Throughout the course of each week we benefit from the kindness and giving spirit of many volunteers at Hearts and Hooves. Individuals of all ages — from retired citizens to today’s youth come together to share their skills and devotion to better the lives of the challenged members of their community. Some work on Hearts and Hooves projects from their homes, some prefer tackling those larger special renovation projects at the center, and still others enjoy assisting our special needs riders during their therapy sessions and working with the horses.
There are many different reasons these individuals choose to come to Hearts and Hooves, but there is always a common factor that is found- The DESIRE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE in another’s life.
We rely on our volunteers to assist our participants during the therapeutic riding sessions in a team approach. It is the guidance, safety and encouragement a volunteer provides that enhances the Therapeutic Riding lesson. With their help disabilities are challenged and new abilities are created.
We ask for a minimum time commitment of about 2 hours. We can happily accommodate more hours, and/or more opportunities if you wish. You can choose a day and time that best fits your schedule.
If you would like to take the next step toward becoming a part of Hearts & Hooves please contact us at
(704) 478-8230 ext. 6410 or you can call / text our Volunteer Coordinator at (803) 605-2931
*You must be at least 18 years old to work with our participants.
(A background check must be ran prior to directly working with our participants.)
All volunteers must be able to demonstrate the willingness and ability to follow directions effectively. As well as demonstrate the willingness and ability to follow all safety rules. We also need our volunteers to have the ability to complete given tasks independently,
treat all riders, volunteers, staff and animals with dignity and respect.
Volunteer opportunities NOT involving therapeutic riding lessons and care of the horses directly do not require attendance at our 2 hour volunteer training, but you must attend our orientation and task specific training.
Click on the link below to fill out an application;
Specific Volunteer Duties
Watering and Mucking: Volunteers are needed to fill water buckets (each equine has its own bucket with its name on it) and muck the pens when we have lessons. (We use five-gallon buckets to put manure in.)
You will be trained in the specific needs of the duty for which you have volunteered, if needed.
Grooming: All of the horses require grooming before lessons. This includes picking their feet, brushing their coats (especially the saddle area). *Horse handlers/owners will groom their own horse unless otherwise specified.
Tacking: Tacking at Hearts and Hooves refers to the horse's bareback pad and rainbow reins. Some horses or riders require special pads, reins or other gear to improve their comfort or performance. All of this will be indicated on the daily lesson roster. The horse should be ready at least five minutes prior to the next lesson. *Horse handlers/owners will be responsible for tacking up their own horse unless otherwise specified.
Horse Leader: While leading a horse in a lesson, volunteers are responsible primarily for the horse. Leaders need to be focused and alert for the duration of the class and must be able to safely control the horse at a walk or a trot. Horse leaders must demonstrate their ability to lead a therapy horse and be approved by the Certified Instructor. *Horse owners will primarily be the ones leading their own horse unless otherwise specified.
Side Walker: Participants require side walkers while riding to ensure their optimal safety. This entails walking or jogging alongside the horse and rider for the duration of the class. A side walker's sole responsibility is for the safety of the rider and to provide physical, verbal and emotional support for them at the direction of the instructor. It is critical that side walkers keep from conversing with each other and the participant after the lesson begins. Some verbal prompting is encouraging and appropriate.
Pony Handler: Volunteers need to have basic horse knowledge to safely handle our program ponies. You will be responsible to retrieve them from their stall, handle them safely around out participants throught the lesson and return them to stall when finished. Our Ponies are specifically raised and trained for use in our program and currently used for groundwork and pet therapy.
Horsemanship Helper: You will need to have basic knowledge of horse parts, tack parts, how to groom and grooming tools, etc. Lesson Plans are planned in advance and detailed for you to present to our participants. You must feel comfortable and confident to teach these lessons to small groups of our special needs children and young adults in a classroom setting (held in our tackroom).
Non-Horsey Volunteer Opportunities
Please contact our program if you are interested in any of these areas.
Fundraising/Special Events: Interested individuals are welcome to join the Fundraising Committee and help the program to meet financial needs. The Fundraising Committee plans and executes the events done each year to raise money by contacting clubs that are interested in offering financial assistance, getting donations, contacting vendors and so on. Fundraisers are held several times throught each year so time commitment will vary.
Office/Computer Help: We can use help in the office with filing, thank you notes, brochures, etc. Please contact our program if you are interested. We would need help once or twice a month for an hour or two. Availbilty is flexible but must be arranged at a time or day that our Instructor or Board member is able to be present.
Public Relations/Marketing: Work to obtain more media coverage so Hearts and Hooves can have higher community awareness. Help to update the website and periodically take pictures of new horses or special events. Please contact our program if you're interested in helping here. Each of these duties MUST be pre-approved and authorized.
Arena/Facility: Please contact our program if you are interested in helping with this. Hearts and Hooves would not look as amazing as it does without the help of our “handy” volunteers to do repairs and upkeep our facility and trail. Occasionally, volunteers will also be needed to help clean our arena and facilities. Days and times are flexible and you would be notified in advance when we schedule these.