Volunteer Spotlight: EQUI-KIDS and EQUI-VETS

A traumatic brain injury or mental disability can turn one’s life from a calm sea into a storm.

EQUI-KIDS and EQUI-VETS, their staff, and their horses can help with that. But they need your support to keep the programs running.

“EQUI-VETS started in 2010 with one rider. This year we serve over 50 vets,” says Jamie Rhoades, Event and Public Relations Manager for EQUI-KIDS proudly. And since the child therapy program started with one horse and six riders first in 1989,  it’s gotten exponentially bigger.

EQUI-KIDS and EQUI-VETS offers therapeutic riding lessons and equine therapy for kids of all ages with a wide range of disabilities as well as US Veterans and active duty service members suffering from PTSD. They have licensed therapists, counselors, and 16 experienced horses to provide crucial, and in some cases life-changing, therapy for program participants.

The therapy isn’t all riding, either. “People can enjoy time in the barn,” explained Rhoades. “Not all lessons are mounted.” Psychotherapy sessions can involve observing horse behavior, verbal interaction, and creating a safe, trusting environment that both horses and individuals suffering from mental disabilities often need. As one vet explained, the therapy “creates a pathway for trust.”

All of this great therapy is done with the help of a LOT of volunteers. Every rider takes three volunteers to lead the horse and

Special ramps like this one help riders with disabilities get on a horse safely
Special ramps like this one help riders with disabilities get on a horse safely

walk supporting the rider on either side. There is also more than enough barn work to be done to keep the horses happy and healthy in their stalls year round.

So how can you help?

Visit equikids.org to find about about upcoming  sessions and how you can volunteer, and send an email to Volunteer Coordinator Susan Hahn at volunteer@equikids.org. From there you can attend an open house and training session at their Virginia Beach facility.

If you can’t get out with the horses or in the barn, you can attend their annual Stall Ball, which is November 21st. It’ll be a great party with a silent auction, live music, and some great food. Click here for details. 

“It’s hard work, but great work.” Says Volunteer Coordinator Susan Hahn. “A lot of friendships come out of volunteering.”