Therapeutic riding horses are the heart and soul of our program and take on the role of friend, teacher, confidante, and therapist.Equine assisted therapy provides the unique healing power of connection - an unspoken communication between horse and rider as clients groom and care for the horses in preparation for participation in our programs.
The Therapy Horse must be patient, sound in wind and limb, quiet and have good conformation. They are trained to the aids like any school or show horse. They can be of any size, breed, sex or age although some breeds have better quality gaits than others. This is especially necessary for hippotherapy. Older horses have more experience than younger ones, although they all have to be introduced to special equipment, both the rider’s as well as those used for classes. Eg. Wheelchairs, crutches, beanbags, balls, barrels, poles, flags, swords etc. The length of training depends on the horse and his level of fitness and the duties he will be performing. We have horses and miniature horses varying in age and size in our program, all at various stages of training. They have all attended horse shows both with volunteers and with our riders with disabilities, in local, regional and provincial shows and Fall Fairs. They have participated in a number of local events, giving demonstrations and/or pony rides to raise money and public awareness for the program.
Our therapy horses receive many hours of extensive training and schooling by our nationally certified coach. This includes their ground work such as lunging, leading, becoming accustomed to our riders’ assistant devices, games equipment, trail riding and showing. They are trained for both English and Western disciplines, as well as for driving. Some of our horses have been in our program for over 10 years, and their value increases as their training continues. Initially, the horses for the program were donated from our farm, Rainbow Stables. As time went on, others were donated from private owners, purchased, or adopted from the Ontario Standardbred Adoption Society.