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Anyone work/volunteer at handicapped riding programs?

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  • Anyone work/volunteer at handicapped riding programs?

    Just curious. I was mulling over doing this, and don't think I've ever seen it mentioned here.

  • #2
    I am a NARHA certified instructor and I cant urge you enought to get involved. The emotional payback is huge! Both for your interaction with some of the best horses I have met and with the students and their progress and a whole gang of really neat people. Go for it. Check out the link to find a certified center near you!

    http://www.narha.org/Centers/FindCenter2.asp
    www.headsupspecialriders.com

    Comment


    • #3
      If you search for Therapeutic Riding and Hippotherapy here you'll find lots of info.

      We volunteer, and we have a small program here at my farm and are in the process of building our new program that focuses on therapeutic horsemanship and are establishing a horsemanship /education program for therapists.

      Programs vary widely, I would suggest visiting a couple and spending a few weeks to decide if the program is right for you.
      I Loff My Quarter Horse & I love Fenway Bartholomule cliques

      Just somebody with a positive outlook on life...go ahead...hate me for that.

      Comment


      • #4
        You will -be appreciated and be rewarded !!

        Wonderful programs - Wonderful way to volunteer!!!! I have been a volunteer in two programs - two different cities - highly recommend this idea for you - you will be muchly appreciated and gleam rewards yourself. Can not say enough good things about these programs and their leaders!!!!!!!!
        Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "

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        • #5
          I have a friend who volunteers with Pegasus Therapuetic Riding and loves it! I also have a friend whose daughter is a participant and they praise the program up and down. I'd definitely check it out if you have an interest.

          Comment


          • #6
            I've volunteered with CKRH in KY and it really is amazing. I'd just recommend checking the NARHA site and volunteering at a NARHA-approved facility. There are some folks out there who do their own "therapeutic riding" centers and many of them have no training and don't have the appropriate equipment or horses.
            www.kentuckysidesaddle.com

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            • #7
              I have been volunteering with TR programs for the past fourteen years, and there's never a day I don't 110% enjoy it. It is SO rewarding, and the riders are ALL memorable.

              It also really puts your life into perspective, too. An accomplishment that we would consider small (or go by unnoticed) for us...can be HUGE for TR riders.

              Comment


              • #8
                I volunteered for years at two local programs before I went to college. It is very rewarding, and tons of fun. I would definetly encourage you to go help out, whether with the horse car aspect or as a aide, side walker or leader. You do need to pay attention to the rider and the instructor, harder then it looks. I prefer places that have more of an equestrian emphasis then the pony rides emphasis, but each has benefits for riders. I had the best experiences with the adult riders.
                Do not take anything to heart. Do not hanker after signs of progress. Founder of the Riders with Fibromyalgia clique.

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                • #9
                  I volunteered with a therapeutic riding program for several years before I went off to college, and tried to get back into it this year, but the scheduling of lessons conflicted with my job. Another thing that made me less enthusiastic about this particular program was the new, very disorganized instructor. However there is anther program nearby that I would love to work with, they are very professional and have it all together. Just waiting for my schedule to open up a bit so that I can dedicate my time to the program fully.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Penthilisea View Post
                    I prefer places that have more of an equestrian emphasis then the pony rides emphasis, but each has benefits for riders. I had the best experiences with the adult riders.
                    This is a huge issue for me. Several programs I looked into working with did the pony ride bit. While this is still fun, it is a huge disservice to the majority of the riders. Just because they have special needs doesn't mean that many cannot enjoy or LEARN to become competent riders and horse people. One of the reasons I have not pursued NARHA certification is because the centers closest to me are pony ride, don't let their bottoms get dirty places. Sorry...but that is money I can invest into my own program. While NARHA is wonderful, it should not be the only thing people look at when evaluating a program.

                    I do this so the kids can touch, feel and learn about he horses. They learn to groom, help tack, the parents are involved too. I have surrounded myself with creatures who are gifted in their ability to bond and work with the kids. Most have special needs themselves. In my eyes, the students who have received the most benefit are those who are encouraged to do things others say they cannot. I watched an adult rider with CP learn to brush his hair thanks to brushing the horse! Small achievement? Not really! Many of the students are only limited by their care team. Give them the chance to learn and do...and many might be surprised what they can accomplish!

                    If I ever get to the point where I expect the kids to arrive, be lead through a sterile waiting area to the area and then lifted onto the horse and lead around in circles for a half hour...well, then I know it is time to hang it up
                    I Loff My Quarter Horse & I love Fenway Bartholomule cliques

                    Just somebody with a positive outlook on life...go ahead...hate me for that.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I volunteered for several years at a therapeutic program that worked with kids with multiple types of needs (emotional and physical) and my horse was part of the program as well. They used vaulting and traditional riding lessons and I helped out in a variety of ways. I absolutely loved it! I highly reccomend volunteering, but don't be afraid to look around and find one that your skills and interests will fit in with, as different programs have different goals and focuses. That being said though, don't be afraid to push yourself outside of your comfort zone a bit as I knwo I was surprised at how rewarding it was to work with the high needs kids even though at first I was not as comfortable with them and had to learn a lot. Some programs also need people to keep the horse's skills up to date as well, or do barn chores, office work, organizing, fundraising, etc. so there are usually a variety of avenues you can volunteer in.
                      Last edited by myvanya; Jul. 24, 2009, 12:10 PM. Reason: spelling
                      My blog:

