I have volunteered at a therapy riding center for 7 years now and the number one priority is safety. The center I am at is not PATH certified, and in my opinion they should be. PATH sets standards and regulations for safety that otherwise is up to the instructor or whoever is in charge, which can be perfectly fine most of the time, but not always. I think being PATH certified just shows the public that the center is professional, willing to be held accountable for the safety and teaching of the special needs individuals, not just a few people leading kids around in their backyard.
1. Very, very calm broke horses.
2. Experienced handlers of appropriate age(a twelve year old child or an inexperienced handler should not be responsible for the safety of your child.)
3.condition of the facilities- are they safe? Are they clean?
4. Condition of horses
5. Progress of the children
Talk to the volunteers!!! Ask them about their experience, other volunteers, the kids, how therapy helps them, care for the horses, if they know of problems with the center. A volutneer is more likely to be honest with you than the owner of the barn. Ask the parents of the kids and what they think of the center. Get a tour. Just do your research. I have seen some amazing centers with fantastic results, and I have seen stressful, dangerous accidents waiting to happen. Just choose wisely.
Its a lot like nuts and bolts. if the riders nuts, the horse bolts -Nicholas Evans