Riding for the disabled

Ecuador (E20) | View map
£233 p.w.

Price is based on 3 months
1 month

Volunteer with rescue horses, providing riding therapy to disabled children

  • Volunteer to increase the capacity of this small community based programme
  • Work with children with disabilities in a riding for the disabled project
  • Learn about hippotherapy while improving your Spanish and volunteering
  • A stunning setting with riding available on the edge of Quito
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Project summary

The project is perfect for anyone with an interest in horses, riding and working with the disabled abroad. The project leader is very knowledgeable on the science and benefits of riding therapy and is writing a book on the subject. The hope is to establish more centres across Ecuador.

The stables are located on the corner of a lovely and extensive 600 acre park. Most of the horses are rescue horses. The therapy takes place in the park, in a shaded glade.

Up to thirty disabled children attend each morning, arriving individually with their parents or in groups from the blind and disabled schools. Some children are severely disabled and need complete support and guidance, others are more independent.

Often the parents are very anxious; riding horses is not widespread and is inaccessible to poorer families. The children however love it and are predictably enthusiastic and cheerful throughout the experience.

The children are taken on lead rein, given laps of the riding area. Through a relationship with horses, the unique stimulation of the nervous system that riding provides and the sheer pleasure of riding, many of the disabilities are improved over a short period of time.

There is usually only one local to lead rein and this means the number of places is limited and children have to wait a long time to ride. Volunteers immediately double the capacity, meaning more places are scheduled during a volunteer placement and the children are riding more quickly.

This is suitable for all volunteers with experience of horses.

Volunteer roles and responsibilities

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The day starts early with mucking out the horses and taking them from the stables to their grazing. Those that are going to be ridden during the day are then tacked up.

Volunteers help the children on/off the horses, lead the horses, ensure the children are riding safely, engage and communicate with the children throughout, and reassure those parents who are more nervous of the experience.

There are normally queues of people waiting for assistance, so you will be busy! It is not about teaching the children to ride but more about the relationship that can be established between them and the horses. This relationship and the stimulation of being on a wonderful animal can be extremely beneficial to the children.

The riding finishes around 1pm and the horses are rested. Lunch can be taken with the family that runs the project

If you establish the trust of the project leader, it is possible to ride out in the park in the afternoons

How you can make a difference

The project is sustainable without volunteers, but only at a very basic level. With no funding other than from private donations, the centre cannot afford to hire more people.

Having a volunteer allows the project leader to arrange more places for children and groups. Volunteers therefore significantly increase the capacity of the project.

What is distinctive about this project:

Situated in a beautiful, tranquil location on the outskirts of Quito, this is a rare opportunity to work with a riding for the disabled centre in Ecuador. The horses are wonderful; the work and benefit to the children is fulfilling.

Blue Tiger Features:

This is a project that is suited to someone who enjoys working with both horses and children. You may be the only volunteer there, working with a small number of local staff, so you need to be happy and confident to act independently and take the most from the wonderful opportunity in front of you.

Building trust with the project leader will offer you the opportunity to ride out in the afternoons and get involved with more of the stable management duties.


The centre is open all year round


It Is not essential to know Spanish but the project leader has minimal knowledge of English. Volunteers will therefore benefit from our two week intensive language course prior to beginning work.

Experience required:

Volunteers will be dealing with horses throughout, including being responsible for them with a child on their back. Volunteers must therefore have experience managing and being around horses.

Experience of working with disabled children may be a benefit to the children but is not essential to the role.

Good to know:

Quito is at altitude and you will be working on your feet for most the day, so it is hard work and volunteers should be reasonably fit.

Your early finish means that you have leisure time to relax in the afternoons. Weekends are free to enjoy other parts of this exciting country.

Price table

4 weeks8 weeks12 weeks16 weeks

Includes: Comprehensive travel insurance (supplements may apply to older travellers). Accommodation, food, airport transfer, travel to projects, in-country support, welcome meal and up to 2 weeks of high quality 121 Spanish tuition.
Excludes: Flights, visas, vaccinations

Things to see and do

  • Visit the Amazon rainforest
  • Downhill mountain-biking in Cotopaxi
  • Go Wild in Banos
  • Visit the Galapagos
  • Straddle the equator
Monika Montes

Country co-ordinator

Monika Montes

Monika is superbly connected throughout Ecuador and has been working with Outreach International since 2003. She lives with her two teenage children in central Quito and plays host to many of our volunteers who work in the city. Monika’s passion for volunteering is reflected in her commitment and level of support that she provides. She speaks fluent English and is a qualified Spanish tutor.

About Ecuador