Starting an Equine Therapy Program: 4 Must Have Items

Inside RideAbility, an Equine-Assisted Therapy Program

How to grow a horse’s mane is certainly not a good deal of mystery. There is one item though that almost all horse owners have, that after I see it near a horse, I just cringe! I have a sudden urge to get it and throw it inside trash. It will completely destroy your horse’s mane and tail faster when compared to a hungry goat. What is it you may well ask? It’s a comb!

When nothing else eases pain or draws individuals with emotional troubles out of their shells, horses offer a glimmer a hope. Equine-assisted therapy and therapeutic riding programs are springing up around the country to bring the healing and rejuvenating power of horses to those who need it most. If you have considered entering this growing field, there are some considerations you must take to ensure safety and enjoyment for everyone involved. The right set of tools will get you started on the road to a successful equine therapy program. 


  • Experience and Patience


Without these, you will struggle to make connections and handle the daily pressures of running a therapeutic program. You should fully understand know the workings (both inside and outside) of horses and ponies. Experience within the mental health, physical therapy, or social work fields will also serve you well. Assistants, handlers and grooms with experience in these fields will be invaluable to your program. 


  • A Suitable Location


Simply having a barn and round pen on your property is not enough. You need the right location for a therapeutic program. It should be inviting and comfortable, and safety for riders and horses will always be paramount. Accessibility is a must for riders who use wheelchairs, walkers or other assistive devices. 


  • Risk Management Plan


Because your riders will have varying levels of ability, you want to consider any possible scenario in your risk management plan. Limit your liability by finding the right insurance coverage for the property, your business entity, the horses and riders. Horse insurance cost is minimal compared to putting your personal and business assets on the line. 


  • Bombproof Horses 


Not every horse is suited to a therapeutic program. In fact, almost all will fail the initial testing to get through. Horses must be absolutely bombproof. They will need to go through a serious of tests and desensitizing work to get ready for their new jobs. 

When you are getting started, you want to be prepared for what lies ahead and equip yourself with the proper tools for success. It’s a lot of work, but an equine therapy program can be a rewarding endeavor for the right person. 

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