Classic Equine Connection

Your Horse & Therapeutic Riding Programs.

Posted by Classic Equine Equipment Blog on Jun 8, 2022 2:00:00 PM

Is your horse close to retirement?  Is a therapeutic riding program a good option for him? Therapeutic riding programs may seem like an ideal option, but therapeutic horses need to possess a very special set of skills. Consider the following must-have characteristics. Calm TemperamentTherapeutic riding CEE blog

Above all else, therapeutic riding horses need to be calm and patient. They cannot be highly reactive or spooky, since this would put their riders at risk. They should be able to take strange and new situations in stride.


It is a common misconception that therapeutic riding horses have an easy job of just walking around. That’s not true. In fact, working as a therapeutic horse can be physically demanding, since the horse must compensate for unbalanced riders. Some horses are asked to trot or canter, and may carry riders who bounce against their backs. The horse must be sound and strong enough to work in multiple lessons per week.


Tolerance is a major factor in any therapeutic riding horse’s job. A good therapeutic riding horse will be tolerant of all sorts of different situations, from a rider playing games off of his back to being in close quarters with other horses and humans.

Therapeutic Riding Programs CEE Blog Focus

A therapeutic riding horse will be confronted with conflicting stimuli, and he needs to be focused enough to pay attention to the task at hand. For instance, a horse may need to carry a rider who has little control of his body. The rider may sway back and forth or thump his legs against the horse inadvertently. The horse needs to be stoic enough to ignore issues like rider imbalance, while still remaining sensitive and focused enough to recognize and obey the rider’s signals to move forward, stop, and turn.

 Therapeutic riding programs are always expanding. They typically include riding, driving, vaulting, emotional support, ect. Make sure you research which program will be the best match for your horse. 

Give the program director a call and ask about the process of donating and evaluating a horse. Many riding centers have intensive evaluation and training processes for their horses.

When donating your horse, make sure to find out what your responsibilities as the former owner will be, including what will happen if he doesn’t make that initial cut. You should also ask what options will be available when your horse can no longer be of service to the program.

If you don’t have an appropriate horse to donate to a therapeutic program, remember that there are many other ways to help support these programs. Donate money or volunteer your time to work with the horses and/or the riders. It’s a great feeling!

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