MGH Volunteers

Our MGH Family

  • A photo of MGHSE staff and volunteers gathered outside the MGH arena.          

    Being a volunteer with MGH Arena is more than just working in classes or helping in the barn.  We want everyone who comes on the property to feel like part of what we call the "MGH Family".  Volunteers are the heart of our program.  We couldn't provide services to the students of AIDB without the amazing people who give of their time each week.

    A volunteer gives a student on horseback at the MGHSE arena a high five. Volunteers perform various jobs while at the arena (no previous horse experience required!). One such job is side walking. In an equine-assisted therapy class, the side walkers aid the instructor in the physical manipulation and support of the participant. This can be a very “hands on” job. In a therapeutic riding lesson, depending on the level of independence of the rider, the side walker may provide some physical as well as emotional and motivational support. In some cases, the side walker is acting as a sighted guide for students who are blind or who have low vision. The ultimate goal of a good side walker is to encourage the participant to stretch, grow, and develop to their fullest potential while helping to provide a safe environment. Side walkers work side-by-side with the instructor, never leaving the student’s side without direction from the instructor.

    Other jobs volunteers perform daily are horse prep and leading. Prior to each class, multiple horses must be fully groomed and tacked (saddle, sidepull, etc.) to be prepared for the upcoming lesson. This task takes time and attention to detail. After the horses are ready for class, the volunteers may be asked to lead the horse during the lesson. In most cases, the horse leader will remain connected and in control of the horse throughout the lesson. In some therapeutic riding lessons, depending on the skill of the student and direction of the instructor, the horse leader may disconnect and let the student control the horse independently. Connected or disconnected, the horse leader remains aware of the horse and is able to assist the student as needed.

    Three female volunteers smile as they display an MGHSE pony wearing red, white and blue for Veteran's Day When new volunteers first come to the arena, they go through in-depth training to cover all of the skills required of them. This allows anyone to become a volunteer, regardless if they have experience working with horses or children. Additionally, several events are hosted throughout the year to serve as “thank you's” for the volunteers such as the Welcome Back breakfast, a barn dance, a sock hop, and pot luck family meals to celebrate holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.

    If you are interested in joining the volunteer family, please contact Katie Hickman at or (256) 761-3364.

Volunteer and Staff Trail Ride

Six horses with riders standing in a line in a field in front of trees.
A male volunteer helps a young boy waiting to ride a horse at the MGHSE arena read a book