By Christine Ross, CanTRA Vice President 

Have you considered volunteering at a therapeutic riding program in 2022? 

As the pandemic restrictions are easing for the moment, this could be a good time to become involved as a volunteer at your local therapeutic riding program. 

Volunteering has lots of excellent benefits. It is an opportunity to support a vulnerable population and witness the joy that riding a horse brings into their lives. “As a volunteer, the support I provide in leading or side-walking the horses is rewarded over and over in happy faces and the joy the riders show in their accomplishments,” says volunteer Gerri O.

Volunteers are at the core of every therapeutic riding program and carry out a variety of very important roles. They can be from all age groups and from all walks of life, starting at 14 years of age up to seniors. The role of leading a horse or side-walking to assist in supporting a rider is certainly a healthy physical workout for our volunteers.

CanTRA Programs run very comprehensive volunteer training sessions. CanTRA Instructors are able to provide all the training requirements for a volunteer working with horses and also riders with special needs. The training includes activities like leading, side-walking, grooming, bridling, saddling, helmet fitting, tack cleaning, and how to look after the barn. This is great experience for anyone who wants to learn more about horses and their care. For those who are not as comfortable around horses, or for those with less energy, there are office tasks and fundraising events where volunteers are always needed.

Some volunteers have retired from careers where they have experience in aspects of governance, finances, administration, and management. This can be of great assistance to therapeutic riding programs where their expertise can be shared. They can help with growth, development, and ongoing administration.

Altogether the volunteers in therapeutic riding programs create a rich tapestry of expertise, support, and assistance for riders with special needs and for the therapeutic riding horses and ponies. Therapeutic riding in Canada would not be where it is today without the amazing contribution of volunteers across the country.

Photo: A group of volunteers assisting riders at The Comox Valley Therapeutic Riding Society. Credit: Bill Jorgenson