top of page

Equine Volunteer Roles

Canine Volunteer Roles

Members of "For the Love of Therapy Animals!" Club are often called upon to volunteer in our Canine Training programs assisting the instructor during training classes.

For example, in the AKC Canine Good Citizen course, volunteers play act as people the handler/dog may meet.

In the Foundation of Public Access, volunteers may play/act being in a restaurant setting or mingling in a crowd that the dog must pass through.

At the instructor's request, experienced volunteers may assist with the AKC "Star" Puppy Kindergarten or Family Manners I, II, and III.

For more information on canine program volunteer support, please contact Chris Patella, (203) 804-5343,

Horse Leader:
All horse leaders must be approved by the equestrian director.  
The horse leader is responsible for:

  • Retrieving their assigned horse from the paddock

  • Grooming their assigned horse with designated equipment

  • Tacking their horse with designated equipment

  • Warming up their horse for 15-20 minutes prior to the session

  • Leading the horse for the participant during the session

  • Un-tacking their horse

  • Grooming/bathing their horse

  • Bringing the horse back to their designated paddock/stall

  • Cleaning the tack used on their horse

  • Putting away their tack and grooming bucket in the appropriate storage area

Side Walker:
The side walker's primary role is to assist the participant in any way possible to ensure safety and success during the session.

  • Arrive 15 minutes prior to the participant

  • Greet the participant and parent/caregiver

  • Assist the participant to locate the correctly sized helmet and help with needed adjustments for proper fit

  • Assist the participant in warm up exercises in/out of the arena

  • Assist the participant and instructor in mounting procedures

  • Assist the instructor in stirrup adjustments

  • Assist the participant during the session in a variety of holding positions that may include foot, ankle, thigh, hands, arm, posture

  • Reinforce language skills such as "Walk On, Whoa, Trot"

  • Reinforce social skills and interactions with the volunteer or other participants

  • Assist the instructor in the dismount

  • Guide the participant out of the arena

  • Assist the participant to remove their helmet and put it away in the proper storage area

  • Guide the participant back to the parent/caregiver

      Please note there are physical requirements for these volunteers:


  • Both leaders and side walkers will be asked to jog with the horse, the
    side walker beside the participant and horse, during trotting.

  • The side walker may also need to assist a participant to dismount during emergencies.

  • Animal Assisted Therapy Services reserves the right to determine the qualifications of all horse leaders and side walkers in order to provide the safest environment possible for all volunteers, participants, and instructors.

Additional Volunteer Needs:
Volunteers who cannot commit to a weekly program, or do not qualify as a leader or side walker, may choose to help in many other ways. These include:

  • General Farm Maintenance 

  • Planning/executing program fund raisers

  • Attending local promotional events as AaTs representatives

bottom of page