So You Want to Be a TROT Mentor?

What does it mean to be a TROT MENTOR?

Being a TROT MENTOR is more than just volunteering. It means providing advice, guidance, and teaching to individuals with disabilities. The concept of mentoring is simple, but successful implementation can be challenging. A document on disability issues posted by the American Psychological Association lists characteristics of effective mentoring to include “the ability and willingness to:

1. value the mentee as a person;

2. develop mutual trust and respect;

3. maintain confidentiality;

4. listen both to what is being said and how it is being said;

5. help the mentee solve his or her own problem, rather than give direction;

6. focus on the mentee’s development and resist the urge to produce a clone.”

What are some Characteristics of Excellent Mentors?

A mentee-mentor relationship entails work, commitment, and follow-through on both sides if it’s going to be successful. Consider the following traits to assess your mentoring skills and areas that you wish to develop to ensure that the mentoring you offer is effective and has lasting value.

1. Good listener/sounding board

2. Flexible

3. Value diversity of perspectives

4. Knowledgeable

5. Nonjudgmental

6. Able to give constructive feedback

7. Honest and candid

8. Able to network and find resources

9. Successful in career

10. Willing/able to devote time to developing others

11. Eager to learn

Do a self-assessment and know what you are offering to your mentee and what you expect of yourself.

1. What are my strengths as a mentor?

2. What are my challenges as a mentor?

3. In what ways can I compensate for my mentoring weaknesses (e.g., books, training, advice from good role model)?

So what do Mentors at TROT do?

A good mentor at TROT meets all of the qualifications above, plus

1. Make a commitment to a disabled rider.

a. That means you will be there each time the rider has an appointment scheduled.

b. That means being on time for your appointment with that rider

c. That means making yourself aware of the issues that the rider faces

d. That means meeting with the instructor and clinical director briefly weekly before the session. That means helping that rider reach goals. That means teaching and leading by example, not “doing things for” the rider

2. Conducting yourself in a way that presents a good role model

3. Being careful about grooming and dress, especially while at TROT

4. Showing a good work ethic to your mentee

5. Learning about what the mentee is required to do and becoming proficient yourself

a. That means learning how to communicate with horses as a means of learning human communication skills

b. That means learning how to handle horses in the manner taught at TROT

c. That means showing respect and care to those around you

Being a TROT MENTOR is one of the most rewarding things you will ever do.