the morning; I volunteer at the camp and help out with these lessons, too; I first started volunteering because I wanted to work with the horses, which I do, but as you start helping out with the same lessons each week, you start to get involved with the children and young people who are learning to ride; you quickly become very interested in the progress that they are making; like most volunteer positions, the rewards are great for not too much of a time committment; not only do I enjoy the interaction with horses and kids, but I get a great workout, too, trotting around the arena! It's a lot cheaper than a gym membership, and I'm not the only one benefiting; how great is that?
Anyway, at SARI there are lots of opportunities to learn new things, too; you can learn leadership skills, and also take training in horse training and eventually work up to becoming an instructor yourself. There are volunteers of all ages at SARI and you can volunteer as much or as little time as you can spare; I've met some great people and horses; I look forward to my time at SARI each week, especially the smiling, laughing, giggling faces of the riders; having fun helping others; what a wonderful idea!
Colleen, a co-Director of Special Horses Inc., runs Borrowed Freedom Equine Therapy in Endicott NY. While they have horses able to give lessons, they also have equines (2 minis, and a mule) that offer on-the-ground activities as well.
My name is Colleen Cheechalk and I am the Director and Co-Founder of Borrowed Freedom Equine Therapies and Activities, Inc. We are located in the Southern Tier of NY.
We have a farm based program that focuses on the many learning (Equine Facilitated Learning or EFL) opportunities, in addition to the therapeutic and health benefits that horses offer us. We work directly with the participants care team to design and deliver a goal oriented program that enhances the whole person...not just one specific area of improvement. We also integrate other areas of agriculture such as horticulture, poultry, waterfowl and of course...we ride! Our program provides services at no charge whenever possible.
There are a few things we look for in a good volunteer.
Free flowing laughter
...and the ability to know it is ok to be overcome with emotion sometimes...our participants do some pretty amazing things!!!
The most important part is listening and the ability to follow directions, and if possible, to be able to become a long term volunteer...no matter how much time each week or month that includes.
I have to chuckle at Cathy....it IS a good work out isn't it?!?!?!?
He's incredibly intelligent, and if it makes sense to him, he will do everything for you. I love the smarts and the sensitivity. Mine is a Bold Ruler descendant, and apparently they share similar characteristics.
I run a therapeutic riding program called Giddyup! in Stouffville, Ontario.
I also offer equine-based leadership programs; The Lead Horse provides workshops for individuals, professionals and corporations and THINK Like a Horse provides leadership education for school groups and youth at risk.
You need the same leadership skills to lead horses that you do to lead people. Communication skills (especially non-verbal) empathy, focus, intent, ability to set boundaries etc. In the workshops people engage in a series of leading activities with their horses They don't ride). We interpret the horses' behaviours for them and make analogies back to the human world. Gives everyone a pretty clear picture of their behaviour patterns and helps them strengthen their existing skills. There is more of an explanation on our website - http://www.theleadhorse.com