I was wondering how many horses y'all have at your therapy center and about how many special needs children/ adults do y'all work with. What are some unique things you do with your kids, and what kind of horses are at your barn(breed, background, age, disposition, bought vs donated, etc.) I am a volunteer at therapeutic riding center and I believe we have too many horses of the wrong horses, but I am just wondering how many your programs require, and looking for new ideas and things to do with the kids.
We are old yet new in many ways, our director/owner of the property has been having inner city kids come out who mostly have some behavior problems and he's been teaching them horse skills and trail riding/parades. I just joined in and I'm working on getting our PATH certifications so we can expand our program.
Our trail/parade horses we have 10 and 3 trained therapy horses (mine horses I'm using for our new program) and I want to start working with some of the trail horses to be used in our trauma/PTSD therapy program.
We have 13 horses we keep 'in the program'. But, there not always the same 13. Just depends on the needs of the participant.
Our facility is a huge working cattle ranch~ so almost all of the horses are ranch horses. During the week they run cattle, on the weekends they are therapists.
It's been fun watching the change in the horses. Before the program, the horses were hard to catch because they knew it was a hard work day, but...now that they know kids are coming to see them...they pretty much put the halters on themselves!
And, it cracks me up that the volunteers can be working with the horses, and if the horses hears a kid...the horses can't even concentrate on what the volunteer is doing...horse is SO focused and excited about the approaching kids.
Lets see. Right now we have three therapy horses, three therapy ponies, and some miniatures who are strictly 'on-ground therapy horses.' I'll give you a small descriptition of each of them :) We did have four horses, but unfortunately she was PTS due to artheritis and weight loss last year at 29 years old.
We're running at about 18 kids from 18 months to 14 years, and 5 adult riders.
Registered 9 (I think?) year old, 15hh arabian mare.
Donated as a two year old with her sire (gelded) and dam as a potential lesson horse. She now serves as both!
Disposition: Would rather mosey along than really put effort into lessons, but very careful with her therapy students both big and small. Came to us very spooky and keyed up but she's pretty much unflappable now. She comes from a fairly large arabian breeding farm but her breeder was getting out of the business to retire and since she wasn't QUITE show quality, she came to us. We get a lot of flack for using an arabian in our program, but she's more levelheaded than our ponies!
13.2hh Quarter Pony mare.
Not registered as far as we know, and I think she's somewhere around 16.
Bought for $550 as a retraining project way back when. She was a real piece of work but now doubles as both a ranch horse and a lesson/therapy horse. She's a real tank so she can take some of our larger kids who are afraid of the 'horses' which is great. Very patient as well and she'd rather fall on her face than let her children slide off of her back.
14 year old unregistered ASB x Arabian mare. 14.3hh
Donated along side one other 'finished' mare as part of the deal. She failed as a broodmare prospect due so came to us. She's a complete dear but is unfortunately fairly severely duck footed in her left rear, which causes lameness problems when she's ridden hard. She's been a pasture puff for years and I just recently started introducing her to therapy, so she's technically not a therapy horse just yet...she's about 3 months into her 5 month training that I put them through to become a TH. I'm hoping she can hold up to do a few hours of walking with the kids every week. It will give the old fatty a job and she just loves kids. She's a real character though!
'Mutt' mare. 14 years old. 11.3 hh?
Donated to us as a four year old many years ago when we first started. She was a total brat back then but has since settled to become a real star. She's everyone's favorite and a great transition pony for the little ones who are too big for Cowboy but too small for the big horses. She doubles as a lesson and therapy pony. Apparently she's part of some guy's backyard breeding program where he came up with his own breed by mishmashing a bunch of pony breeds together and ending up with an always-grey 11-12hh pony. I'm not a fan of people doing that but he actually produced a very nice mare in Bella!
Registered shetland pony gelding. 18 years old I think. 44" tall.
Bought as a foundation of our therapy program back when we started out for $600. He's only used for children under 7 years old.
He's an absolute doll and the kiddos love him. He never refuses to work, he's never been lame, and he's probably the most versatile horse we have. He will ride in lessons, therapy, and is a finished cart horse, single or double. He's also shown, been to the rodeo, and been on therapy visits to the nursing home. Cowboy has a GIANT personality for his size and his favorite foods are fries and big red xD
I can't remember how old she is... 8? Registered Shetland pony mare.
Bought from someone with a little girl that just loved her, but had outgrown her for $200.
Therapy pony and lightly trained to cart (not finished).
She's probably the highest energy of our therapy animals and has a very active walk, which is good for the kids who's cores we are trying to strengthen. She loves the kids but really doesn't like adults xD
We have 10 ponies and horses in our program. All are for our program specifically- they don't have other jobs, although most of them do get ridden by staff and experienced volunteers for exercise and to keep them thinking.
Here's a quick run through of the horses:
Barney- 15ish year old Haflinger, about 13.2 hands. He was a backyard pony before he came to us.
Crunch- 18ish year old Paint/Arab cross, about 14.2 hands. He was a trail horse and then a pasture puff.
Silver- 14 year old Welsh pony, about 13.1 hands. He was a little boy's show pony before he joined us.
Toby- 26 year old Arabian, 14.2 hands exactly. He was a backyard horse
Jiminy- 25 year old Arabian, about 14 hands. He was also a backyard horse and not a very good one- he needs a job!
Stellar- 18ish year old Fjord, about 15.2 hands. He was apparently one of the world's worst eventers and crashed through most of the jumps because he was lazy :lol:
Odin- 19 year old Haflinger, about 14.1 hands. He was Amish raised and came to us at about 5 years old.
Pumpkin- 17ish year old Haflinger, about 13.1 hands. She was also Amish raised, but doesn't like pulling a cart. She came when she was 4 or so
Nate- 12 year old Haflinger, about 14.3 hands. He was totally green when he came to us at 7 years old... not broken under saddle at all.
Pippin- 15ish year old Percheron, about 15.3 hands. She was greenbroke and hadn't been ridden in a saddle before. She had been ridden bareback in parades. Her job used to be to pull logs.
I believe most of our horses were donated to us for a tax deduction, which is possible because we're a nonprofit. We occasionally buy a horse if we're sure they're going to be really good in the program.
All of our horses go through extensive training... we make sure they're comfortable on all parts of our property, comfortable with the riders playing basketball or catch, comfortable with the ramp and with sidewalkers, therapists and leaders and more. Most of the time, the horses are in training for a month or more before they are fully introduced into our program and given a full workload. If they need more time, we try not to rush it.
We have about 150 riders that come throughout the week. They range from age 2 all the way up. We offer hippotherapy and therapeutic riding. The hippotherapy clients do alternative positions if they can, such as around the world, hands and knees, high kneel and standing. We also have magnetic dartboards and hair clips so they can work on their fine motor skills. We have a basketball hoop and some soft balls to play with. We have 2 jolly balls hanging from the rafters that the kids can hit. For our therapeutic riding clients, we usually have them steer through an obstacle course that we make from cones and poles, do some trotting and work on their posting/2 point and we often play a game such as red light green light.
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