                      RAWR

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I used to volunteer with one, and almost went to work for one (but my husband couldn't find a job in the same town so I had to pass). It was a wonderful experience.
                        Visit us at Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society - www.bluebonnetequine.org

                        Want to get involved in rescue or start your own? Check out How to Start a Horse Rescue - www.howtostartarescue.com

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by equineartworks View Post
                          This is a huge issue for me. Several programs I looked into working with did the pony ride bit. While this is still fun, it is a huge disservice to the majority of the riders. Just because they have special needs doesn't mean that many cannot enjoy or LEARN to become competent riders and horse people. One of the reasons I have not pursued NARHA certification is because the centers closest to me are pony ride, don't let their bottoms get dirty places. Sorry...but that is money I can invest into my own program. While NARHA is wonderful, it should not be the only thing people look at when evaluating a program.

                          I do this so the kids can touch, feel and learn about he horses. They learn to groom, help tack, the parents are involved too. I have surrounded myself with creatures who are gifted in their ability to bond and work with the kids. Most have special needs themselves. In my eyes, the students who have received the most benefit are those who are encouraged to do things others say they cannot. I watched an adult rider with CP learn to brush his hair thanks to brushing the horse! Small achievement? Not really! Many of the students are only limited by their care team. Give them the chance to learn and do...and many might be surprised what they can accomplish!

                          If I ever get to the point where I expect the kids to arrive, be lead through a sterile waiting area to the area and then lifted onto the horse and lead around in circles for a half hour...well, then I know it is time to hang it up
                          I totally agree with you on this and have to echo it. And I do agree that NARHA is a wonderful association, but please don't just look at NARHA programs as there are some outside of NARHA that are absolutle amazing!

                          And to share a brief story- I remember a girl I was helping who had autism. She was about 11 and had basically no verbal skills when she came into our program. She was also terrified of the horses at first and very withdrawn (as is common with autism). She started off just petting the horses, then grooming them, then leading them around. She would lead a horse around for 30 minutes at a time, which was an amazing amount of time for her to do one activity. After about a month I was sitting watching her lead my horse and I realized as she was leading him she was talking to him the whole time. Chattering away at him! It was amazing. I called her mom over and she couldn't believe it! She had never heard her use so many words. It really can do amazing things and it is pure elation when someone reaches a goal or achieves something like that. Later this same girl did go on to learn to ride and worked up to being able to walk, trot, and canter on her own
                          My blog:

                          RAWR

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Can I boast about someone from my barn? His name is Chris, and he had a brain injury at birth. When he started with my trainer (at age 12, I think) my trainer decided to focus on what he could do rather than assume the "couldn'ts" were etched in stone. As I understand it (and I wasn't living here then) the prognosis was that he might never walk independently, much less live independently.

                            Chris is now 25, a TH teacher himself (and he also gives lessons to not TH students). One of his students cleans up at our local TH shows. And where is Chris now? He's a working student for for a BNT (in VA, I just remember his first name is Richard).

                            Almost everyone at our barn has helped with the local TH in some capacity, and they are certified.
                            www.specialhorses.org
                            a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I have volunteered at a local center for the past 3-4 years and have thoroughly enjoyed my experience there. I've learned a lot about myself, and also about helping others. The kids are absolutely the reason I continue to volunteer- They are precious and it's awesome to watch them progress and learn to ride.
                              Professional COTH lurker.
                              Horses serve as a balm for the disquieted soul, and somehow allow even the most lost to feel at home in their presence ♥

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                My daughter is a rider at a local program. These programs can not operate without the hard work of their dedicated volunteers. My daughter requires the assistance of 3 volunteers every time she rides (leader and 2 side walkers). It takes 13 people to run one 4 rider class.
                                "Is it ignorance or apathy? Hey, I don't know and I don't care." ~Jimmy Buffett

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  i volunteered at a TR barn for five years; go for it.
                                  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                                  Today I will be happier than a bird with a french fry.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I volunteered at a program a few years ago (I have since moved and need to get this back on my schedule!). It was a program for kids coming out of the court system -- mostly very tough stories and a lot of emotional issues, not physical. I picked it based on where it was as I didn't have time for a long commute.
                                    When I called, they explained what kind of therapeutic riding they did, since most of us think it's solely about physical issues. They said they'd understand if I didn't want to volunteer. I said of course I'll give it a shot.

                                    It was a very, very rewarding experience. They didn't really need me, exactly, but they always found something for me to do. The kids were amazing to me (although many of them had very serious behavorial issues). It turned out they'd NEVER had a volunteer before (this was a residential facility, very well run). The kids would always ask me "are you being paid to come visit us?" It was heartbreaking and powerful just to spend time with them.
                                    The big man -- my lost prince

                                    The little brother, now my main man

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I volunteer at a therupedic riding center. It is a great experiance, and the smiles on the kids faces are totally worth it! Today they had a end of camp horse show. When the little girl I had been helping the past week won, I think I was as excited as she was!

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I will be working for a program in a few weeks. Can't wait!
                                        "You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
                                        you have a right to be here." ~ Desiderata by Max Ehrmann

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