What Makes a Therapy Horse?

First off, contrary to some beliefs, therapy horses are not perfect. People in our industry our very aware that the perfect dream horses does not really exist; however, there are some pretty special equine partners out there that are ready to make a difference in the lives of so many.

Job Description

Therapy horses have to be used to being pulled out for lessons throughout the day. Unlike a lot of other horses, they aren’t able to do a long ride and rest for the remainder of the day. Often they have two to three lessons scattered throughout the day’s schedule. On top of that, they have to be used to different riders getting on their backs every day and having a variety of handlers tack and lead them. Therapy horses are commonly surrounded by a small army of people and are exposed to a variety of toys, props, noises, over the topline activity, etc. Not every horse can do this, but we sure do love and appreciate the ones that are ready, willing, and love their jobs.

What are we looking for?

Our program is currently on the look-out for some new equines to join our herd. Here is a small list of what we are hoping to find. We are open to some discussion on the size and age standards. 

~ Perfect age range for us (at the moment) is between 10 and 20 years old.
~ Size-wise we usually look for 14-15hh. We appreciate the stocky horses that can carry adult-sized riders, but we also enjoy having some narrower horses for our little riders. We are on the hunt for a Draft/Quarter Horse cross! 
~No major health problems or lameness issues.
~We aren’t usually picky about breeds of horses. It all depends on their background and temperament, but you won’t usually find any of the typically high-strung breeds on the property.  So far, we have had good luck with ranch and trail horses, and we have had a couple of retired three-day eventers work phenomenally with our clients.
~We appreciate horses that are versatile, solid, quiet, calm, tolerant, patient, good with people, able to accept a lot of sensory input (toys, noises, etc.), and not typically spooky.

How does it work?

We usually lease all of our horses from their owners. The horses are brought to the ranch for an assesment. Our equine manager and her team of staff and/or volunteers go through some steps to decide if we should accept the horse into the trial program. The horses than go through a 60-90 day trial in which they are exposed to what a day of lessons look like through mock lessons and one-on-one sessions with the horse team. From there, the horse may or may not graduate into becoming one of our prized therapy horses. All of our horses are well-taken care of and loved on daily.

Do you have a horse that you think might make a good therapy horse? Fill out the form below and let us know!