Frequently Asked Questions
Therapeutic riding uses equine-oriented activities for the purpose of contributing positively to the cognitive, physical, emotional and social well-being of people with disabilities. Physically, it’s the horse’s movement that has a dynamic effect on the rider’s body. The horse stimulates the rider’s pelvis and trunk in a manner that closely resembles a human’s normal gait. This movement can produce specific physical changes in the rider: improvement in posture and balance, increased strength, and normalized muscle tone. Sensorially, the movement of the horse can help with a variety of sensory integration issues. A smooth-gaited, consistently paced horse provides needed input to help a rider establish rhythm. A rough-gaited horse may provide a rider with the stimulation to help organize and integrate sensory input. Movement exploration while on the horse helps improve overall body awareness. Emotionally, the success of overcoming fear and anxiety, and the ability to achieve a riding skill helps a rider to realize self-worth and increase self-esteem. The relationships that develop between riders, volunteers, horses, and staff are integral to the positive emotional experience at Lovelane. Cognitively, the horse provides many riders with the motivation to learn new things. Educational goals such as letter recognition and sequencing can be incorporated into riding activities. Socially, therapeutic riding enables individuals to interact with instructors, volunteers and their peers in a group activity. Riding and the related games and exercises can be both fun and challenging.
Generally, the minimum age to volunteer in lessons is 16. We occasionally schedule younger teenagers with solid horse experience for barn work. Volunteers under the age of 18 must have the written consent of a parent or guardian before volunteering at Lovelane.
Horse leader during lessons, sidewalker during lessons, barn help, special office projects, such as mailings, events, demonstrations, speaking opportunities, Horsemanship Workshops, Barn Buddies Program
A horse leader is responsible for leading and managing the horse during the lesson, which includes leading the horse during mounting, dismounting and the lesson. The horse leader is responsible for tacking and untacking the horse, with the guidance of a staff member.
A sidewalker is the volunteer that walks alongside the horse while the student is riding. The sidewalker is responsible for helping to keep the student safe and achieve the goals in the class. This sometimes will involve a safety hold of the student for an entire lesson. The sidewalker is an extension of the instructor, who helps to guide and coach the student through the lesson. A sidewalker must be able to physically jog alongside the horse.
No, you do not need any prior experience to volunteer with us. We train all our volunteers, regardless of their experience, to help in our therapeutic classes. We will try our best to place you in a volunteer position that meets both your interests and strengths.
Yes, we are required by Massachusetts state law to run a CORI (background) check on all volunteers and staff on property.
New volunteers will need to complete the online signup, or alternatively, our hard-copy volunteer packet. In addition, we need a CORI (background check) form completed in full. We will provide all the forms to you.
For sidewalkers, it's mostly on-the-job training. For leaders and tackers, you need to have significant horse experience and also be volunteering regularly with us. Then our staff will train you to tack and lead during individual training sessions. We also give all volunteers a volunteer manual that needs to be read before volunteering, and can also be used as a reference guide.
Lovelane lessons operate by semester. Whether you are a weekly volunteer or on our substitute list, we ask that you commit to at least one semester. A typical volunteer comes once a week for about three hours. Our semester dates are as follows: Fall: September 1st – January 31st of the following year Spring: February 1st – June 30th Summer: July 1st – August 31st For weekly volunteers for Fall and Spring semester, we ask that you don’t plan on missing more than 3 times over the entire semester. For weekly summer volunteers we ask you don’t plan on missing more than 2 times over the entire semester. We usually have a few different options for summer programming, so you can volunteer as much or as little as you would like around your busy summer schedule. Please let us know as far in advance as possible if you need to cancel your shift. To cancel please call 781-259-1177 x30.
Yes, we are open 7 days a week and hold lessons on the weekends.
Yes, we have barn volunteer opportunities for individuals who have previous horse experience. Barn volunteers assist the Barn Manager with chores, such as mucking stalls, sweeping the aisle and cleaning and filling water buckets. Barn volunteers with horse experience can help tack horses for lessons, as well.
Yes, we welcome volunteer groups from companies. Typically we can only accommodate a small group (4-6 people) a few times a year. During your visit you will receive a tour of the facility, information on Lovelane and instruction from staff or volunteers on the way you can help Lovelane during your visit. For ideas on how your company can support Lovelane please contact Lisa Williams at Lisa@lovelane.org or 781-259-1177 x26.