Training Therapy Horses - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 16 Old 05-04-2013, 04:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Fargosgirl View Post
I am going to have to spend more time talking to my patron to see exactly what she wants. She definitely has very specific ideas about what she wants from a therapy horse, she has been involved with using horses for therapy for over 20 years. She has started 2 other therapy centers in other parts of the country that are still operating, she wanted to start one more and get it stable to operate without her before finally retiring. Her horsemanship background is vaulting, meaning she wants the horses comfortable with all sorts of ground work and people being all over them.

The horses she is considering are not young horses, they just haven't been used for anything because they have been waiting for homes in the local rescue. Many of them are very well adjusted to human contact and even accustomed to quite a bit of commotion, they just need jobs and time to learn their jobs. She hasn't applied for the grant to start the riding center yet and she wants to get the horses in training now, so I am assuming she plans on each horse having many months(possibly a year+) worth of training before trying to use them in therapy.
What I think is really not going to make much difference to the woman, but...

When I was breakin TBs for jump racing - I was often handed horses with plenty of handling on the ground, it would be take me a minimum of 6 weeks to correctly break these horses to the basics of racing... which I admit is quite basic... they learn how to go, turn and stop. The times I was handed an unhandled youngster it could easily take 8 - 12 weeks to get the job done... so that is already 3 months out of the year gone. While I understand those horses are not necessarily young - they are unhandled and bring baggage. You don't know what has happened with them previously and one could very well be a ticking time bomb.

You want these horses to be calm, confident and comfortable with every and all situations. A year... IMO may not be enough time to help these rescue horses become the special horse you need them to be. They will not have enough life experience to take the completely random and unpredictable behaviour they are going to receive without batting an eyelid. A good therapy horse is a special horse, with personalities and temperments that are worth their weight in gold. There is nothing wrong with having some young horses in the program to bring on, but to have a reputable, safe place for these riders I think you guys need to rethink your plan.

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post #12 of 16 Old 05-07-2013, 01:47 PM
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Like others have said, personality is a huge deciding factor. Very, very few horses are cut out for therapy. I can't think of many horses who could and would tolerate being a therapy horse.
That's not to say you couldn't find a backyard pet or outgrown pony that wouldn't work in your program. Some of the best horses we have at my center used to pull carts and had very little ground handling or riding experience before coming here.
But I would, obviously, evaluate their personalities before deciding to put a lot of work into them. I've seen prospects come and go even with training done by our instructors who just weren't right or wouldn't be happy in our program.

A horse is a mirror to your soul. And sometimes you may not like what you see. - Buck Brannaman
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post #13 of 16 Old 05-11-2013, 12:33 PM Thread Starter
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Location: New Mexico
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The rescue we are planning to work with usually has on hand 75-80 head of horses to choose from. The plan is to choose the horses with the right temperament and only try to train those. I have a series of "personality" and temperament tests I do before considering any horse for a particular job. I am not totally discounting older riding horses, but we are wanting to have as many horses as possible from the rescue included in the program.

I am a little disappointed, I asked two questions, none of you have answered, I have only been criticized for "not knowing what I'm doing"! Because none of you have met me or my backer you immediately assume we are new to horses, I guess. I admit I have very little experience with therapy horses. I trained a mini once to lead, lunge, and do an obstacle course with his handler in a wheel chair(less than two years, and he came from a severely abusive background) but that is the only experience I have had with therapy horses. The lady I will be working with has had over 20 years experience in equine therapy, she has definitely said that personality and temperament are the very first two factors to consider.

As the trainer I was wanting some idea of what specific exercises I need to know to teach a therapy horse. Even elderly "been there done that" riding horses surely need some specialized training for therapy, don't they?

What specific exercises does a horse need to know? Can you point me to some resources for people who train horses for therapy?

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post #14 of 16 Old 05-11-2013, 07:10 PM
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when I was on crutches my horses would freak when they saw me walk up to them. I mean Freak, would not come up for grain, hay , nothing.
also , get htem used to wheelchairs , braces, etc.
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post #15 of 16 Old 05-13-2013, 07:18 AM
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the one i am soon to volenteer look for these

Special Horses for Special People
RDA horses and ponies come from a variety of backgrounds and pathways:

Ex-pony club or horse club
High performance dressage horses
Rescued from abuse or neglect
RDA gives these lucky ponies and horses a new lease in life and career opportunities. They in return, offer total unconditional love. Itís a win-win situation for all!
Typical horses used in the program are:

owned (purchased or donated)
trialled for suitability before they are integrated into the RDA program
Horses undergo regular training and exercise to keep them:

fit and strong
in good mental health

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post #16 of 16 Old 05-13-2013, 07:27 AM
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