We could not run our program without Side Helpers!


What is a Side Helper?

A Side Helper (SH) is the person who walks alongside the student. Some of our students require physical support that is provided by the SH and most of our students thrive from the positive reinforcement provided by their SH friends. As a SH, it’s your job to pay attention to the safety ensuring that they are paying attention to the instructor and riding to the best of their ability. Side Helpers play an integral part in tracking student’s progress. Each SH is assigned to one student for the duration of the session. In doing this, the student is able to bond with their SH’s and in doing so, they create a level of trust that enables them to do things they may have never done without your support. At the end of each lesson, SH’s fill out evaluation sheets and comment on their students progress, success and needs for improvement. These evaluations then help instructors tailor their lesson plans to the students needs and goals.

Who can be a Side Helper?

  • For safety reasons, a minimum height requirement of 5’4” (or comparable reach) is considered.
  • No horse experience required but must be comfortable around horses.
  • Must be physically capable of walking for 30-45 minutes at a time, and jogging short distances (20-30 feet).
  • All TRI Volunteers must pass a background check.
  • All TRI Volunteers must be at least 14 years old.
  • Side Helpers for the Horses Assisting Heroes Program must also be Veterans.

Side Helper Levels –

All Side Helpers begin volunteering with TRI at a Level 1. Volunteers are able to advance through the levels by passing a series of written tests and demonstrations. Levels are based on horsemanship skills – equine experience and ability. Levels are awarded at the discretion of TRI Staff. If you’re interested in moving up through the levels, contact Sam Lape for more information (Volunteer@TRIOhio.org).

*Please note that moving through the levels may require you to take riding lessons. TRI currently offers a “Horse Buddies” program along with Volunteer Lessons throughout the winter. Please consider signing up for these in addition to your regular volunteering to help you move through the levels.*

Level I – Trained as a Side Helper, but has limited (if any) horse experience.

Level II – Trained as a Side Helper, and knowledgeable enough to help students groom in the arena with supervision from Horse Leader.

Level III – Trained as a Side Helper, and able to help student groom and tack in the arena with minimal supervision.  Able to pick front feet.

What is the time requirement?

Side Helpers are asked to commit to 1 night (or day) a week – about 2.5 hours – for the full duration of the session (8 weeks). All Side Helpers are expected to give advance notice for any absences. It is difficult to find subs the day of the class and if a sub is unable to be found, it may result in your student not being able to ride. Remember, your student depends on you!

How do I sign up?

Contact  Volunteer@TRIOhio.org to get signed up for the next Volunteer Training. This 2.5 hour training must be completed before you are able to volunteer in a class. The Application Packet can be reviewed and printed here. We would be grateful if you would print this application and bring signed copies, along with a signed FineLine Liability realease, to the Volunteer Training.

** Parent/Guardian Signatures are required on all Minor’s Applications**

2017 Side Helper Trainings are: 

March 7 from 5:45 – 8pm

May 30 from 5:45 – 8pm

August 22 from 5:45 – 8pm

Register by contacting Sam Lape at Volunteer@TRIOhio.org

2017 TRI Volunteer Application

FineLine Liability Form – Adult

FineLine Liablity – Minor

The TRI Volunteer Application  and FineLine Liability Form must be turned in at Volunteer Training in order to be eligible to participate.