What types of volunteer opportunities do you have?
The majority of volunteer opportunities at Windrush Farm are helping in our therapeutic classes, as a horse handler or a sidewalker. This may involve helping the client while riding, or assisting the client in the barn. We do, however, have some grounds and building maintenance projects that are need volunteers, as well.
What types of opportunities do you have for corporate, community or school groups?
Windrush Farm is a 35 acre working farm, which means we ALWAYS have something do on the property! We welcome groups to help with any number of grounds and building maintenance projects. Past projects have included: painting, fence mending, shed building, trail and field clearing, building new walkways, gardening, fall and spring cleanup, and the like.
What does a horse handler do?
A horse handler is responsible for leading and managing the horse during the lesson, which includes bringing the horse down to the arena before the lesson and returning the horse to the barn after the lesson. In addition, the horse handler should arrive early enough to bridle the horse he/she is working with. We also rely on the horse handler to monitor the behavior of the horse during class, and report any concerns to the barn manager and instructor.
What does a sidewalker do?
A sidewalker is the volunteer that walks alongside the horse while the client is riding. The sidewalker is responsible for helping to keep the client safe and achieve the goals in the class. This sometimes will involve a safety hold of the client for an entire lesson. The sidewalker is an extension of the instructor, who helps to guide and coach the client through the lesson.
Do you have an age limit?
Volunteers need to be at least 14 years of age to help in our therapeutic classes.
Do you have any special requirements for volunteers?
We will ask if you are able to walk and jog (run) alongside a horse during class. Most of our therapeutic classes involve the horse trotting, so a volunteer should be able to comfortably run with the client and horse for short periods of time.
Do you need to have horse experience or experience working with people with disabilities?
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.
Do you run background checks on your volunteers?
Yes, we are required by Massachusetts state law to run a CORI (background) check on all volunteers and staff on property. Our complete CORI policy is on our website.
What forms do I need to complete?
New volunteers will need to complete the online signup, or alternatively, our hard-copy volunteer packet. In addition, we need a completed Emergency Medical Release form (renewed annually) and CORI (background check) forms completed in full. We will provide all the forms to you.
Do I need to attend the training and orientation? I have a lot of horse experience.
Yes, all new volunteers, regardless of their background, must attend a full training and orientation session. This gives us an opportunity to review Windrush Farm’s methods and practices with both our clients and our horses. This also helps us to place volunteers appropriately. In addition, as part of our Premier Accreditation, this is a PATH (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International) requirement.
What is the time commitment for volunteering?
For classes running between September and June, we ask volunteers to commit to at least 1.5 hours, once a week, for an entire session (sessions run between 7 weeks and 15 weeks long). Our summer volunteers are asked to commit to one full week of volunteering, Monday – Friday in July and August. Volunteers are, as always, welcome to volunteer more, as our schedule and availability permits!
Can I just finish my community service hours and be done volunteering?
Our philosophy is to create teams that work together during class – a team of client, horse, and volunteers. It is far more beneficial to the client that the team remains committed and consistent throughout the entire session. Therefore we request that all volunteers commit to an entire session of volunteering (for instance, for the entire 15 week spring session), even if that goes past the 10 or 15 hours of volunteering you are doing for school community service.
Do you have any weekend volunteer opportunities?
Typically we do not have programming on the weekends requiring class volunteers. However, we do welcome corporate, school and community groups on weekends for one-time community service volunteering!
Can I just volunteer with the horses?
We do not typically have volunteer opportunities to just help with the horses in the barn. Our focus is on our therapeutic riding program, so all volunteers are requested to help in our classes. However, horse handlers are encouraged to come early to help groom and tack horses!
Do you offer riding opportunities for your volunteers?
We so wish we could have all our volunteers ride! However, our horses work so hard already with so many different people, that we just could not add to their work schedules to let all our volunteers ride. However, we do periodically offer specials on recreational riding lessons to our volunteers. In addition, we routinely offer free educational refreshers.
Questions? Please do not hesitate to contact the office or Volunteer Coordinator directly! (978) 682-7855 | firstname.lastname@example.org