Important considerations while working with participants in the Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies Industry

June 29, 2018

It never hurts to have a refresher on certain protocols, especially if we have been performing a certain job or task for an extended period of time. In training here at Southern Reins, we often have to provide a lot of information in a short amount of time, so for this month’s blog post, I wanted to go through a few reminders that are very important when working with our participants here at the farm.

A person's diagnosis is confidential. We have several participants here that will choose to share their diagnosis, and it is their right to do so; however, we do not share this information with volunteers or fellow staff members. Our Instructors and Therapists are trained to work with all types of disabilities, but having others inquire about the effects of a participant’s diagnosis or symptoms is not required to provide support in a volunteer role.  We want all of our volunteers to feel confident in their role, and may provide information as needed, but we are not able to share the actual diagnosis. With that in mind, please do not be offended if the Instructor or Therapists shared that they cannot disclose that information.


Every person at Southern Reins will be treated with dignity and respect. We often times hear questions like “What is wrong with them?” or “What do they have?” While the intentions are honorable to learn more about the participants, unfortunately, these questions are sometimes asked where the participant can hear the conversation. As a reminder, even if a participant cannot speak or communicate in the same way you do, they can often understand what is being said. For this reason, we always want to be sure we aren’t speaking about the person as if they are not there, especially if we are unaware of the person's cognitive abilities. We also want to be sure that when working with adults, we treat them like adults. Though their expressive abilities or language may seem limited, it does not mean that cognitively they are not fully processing conversations around them. Simplifying instructions is okay, just be sure to speak with adults as adults.


Stay cool, but dress appropriately.  With the soaring temperatures, it’s important to stay cool, especially when working hard in the ring for a lesson. We want you to be comfortable, but we also have a dress code. Choose tech fabric short sleeve tops over tank tops, and shorts must be at an appropriate length: with the bottom edge no less than your fingertips when your arms are down and relaxed.


In the ring, silence is golden.  Many participants, parents and caregivers comment on the volume of conversation that takes place between volunteers in a lesson. That can be very distracting for the participant, and can hinder the effectiveness of the instruction being provided.  The participant may not be able to hear the Instructor over these conversations, or the participant may become upset that they are not able to contribute to these types of conversations. For many parents and caregivers, they enjoy listening to the lesson content so they can practice skills at home, and other conversations make it difficult for them to hear. While we love that our volunteers become friends, we ask that you keep personal conversations to the time spent outside of the ring.


Smiles are contagious.  As always, we want you to enjoy your time at Southern Reins. Have fun, and celebrate the accomplishment of your participant!  Your contributions make an immeasurable difference for our riders, and we appreciate every minute you give to give our participants the opportunity to achieve, aspire and amaze!





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© 2015 by Southern Reins

Southern Reins Center for Equine Therapy

916 Billy Bryant Road

Collierville TN 38017


501(c)3 Nonprofit  ID Number: 47-4647784

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