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View Full Version : therapy horses--what's more important? temperment or training?



suz
Jun. 17, 2009, 07:30 PM
i have a lovely mare here on trial for my foster son, who is mildly delayed developmentally--and functions at around seven years old. he also has some mild balance problems and his therpay riding lessons have been a huge success with him. i have a very sweet and gentle mare on trial for him to keep as a pet and a trail mount, but it appears she has had no training whatsoever- she doesn't have steering or a good whoa, but doesn't make a fuss over his doting on her or climbing on her. she is also a little big i think, i'd rather see him with a haflinger size pony myself, for the inevitable times he falls off of her. the big question here is, do i spend the money on getting her trained or try to find a shorter, better trained mount for him?
thanks, i don't want him to bond with her if i have to find him a different horse, so need to make up my mind soon!

Laurierace
Jun. 17, 2009, 07:34 PM
Temperment is head and shoulders the most important thing. That said, without some training there isn't a whole lot to do with the horse as obviously he can't teach the horse himself. If he is happy just hanging out with the horse while she learns her job that is ok I guess but it seems like it would be easier to find a horse with both.

goodhors
Jun. 17, 2009, 08:02 PM
Temperment is most important. If a horse is willing, kindly, TOLERANT, they can usually be taught whatever you need them to do.

Without the good temperment as your base, horse is not going to wait around for the learning needed to teach them the job you want done.

Even ignorant, the good tempered horse will try to work with you, AND probably has NO BAD HABITS from previous training to get undone.

Bad training is often hard to get around, unlearn, when horse has to be absolutely dependable in your situation of trusting him in this new job.

Go for the temperment over training, if trained horse does not have the greatest temperment to begin with. You can send the ignorant horse to be trained and spook-proofed to meet your son's needs. May take some time to get her really solid, but accepting, tolerant of weird things in personality is a huge help. You need a horse with a gold heart, to trust with your son. Mare sounds great from your description, they have already got a good relationship going. Those type are hard to find.

caper
Jun. 17, 2009, 08:07 PM
Usually the best therapy horses are the older well trained 'been there done it type'. Where my son learned to ride many of the horses had been around the world and back. Bombproof types that were fairly quiet.
You don't sound like you have the right match...best to not get attached.

birdsong
Jun. 17, 2009, 08:08 PM
Temperament without a doubt. The best trained horse in the world that is intolerant of a special needs person who might pat too hard...pull too hard...or sit with a poor seat and improper balance would be worthless for that person.
Yet one of those dear steddy eddies that can stand to be loved on continuously, practically pulled over when the rider mounts and never goes too fast even when the rider gives the wrong cue is worth his weight in diamonds.

chai
Jun. 17, 2009, 08:49 PM
I have been a volunteer in TR for twelve years and I am finally apprenticing to get my NARHA instructor certification. I agree with the others. Temperament is the key to a good therapy horse. If your foster son has bonded with the mare and she is kind, willing and gentle, it is well worth the money to invest in a good trainer because you're already halfway there if she is that nice.
You are doing such a wonderful thing for your foster son. I have seen miraculous things happen in TR.

Pookah
Jun. 18, 2009, 12:06 AM
Temperament is most important, but training is also critical--if you love this mare's temperament and are willing to invest in training her, sounds like a great situation! If you don't want to put $ and time into training her, I would keep looking.

Pookah
Jun. 18, 2009, 12:10 AM
BTW, very cool of you to be doing this for a foster son!!!

Whisper
Jun. 18, 2009, 12:47 AM
Temperament and *experience*. They don't need a lot of fancy training, but they should have a long history of toting kids around safely. Even the most tolerant greenie isn't suitable for a beginner, and especially not one who is disabled.

Woodland
Jun. 18, 2009, 01:11 AM
Temperment is head and shoulders the most important thing. That said, without some training there isn't a whole lot to do with the horse as obviously he can't teach the horse himself. If he is happy just hanging out with the horse while she learns her job that is ok I guess but it seems like it would be easier to find a horse with both.


:yes:

Thomas_1
Oct. 8, 2009, 12:12 PM
I don't see this as an "either or" at all.

Rather to ensure the child with special individual needs has a good experience, the horse needs to have a good temperament AND will be well trained and the appropriate size and type.

betsyk
Oct. 8, 2009, 01:36 PM
I'd give the same advice to the family of any child: get a horse they can get on and DO with, NOW. Kids don't want to wait a year or two years until their horse is appropriately trained for them - they want to ride TODAY. And if they're held back in their progress or their enjoyment by a horse with restrictions (any kind of restriction, and that includes those 30-year-old saints who really needed to retire 5 years ago) they're going to lose interest. If you really think this horse is something special and can make the investment long term, get the horse with the great temperament for yourself or another person in the family, invest in the training and wet saddle blankets it needs, and then pass it along to your son in a few years, after he's outgrown the horse you're going to find for him now that he can get on and ride today.

AnnaCrew
Oct. 8, 2009, 03:23 PM
Here in therapy riding programs horses are only used if they pass the temperament test, are highly traineable and also - i had not seen it mentioned before here - they must have specific gaits. If your son would have only mildly delayed development problems, that would not be so important but as he has also some balance problems, horse's gaits are really serious thing to check out.

I agree with said before - you must search for something like elderly school horse who is looking for retirement but still suitable for light work.

Here usually therapy horses are getting arthritis and getting lame on one side as they are ridden for hours on one side in indoor arenas - when they are retired, people are queuing up for adopting them as you get very well trained completely bombproof and still rideable companion horse cheap. Maybe it is worth to ask around at therapy riding centres in your area?

equineartworks
Oct. 9, 2009, 06:32 AM
Suz, you mention that he is currently enrolled in a EAT program? They would be my first stop. This horse is not suitable. If you ask them they may possibly help you in your search.

I agree with BetsyK, you need a saintly, retired and sound schoolie who has done it all and is beyond unflappable. :)


i have a lovely mare here on trial for my foster son, who is mildly delayed developmentally--and functions at around seven years old. he also has some mild balance problems and his therpay riding lessons have been a huge success with him. i have a very sweet and gentle mare on trial for him to keep as a pet and a trail mount, but it appears she has had no training whatsoever- she doesn't have steering or a good whoa, but doesn't make a fuss over his doting on her or climbing on her. she is also a little big i think, i'd rather see him with a haflinger size pony myself, for the inevitable times he falls off of her. the big question here is, do i spend the money on getting her trained or try to find a shorter, better trained mount for him?
thanks, i don't want him to bond with her if i have to find him a different horse, so need to make up my mind soon!