There’s no doubt horses used for equine therapy Virginia or anywhere else have made life-changing differences in many people’s lives.
However, training a horse for equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP) can be a long and arduous process to be able to maximize the horse’s capabilities in carrying out its job.
An equestrian therapy program is not just a single process; rather it is a complex program of activities and approaches that can be customized to fit the corresponding treatment profile of a patient.
Therapy horses are trained differently from an average riding horse since they perform very special tasks which can expose them to crowded spaces, a vast number of people touching them, unusual travel paths or routes, and other situations that could spook a normal horse.
Therapy horses need to be well-behaved, patient and calm in any situation or location they are in.
Finding the ideal horse
Horses also have their unique traits and personalities, much in the same way that while there are those that are naturally calm, patient and well-behaved, there are those with short tolerance limits and often freak out.
Having the right horse that possesses these positive temperamental attributes are ideal for training as therapy horses.
Find a professional
Not everyone is skilled at training horses, especially those that will be used for an equine therapy Virginia program, so having a professional to train the horse is the best way to go.
Training a therapy horse requires experience and expertise, so having a professional trainer to do it is not an option. You may be able to take over the reins once the training foundations have been set in place and all you need to do is a follow-through on the process.
Make sure to start with the basics
Once the therapy horse has been prepped for training, it is vital to ensure that all the basic skills are considered and applied.
These are basic good horse manners, basic commands, and basic lead work. While skills may vary from horse to horse, training never stops and continues all throughout its lifetime, since horses need constant reminders and refreshing after learning a skill.
Remember that just like humans, there are horses that are easily taught and there are those that take more time.
Take the different horse levels to heart
Due to the dynamic and broad applications of horse therapy, horses need to advance through various stages in terms of visit hours, training periods, and levels of difficulty.
There are basically four levels of registration, where the therapy horse starts with shorter visit hours, then gradually moves up the levels to provide quality therapeutic services. Consult an expert regarding these levels to avoid untoward incidents or cause complications caused by incorrect training procedures.