What Makes a Good Therapy Horse? - from The Horse March 2006 Article 6641
Thank you for considering donating a horse to We Can Ride! The generosity of our horse donors is what has kept our herds well stocked with excellent therapy partners since 1982. We Can Ride accepts horse donations at all of our facilities. All WCR sites offer pasture turnout, stall access in case of injury or other circumstances, shelters, fresh water, hay, grain and supplemenets when needed, safe fencing, regular farrier/vet care, as well as management by knowledgeable and qualified staff and trained volunteers.
What will my horse be doing at WCR? Horses work in a therapy setting anywhere between 1-6 days a week (site dependant) where they are typically in a "lead-line" scenario with either 1 or 2 sidewalkers alongside a mounted rider. Riders with disabilities have many challenges that the "able bodied" horse community doesn't have, and each horse fits a need, from movement to temperment to build! Most importantly, therapy horses must be calm, comfortable with unpredictable situations, comfortable in tight quarters with humans, and very sound.
A word on unsoundness: While horses in the therapy world are not always young, spry, or appropriate for a traditional performance career, their soundness is extremely important. A horse's sound, symmetical gait has the power to teach the human body to walk and the human brain to organize. A horse who is lame is a liability - pain or inconsistency in movement can cause a horse to act unpredictably. A stumble from a horse in a therapy session can unseat a special needs rider in the blink of an eye. We Can Ride will not accept a horse who is not sound at walk, trot, and canter.
How do I do this? Donating a horse to We Can Ride is a multi-step process. It begins with an interview between the barn manager and the horse owner. If the horse meets the initial criteria, and if We Can Ride is currently looking for horses, then it moves on to an onsite evaluation. If the horse fits what we are looking for, then the horse is accepted on a trial basis. Owners are responsible for transporting the horse to the We Can Ride site, and also responsible for retrieving the horse if the trial is unsuccessful. If the horse shows signs that she will be successful in therapy work during the trial period, then it is accepted and becomes part of the We Can Ride program. The horse helps with our classes until it becomes time for the horse to retire from work. At that point, we contact the original donor of the horse to see if they are interested in having the horse back. If not, we then proceed to find a good home for the horse elsewhere, often times with a volunteer in our program.
What are we looking for? Here are some ideal traits:
Interested parties should: