What makes a good therapeutic riding horse?
It’s all about temperament. The horse must be:
- “Bomb proof,” that is, not easily frightened by loud noises, sudden movements or strange-looking objects.
- Adaptable, able to adjust to new situations.
- The horse should have rhythmical movement and an even length of stride.
- In good health.
All breeds are acceptable. However, quieter breeds, such as Quarter horses, tend to be more suitable than more sensitive breeds, such as Thoroughbreds or Arabians. The horses can be any age, from about 6 to about 30. However, very young horses usually don’t have the maturity that is necessary to do this kind of work. It is good to have a variety of horses, so that there are a variety of sizes and ways of moving. For example:
- Ponies or small horses work well for small children, and larger horses work well for adults. Narrow horses are appropriate for riders with high muscle tone, while broader horses work well for those with low muscle tone, or poor balance.
- Horses with a lot of movement can help a rider stay focused, while horses with smoother movement are appropriate for riders with tight muscles.