Is anyone involved with therapy riding? I'd like to know what qualifies a horse as a therapy horse. How "hard" are they used? Any info would be very much appreciated.
I have volunteered with our hospitals equine therapy program and these horses have extensive training. They are desensitized to EVERYTHING. Balls pom pons hula hoops gosh I cant even begin to tell you all of the things they use on and around these horses. They play catch with the kids turned backwards so balls are hitting them in the butt, legs ect. They go over poles around cones. These horses are also used as lesson horses in a riding program. They are very been there done that. Our therapy program only runs for 6 weeks in the fall and spring. So as far as being used as therapy horses they are not used hard. As lesson horses they are. These horses are amazing and the lady that does all of their training is amazing too with what she has done.
Oh and all of these horses are ridden saddleless and led with lead ropes.
Therapy horses really amaze me. Really the only qualification is that they are really well broke. I have been volenteering at a therapy stable for a year now and the work they do is incredible. Not all programs use there horses in acctual riding lessons though. Some facilities, like the one I work at, has patients that are physically unable to learn how to ride the proper way. They basically come down to the barn and are led around. It helps them with certain skills they need to strengthen. But there are mirrors and toys in the arena so the horses must be ajusted to that sort of thing. And no, they really aren't worked to hard. Our program runs year round and the horses usually do one or two rides a day. Not too bad seeing that they only walk. The instructor at mine sometimes throws me on one of the ponies and they're such marshmallows. It takes all your effort to just get them to trot let alone canter. Nopt that all therapy horses are like that but all the ones I've jumped on are. =D
I've worked with a couple of therapy places, and the horses are not worked hard (at least where I volunteered). They really only ever walk, and usually just a couple of hours a day or every other day.
The qualifications for a therapy horse are usually ultimate bombproofness and patience.
Why do you ask? I noticed you have the thumbs down icon attached.
Yeah, that's throwing me off.:|
I have a friend who volunteers at one. The horses are great, but not as desentized as they should be. One of them threw a kid off on a trail. [They are led just like they are in a ring on trails.] They are never ridden normally at this facility, and she's trying to ride one of the horses but since she doesn't know anything about training horses, she's not having much luck. He's very bad and tries to roll with her. :\
I'm inquiring because there may be some very major changes in my life and I'm looking at all the options that may be available for my horses. :-( Decisions do not have to be made asap, but I've never been one to leave things for the last minute.
I thought T would probably make a good therapy horse and will be calling a facility a few towns over that offer that to find out what they look for. Of course, if she qualifies, I would be donating her. Walka, well he's going to be another story.
LOL! I was wondering why it was that icon :lol:
The facility should have an evaluation for your horse to tell if he/she would be good for it.
I'm sorry about the changes that might cause you to have to find new homes for your horses :(
I have been involved with an equine therapy center since 2001. Started as a volunteer and transitioned into a therapy riding instructor and taught for 7 years. The horses were treated like gold as their jobs are so important as thereapists to our many clients. Our horses work a max of 2-3 classes per day (20-30 minutes for each class) and were given a full week off every 6-7 weeks. They also had a full month off in the summertime. We paid attention to weather (never worked classes in too cold or too warm of weather).
Our horses went through a preliminary trial period of 45 days where staff only worked with the horses and they were gradually introduced into the classes typically with staff leading and riding during the classes.
They have to be able to tolerate a lot. Each rider is different and some don't sit still very well on the horse. They have to tolerate a lot of unfamiliar things that we use during the class (balls, toys, bean bags, rings...) They should also handle a child throwing some of these items to a target such as a bucket or basket and as you can imagine they might catch a stray toss in the back of the head.
They are evaluated on their response and behavior to a lot of situations. If you have questions or are considering donating your horse I would recommend somewhat getting involved in the center you are considering. Or at least paying a few visits to the center. Hope this helps.
I volunteer at a theraputic riding barn about ten minutes from my house and they treat the horses like gold. The are only used in a max of two lessons a day, so they aren't worked too hard. We looked into it before we found a leaser for Ace. They wouldn't take him though becase he has uvietus :/ If you horse is in good health and pretty bomb proof you should have no trouble fiding a therapy place to take him. Some, at least the one I go to, will lease the horse for two years and then give then back or renew the lease. Maybe that could be an option incase your situation changes? I'm sorry you might have to give up your horse, hopefully you can find them both a good home!
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