Pat Parelli says you must be “mentally, emotionally and physically fit” to handle horses. I would argue that many people who aren’t physically fit can do a lot with horses. To me the bottom line is energetics. The horse recognizes the energy in the person, and will respond to that.
I know what I’m about to write is probably controversial to many people. But I believe therapy horses need help.
Until our gelding Patches came to live with us, I didn’t know much about the horses in therapeutic riding programs. I thought they were doing a public service and that was great. Now I see remnants of that experience in our horse and have spent two years helping him get confident again. During the past two years, I’ve spoken to others who have either worked in such programs or who have horses from the programs and have also seen similar problems these horses suffer.
Horse trainers know that repetition is what gets a horse to learn something, and it is true with people too. We can’t learn to play the piano without doing scales, lots of them.