Four-legged and two-legged volunteers needed for TROT

Published 10:53 am Tuesday, January 23, 2018

TRYON – If you, or your horse, have some extra time during the week, Therapeutic Riding of Tryon (TROT) could use some help. TROT is seeking both human and equine volunteers Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons. 

They will have volunteer training on Saturday, Feb. 17 starting at 9 a.m. The session will include classroom time in the house at the Foothills Equestrian Nature Center (FENCE), questions and answers and hands on training.  

Human volunteers must be at least 16 years of age. Horse experience and knowledge is helpful, but not necessary. All TROT equine volunteers undergo an extensive screening process to determine their suitability for therapeutic riding lessons. 

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Rather than maintaining a string of lesson horses, TROT uses volunteer horses. These amazing equines are often retired from impressive careers in the hunt field or show ring and their owners trailer them to FENCE for the lessons. TROT Program Director Allison Rhyne said TROT especially needs horses large enough to carry adults.  

The purpose of TROT is to use horsemanship skills to change and enrich the lives of children and adults with physical, cognitive, developmental and emotional challenges. These challenges cover a wide spectrum from autism to traumatic brain injury. Founded in 2004, TROT is a Premier Accredited Center with the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) 

Student ages range from children as young as 6 to adults in their mid 50s. Currently TROT has 32 to 35 students each 10-week-session and runs a spring session and a fall session each year. They also work with students from Polk County High School on Tuesdays from 12:30 to 2 p.m. 

Since TROT is a program of FENCE, which is a 501c corporation, classes take place at the FENCE facility. Volunteer helpers and horses help keep expenses reasonable, but they do have a small paid staff and expenses for equipment.  

Many area horse owners donate tack and helmets for the program. Other funds are raised through the FENCE Development Plan or through fundraisers often supported by area equestrian events. 

For more information about volunteering for, or donating to, TROT, email or call 828-859-9021.