Green broke 12 year old sweet horse for therapeutic riding?
I don't know if this is the best area to post this but I work at a Hippotherapy center. Currently they have 6 horses and are on the look-out for another one. I just read about a 12 year old mare that is said to be incredibly sweet and affectionate but has not been worked with or ridden in 6 years. I don't know any other details yet but wanted to see what you all thought before I went any further.
Can a horse that has basically been in a pasture with other horses for this many years be broken the rest of the way and made into a good therapy horse? She needs a good home and I have just the stall for her. I don't want to get in over my head if she is not the right horse for a situation like this.
If I go to look at her and see how she tolerates being groomed and lead, what other things can I do to test her and see what spooks her, what irks her, etc? What are your thoughts?
Is it better to get an older horse that has been ridden and handled more than to get a younger, (beautiful) horse that just has been out-to-pasture more? She sounds so lovely and with her disposition, I'm wondering if she would be a good fit.
Thanks for your help.
Of course she can!! The farm I board my horse at has 3 other horses that had not been touched in 6 or more years. after three months of work, You could hardly tell. One of the mares who was the wildest horse I have ever worked with (She is 34!!!! gosh shes old) is now ridden by my little 7 year old cousin. I would not trust another horse more then I trust her. I think you are good to go with this mare if you are willing to do some work with her:) Good luck, and by the way, What you are doing is amazing:) Its something to look up to. Good job:)
I'd be very leery of any green broke horse for therapy use. That's extra liability to be taking on. Even if she has an excellent disposition, she's still green. I wouldn't take the chance of finding that thing that spooks her or she's unsure about with a client on board. I have a couple greenies that are total sweethearts but I'd not chance putting a student on them because you just never know. I'd look for something with a little age and a lot of miles.
I think it would boil down to how much time and/or money the center or you would be willing to put in to train her appropriately for this position. How fast do they need to add another horse to their program? Proper training doesn't happen overnight.
I personally would be looking for a horse that is well trained, has the right disposition, has been well exposed and desensitized and can safely be used for its purpose now considering the responsibility the center has to its clients. That has to come first and foremost.
Having said that though, I know what it's like to see the potential in a horse that isn't quite there yet. Is it possible to get two and start her properly to take the place of another who will be retired in the future, or add her when the center expands again?
It depends on the horse, and they have to love their new job.. if their heart isn't into it then you have big problems. Basically all of the horses at our therapeutic riding center was green. We never had one accident.
I would be looking more for a "been there done that" horse that's already broke and has been consistently ridden. But at the same time, if you have the resources, time, and energy to put a few months into this mare before even considering using her, then try her out and see how her disposition is and how hard it would be to get her back into things.
Just because shes sweet and affectionate won't make her a hippotherapy horse. I'm no expert by any means, but I've been in the field long enough to know. Sure, she can be trained to nearly bomb-proof and love people, but will she be able to take a child thrashing and screaming on her back and giving off such a bad feeling of anxiety and fear? Can she stand there and take it calmly, or is it going to rub off on her and give her the same antsy feeling? Will she be able to take two riders for more hands-on therapy with a therapist on behind, or will she be able to tolerate the hands and knees position, side work, being crowded with people on either side stabilizing a child? All things to consider.
This being said, we've had horses come in from similar to worse situations, and become great therapy horses. But we've had the time and trainers who have worked with them until they were certain they'd trust a child on them. It takes an even more patient horse to tolerate the adults we give this service to. I'm not saying don't go for it and see what she can do, she may have potential, but don't trust that because shes 'sweet and affectionate' that she'll be a miracle worker.
Have somebody who's been in the program for a long time go see her and evaluate her. I understand you just started. (Good for you, by the way, I love the work I do and you probably will too :) )
Thanks, ladies! I appreciate your views. I had to laugh that the first reply was from a women who shares the same name as the horse in question (Hannah.)
I sent the information to the equine manager. She thinks the horse isn't right for their stable but she forwarded it to someone "higher up the chain." They have two horses there already that I feel are too risky for therapy horses but they use them for whatever reason. I know one of them is used because he has a unique gait but he and his partner like to pin back their ears and act threatening. One of them even nips! I will be interested to see them at work this Spring. Maybe then I can understand how they make it work with them.
The key to them is giving them to a handler who has the skill to handle them appropriately, and to keep a close eye on those kids and their little fingers. :lol:
If shes sweet and has the potential after shes broke to make a good horse, you should send on her info to an equine-assisted therapy program instead of a hippotherapy one. They need the mounts as badly as we do, and she sounds like she might make a good steed there after a while.
I can go off forever on my little rant of what makes a hippotherapy horse, but it tends to get me all revved up on the matter. I hate it when somebody brings in an old, broke horse with lameness issues or something, and thinks it'll be a super addition to hippotherapy 'because he's nice and won't spook at anything!' I understand they're trying to help, though, and that's always nice.
Edit: I'm not trying to sound like a bitter therapist on the whole matter, though! Please don't take anything I say that way. You can even PM me questions if you ever feel like it. :) Just thought I'd add this on as an afterthought.
That's part of the reason I thought this horse might be worth the time and effort it would take to break her the rest of the way. It seems that when they get horses who are older and broken down, they have to put them down that much sooner. I mean, on their website there is a page that says, "Meet our horses." Three of the six that are listed are no longer there anymore! (Updating their website is on my list of things I want to get involved in.) I thought it would be great to get a younger, healthy horse and build her into what she could be and make her into the perfect horse for therapy.
Someone (or several people) asked how soon she'd need to be used as a therapy horse. I mean, technically, we could work with her all year and not use her in the arena until next year! But that's my "anything is possible" take on the issue. ;)
I hope that the other lady who is now going to review the ad will be interested enough to want to at least go and assess her. I mean, if she can't be safely groomed or walked on a lead, then she might be too green for our facility. But I'd hate to miss-out on such a gorgeous mare with potential, who obviously needs to "get a life."
I don't know of any horse-assisted training places around here, but I could look. I mainly wanted her for myself. (Greedy woman that I am.) :)
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