Choosing a Horse for Your Program

Horses are the lifeblood of our programs. Without the horse, therapeutic riding does not exist. So how do we make sure we are choosing the right horse? First, we need to identify the individual needs of our center. This includes looking at strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities. After we do that, we can start discussing how to choose a horse.

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Immediate Feedback Machines

I attended the PATH International Conference last October and one session that has stuck with me is the idea of the horse as an immediate feedback machine. I wrote about this briefly here in my post on “Why Horses?”

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Animal Scavenger Hunt

What You Need:
-Various animals (toys or stuffed animals)
-Animal signs or cards
-Animal noise sounds or animal fur/hair (optional)

Here’s another fun game to play with riders that can be adjusted for any level of rider and can be played multiple weeks in a row with a few tweaks. First, pick your animals. I usually do a theme like “farm animals” or “forest animals.”

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Obstacle Courses

What You Need:
Poles

Cones
Barrels
Cavaletti
Anything your heart desires!

I love obstacle courses. They are so versatile and help keep riders engaged. I usually do obstacle courses every 8-10 weeks with my riders, if not more often. You can adjust a course to be whatever you want, which is why I like them so much. My center doesn’t have as many toys and goodies as some other centers and we are still able to put together a great obstacle course.

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ESMHL Workshop

Hello cowboys and cowgirls! I have some exciting news to share with you! Recently, I went to a workshop to start the process for my ESMHL Certification. ESMHL stands for Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning. Once I finish my certification, it gives me the ability to run EAAT (equine-assisted activities and therapy) sessions in partnership with an educator and/or mental health professional.

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Red Light, Green Light

What You Need:
A Loud Voice
Colored Cue Cards (optional)

This is a game that can be played in a private, semi-private, or group lesson. It works best for younger riders, but you can make it more advanced to appeal to older riders.

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