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Volunteering with VTRA

Volunteers are an integral part of the VTRA team. Volunteering with VTRA provides a fun opportunity to support participants in their equine activities, gain new skills, and develop lifelong friendships.

What Can Volunteers Do?
Horse Handlers are volunteers that lead the horse during adaptive riding and driving classes, assisting the participant to navigate riding tasks and obstacles and further their skills.
Training requirements:
  • Horse Handlers must pass an evaluation done by one of our certified instructors.
  • Horse Handlers should have substantial previous horse experience and should feel comfortable with all skills listed on the evaluation form.
Additional requirements:
  • Clear criminal record check
  • Previous horse experience
  • Minimum 16 years of age

Horse Handler

Sidewalkers are volunteers who walk alongside the participants during their adaptive riding or driving class, offering physical, cognitive, or emotional support as needed.
Training requirements:
  • Sidewalkers must complete a sidewalker training course. No prior horse experience is needed.
Additional requirements:
  • Clear criminal background check.
  • Minimum 16 years of age.

 Sidewalker 

Grooms are volunteers who groom and tack up horses in preparation for their next lesson, and assist with other needed barn and facility tasks.
Training requirements:
  • Grooms must pass an evaluation done by one of our certified instructors.
  • Grooms should have substantial previous horse experience and should feel comfortable with all skills listed on the evaluation form.
Additional requirements:
  • Clear criminal record check
  • Prior horse experience
  • Minimum 16 years of age

Groom

Assistant instructors (AIs) are volunteers who support the instructor in delivering the lesson content and support the riders in improving their skills. AIs also help ensure lessons are safe and fun, support other volunteers, and manage tack change.
Training requirements:
  • Assistant Instructor must take Sidewalker Training, must take and pass Horse Handler training, an complete an Assistant Instructor training.
Additional requirements:
  • Clear criminal record
  • Prior horse experience
  • Minimum 16 years of age
  • Experience in another role in the program is an asset

Assistant Instructor

Stable Management Volunteers are volunteers who support the instructor in delivering stable management content, ensuring lessons are safe and fun.
Training requirements:
  • None needed. Sidewalker and horse handler training are very beneficial.
Additional requirements:
  • Clear criminal record check
  • Minimum 16 years of age

Stable Management

Groups can reach out to VTRA for opportunities to assist with facility maintenance or other projects that need to be done around the farm.


VTRA also hosts and attends a number of events throughout the year. Volunteers are always needed to help set up, represent the organization, and take down.

Work Parties and Events

Can I choose to only volunteer in the horse roles?


When in a regular spot, you can certainly request which role you prefer. However, all volunteers are expected to fill any position they are trained to do, which may include sidewalking, ring spotting, and assisting with the Stable Management classes. It is very important that our volunteers are flexible so they are best able to help us keep our programs running.




Can I fulfill hour requirements by volunteering with VTRA?


Absolutely! Please try to record how many hours you volunteer with us. When you need a reference or a letter to certify that you completed x number of hours, please email the Coordinator of Volunteers.




Can I volunteer on evenings and weekends?


Our programs do not run on weekends, but we sometimes hold fundraisers and special events on weekends. We will need volunteers for that, so if you’re interested, please make note of that on your application and in your emails with the Coordinator of Volunteers. There are currently no opportunities to muck paddocks or groom horses after-hours. We currently only run one evening class that begins at 5:15pm on Thursdays.




Can I try Horse Handler or Groom training without horse experience?


No. Any volunteer attempting Horse Handler or Groom training should feel confident that they can pass the Horse Handler or Groom evaluations. Copies of the evaluation forms are provided in your first email from the Coordinator of Volunteers. If you do not have any horse experience, you must start as a sidewalker.




It’s been a while since I’ve worked with horses. Should I start with sidewalking?


Yes! We require a substantial amount of horse experience to pass Horse Handler or Groom training. Anyone who is not experienced enough must do at least 6 months of sidewalking before attempting the other trainings. Sidewalking is super fun and a great way to get to know our program and re-familiarize yourself with horses!




I have a past injury/health condition that makes it difficult for me to lift or run. Can I still volunteer?


Absolutely. We can swap volunteers out for the running portion of the class if needed and / or schedule you with another volunteer who can assist you when needed.




What are the class times?


Class times have changed due to Covid-19, as we adjust our classes to ensure we always have a safe number of people at the facility. Lesson times are currently generally 9:30, 10:15, 11:00, 11:45, 2:30, 3:15, 4:00 and 4:45. Lesson times may vary based on the day of the week and the term.





Frequently Asked Questions

WHAT PEOPLE SAY ABOUT VOLUNTEERING AT VTRA

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"Volunteering with the VTRA has been one of the most rewarding and satisfying endeavours I’ve undertaken. Although you would assume that volunteering benefits the kids that are riding, I think the benefits to the volunteers themselves are just as important. There is such a positive and friendly attitude at VTRA, the staff are so welcoming and patient. Being involved can lift spirits and shine a bright light on your day. To see the joy in the face of the kids riding and to be able to have close contact with the horses is the best cure for whatever ails you. Volunteering for VTRA is my weekly positive mental health break!"

“As a volunteer, I really enjoy seeing the riders gain confidence with themselves and the horse as the term progresses. It is very rewarding to support an organization that has such positive impacts on its participants.”

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“VTRA is a godsend to the lives of not only our students, but their families and friends alike. To see the joy in the face of a student who normally shows no expression, or the “WooHoo!” from a young man at the end of the lesson who is so very proud of himself is so precious. As a volunteer, there is nothing more rewarding than being a part of the magic between the horse and the student. Life is Good!”