Therapeutic Riding Program's Hints for Volunteers

These elementary safety precautions are produced for the guidance of all groups and their helpers.

Typical Roles

Instructor     

In charge of the class, does not lead or side-walk except in an emergency, It is essential to have an experienced and qualified person watching the riders, helpers and horses at all times.

Leader 

In charge of the horse at all times.  The leader must stand in front of the horse when stopped.  The leader does not generally speak to the rider and focuses on the horse while listening for any directions from the left sidewalker.

Side-walkers

One on each side of the rider. As the rider progresses, the helper on the near side can be removed. In this case, the leader and the remaining side-walker should be on opposite sides of the horse.

Assistant

This individual(s) will help students with their stretches, games and any other necessary function.  This position is very valuable as it allows the 2 sidewalkers to keep a hand on the rider at all times.

Hints for Volunteers  

Leaders, don't look back if the horse won't follow.

Lead at an even pace, right hand near the head, left hand holding the slack,     avoid loops in the reins. Avoid sharp turns.

Leaders, allow distance between the sidewalkers and any obstacles.
No chatting between leaders and side-walkers.

No treats to horses or riders without permission.
Relaxed, confident side-walkers and leaders help the riders to be relaxed.        

Never be overconfident or forget to pay attention. This is when accidents happen. YOU are responsible for the riders’ safety.

Belts are safety devices for loss of balance in the rider, NOT to support the side- walkers. Sidewalkers should not hold onto the safety belt except in emergencies.

Watch out for signs of mental or physical fatigue in the rider and be prepared to stop early if necessary. Volunteers can get carried away by their own enthusiasm.

Don't take someone's crutches or wheelchair away without asking.  They may want them nearby.

Don't prejudge individuals with disabilities.

Have fun with the riders.  Their philosophies and good humor will inspire you.  Their reciprocal friendship will delight you.  You will have fun helping them.  They will have fun helping you.

Hints for Mounting

Mounting should be an orderly procedure and only undertaken by the instructor or other designated and trained staff member or volunteer. Riders should be mounted one at a time with all wheelchairs, crutches, other horses and riders out of the way.

A firm ramp or mounting block is essential.

Be sure all horses are used to the ramp, wheelchairs and all other adaptive equipment.

Have one person in charge of the horse at it's head.
        
Have at least one person on the offside of the horse to help the rider and adjust the stirrups.  Remember that the elastic faces out with the safety stirrups.
        
Allow riders to mount as independently as possible offering as much physical support as necessary.  More physically impaired riders will need to be lifted  from the ramp or block into the saddle.
        
In case of an emergency, remove all other riders, horses and volunteers and keep the student still until medical help is available.