Volunteers are a vital part of Bearcat Therapeutic Riding. Our riders, both children and adults, require up to three volunteers each in order to participate. Volunteers serve primarily as side-walkers and horse-handlers during riding classes, but also clean tack, provide office assistance, help maintain facilities and grounds and assist with special events, such as horse shows. Through required training sessions, volunteers are educated about horse behavior, disabilities, effective communication and, most importantly, how to create a safe learning environment. Bearcat Therapeutic Riding accepts volunteers age 16 and older with all levels of experience.


How to Become a Volunteer

Mail completed forms to:

Tara Slatton
Lander University Equestrian Center
2611 Hwy 72-221 E
Greenwood, SC 29649

Or email to:

Attn: Tara Slatton


Volunteer Opportunities

Side-walker: Responsible for assisting rider with instructions and balance during class. Requirements for all side-walkers include: 

  • Able to walk in shallow sand for 45 minutes and jog for brief periods (if unable to jog, may be assigned to non-trotting riders)
  • Should not have back problems
  • Must be able to lift arms above shoulder height

Most riders cannot participate without side-walkers. They form special relationships with the riders as the riders look to them for guidance and support throughout the lesson. Side-walkers become the eyes, ears and voice of the instructor, and as such, are vital to the safety and well-being of the rider.

Facilities Maintenance: There are always chores to be done around a barn. These may include washing out feed/water buckets, cleaning tack/helmets, and organizing games/activities, among others.


Advanced Volunteer Opportunities

These opportunities are for volunteers that either successfully complete specialized training provided by Bearcat Therapeutic Riding and/or successfully volunteer for at least one full riding session.



Responsible for leading the horse during the adapted riding class. Horse-handler training classes held at Bearcat Therapeutic Riding will educate the prospective horse handler in the appropriate way to communicate with the horse in order to provide the rider/client with the most beneficial movement, and therefore effective session, possible. Classes are scheduled during volunteer trainings in order to determine interest and availability.

A well-trained horse-handler is an essential volunteer. He/she works as a team with the horse and side-walkers to enable our riders to receive the benefits from and joy of sitting astride a horse in a safe, structured environment.


Session Leader

Responsible for ensuring horses are groomed, correctly tacked and ready for the riding lesson on time, as well as working with volunteers who are interested in learning about grooming/tacking horses. 

Requirements for all session leaders include:

  • Familiarity with rules and policies governing Bearcat Therapeutic Riding and with riding equipment and its use
  • Should be able to give direction in a pleasant and organized manner
  • Review the Grooming and Tacking rules

By managing all the details required to prepare for an adapted riding class, session leaders allow the instructors to focus on the riders and their learning objectives. This is a crucial part of providing safe, progressive and innovative instruction.