Please contact the Volunteer Coordinator, Diana Moldovan, at email@example.com or call 570-409-1140 to discuss your interest in becoming a volunteer and to sign up for the next scheduled Volunteer Training.
GAIT TRC’s volunteers are vital to running a safe and successful program for participants, as well as to foster the bonds between horse and rider for their therapeutic benefit. GAIT would not be able to provide a high quality program for participants without the dedication of its volunteers, and we are always grateful to have more help.
If you enjoy being outdoors, working with animals, and helping those in need, GAIT may be just the place for you. Become part of a team with PATH Intl. Certified Instructors, other volunteers, and specially trained horses to assist participants during equine activities. GAIT provides many rewarding opportunities for those who are interested in working with horses, being physically active, learning new skills, and giving back to the community. Volunteer experience is also beneficial to expanding your social network, exploring career opportunities, and building references for work/ college resumes.
Experience with horses and/or working with individuals with special needs is appreciated, but not necessary as we will teach you everything you need to know. There are 4 requirements to be a volunteer here at GAIT TRC:
- Volunteers must be 12 years of age or older. Due to insurance reasons and safety standards set by PATH Intl., no exceptions can be made to this policy.
- Volunteers over the age of 18 are required by PA law to obtain required background checks prior to the start of volunteering. These are:
- PA Child Abuse Clearance: Child Welfare Portal -Fee waived for volunteers
- PA State Criminal Background Check: Pennsylvania Access To Criminal History -Fee waived for volunteers
- FBI Fingerprint Criminal History Clearance: register online through IdentiGO or call 844-321-2101 –Current reduced fee is approx $25 for volunteers
- A service code is required to register- call GAIT’s Volunteer Coordinator to request code
- Follow prompts to schedule an appointment to be fingerprinted. Payment will be required at the time of your appointment.
- Volunteer Application Forms must be completed, signed, and returned to the Volunteer Coordinator. These forms are valid for the current year only and must be updated annually.
- All new and returning volunteers are required to attend one Safety and Orientation Volunteer Training annually. These trainings are usually scheduled for the first Saturday of each Session from 12:30 pm- 2:00 pm (see calendar for details). Schedules are subject to change, so please check with us to confirm.
- Assisting during Therapeutic Riding classes and/or Off – Horse Activities Program
- Barn chores (volunteer “barn day”), arena set up/ break down
- Landscaping, gardening, and/or facility repairs
- Additional training to become horse handlers/ groomers
- Mailings/ flyer distribution
- Assisting during educational workshops, fundraising, and other special events
The majority of assistance needed from volunteers is during Therapeutic Riding classes, which run from Jan- Nov. Classes are typically scheduled for Monday evenings, Wednesday evenings, and Saturday mornings. Volunteers play a pivotal role in ensuring a safe, effective, and educational experience for all riders involved.
- Side Aides (Level 1) – All new volunteers start out as side aides, regardless of previous experience. Side aides ensure the safety of the riders and provide physical support or assistance when needed. They also provide encouragement and motivation for the rider to stay focused and complete tasks.
- Horse Groomers (Level 2) – Groomers are also responsible for getting the horses ready before class, keeping them relaxed, and alerting the Instructor to any injury or behavioral issues. Groomer Training is offered to volunteers who have assisted as side aides for a minimum of 20 hours. This training teaches volunteers how to groom, safety around horses, equine behavior, and identifying basic health concerns.
- Horse Leaders (Level 3) – Leaders are responsible for the care of the horse before, during, and after the lesson. This includes warming up before class, fly spray, emotional support, and untacking after class. Leaders help to guide the horse as directed by the Instructor and ensure the safety of both horse and rider. Leaders must be alert, pay attention to safety, and be aware of the horse’s movement and behavior at all times. Leader training is offered to volunteers who have successfully groomed at least 3 horses prior to class and show competent understanding of horse behavior. Volunteers can repeat this training and request additional help as many times as needed in order to be able to effectively lead horses during class.
- Mounters (Level 4) – Mounters are assigned by the Instructor to mount and/or assist with mounting riders during class. Volunteers who have become proficient in aiding riders after many hours of volunteering and show an understanding of cognitive and physical disabilities as they apply within a therapeutic setting are eligible to receive this training. Specialty mounting (crest mount, side mount) will be taught on an as-needed basis, in preparation for a new rider.