It takes a horse with special qualities to be awarded the title of “Pegasus Therapy Horse.” First and foremost, a pleasant and easy going temperament and quiet attitude is a must. This is not something that can be taught at our facility. It must come naturally to the horse.

A therapy horse can be asked to work for up to six hours of lessons per day, four days per week (although our horses normally work a max of three hours per day). In any given one-hour lesson they may work at a fast paced walk or consistent trot, stopping & starting a lot & a few are even asked to canter.

Therapy horses must tolerate being crowded by groups of people (rider, two side walkers, leader & instructor); unsteady riders who may inadvertently pull on the reins, lots of noise & action all around them, being groomed several times a day with various riders & volunteers touching & leaning all over them. Therapy Horses may carry riders who are unable to mount from the ground & need assistance at the mounting ramp. This process involves fitting the horse tight between two stationary objects (block & ramp) with an unstable rider & 2-3 people assisting. Most important to the riders, therapy horses are asked to play games such as basketball, bean bag tossing, obstacle courses both in & outdoors, amongst other hands on activities. All this can be frightening to a horse that is not properly trained or has experience.

We match each of our riders to the therapy horse that best fits their riding needs. Each of our horses has their own personalities, movements & strengths. We have utilized many different breeds of horses in our program. We use the movement of the horse as a teaching tool, so it is imperative that our horses are not limping, short stepping, tripping or lame in any way (ALL our horses MUST be serviceable sound). To a person who has never walked before, the motion of a walking horse can stimulate a walking movement in the riders hips while they are mounted.

The horse’s gait is very important to consider when pairing a rider also. A rider who needs more stimulation will benefit most from a horse with a choppier stride. Riders who are tense or prone to seizures benefit most from a smooth gaited ride.

Even the horses frame is taken into consideration. Narrow horses are good for riders who have limited mobility and range of motion with their legs. A wide based horse is good for riders who need a larger base for balance.

While we greatly appreciate all horses that are offered to us, there are those horses that are simply too old, too young, too spooky, too slow, or simply not a great match for our program. Our “ideal” therapy horse (although exceptions may be considered) criteria are as follows:

Pegasus Project Horse Criteria:

  •  Preferably 7-18 years of age.
  • Gelding or mare.
  • Show or pony club experience preferred. With our limited time & resources, we do not have the ability to train a horse from the ground up, we will only provide training specific to therapeutic needs.
  • Comfortable in arena and on trail.
  • Have current veterinary records available.
  • Be up-to-date on all vaccines and worming.
  • Serviceable sound.
  • Have been shod or trimmed ten (10) days prior or less.
  • Displays even temperament and predictability.
  • Can be ridden and led with people on both sides.
  • Be able to support a rider up to 200 pounds.
  • Obeys voice commands in all gaits.
  • Lunges through all gaits going both directions.
  • Is able to accept strange noises on and around them.
  • Performs smooth transitions being led, lunged and ridden.
  • Accepts special therapy equipment.
  • Can work independently with riders, as well as with assistance.
  • Respects people on ground around them.

We cannot accept horses that have chronic health issues such as hock problems, back pain, loss of vision, etc. or behaviors that bear a potential danger to our program.

In addition, we have a well defined eight week trial program that all potential horses go through. If the horse performs successfully then we accept them into the program and provide them with a loving, healthy working environment to call home. Those that are not suited for our needs will be asked to be returned to donor with many thanks.

For additional information please call Jene Pleger at 965-6990 or email [email protected]

**Care-leases are an excellent option for our program, and we have a well defined lease contract!

If you have scheduled a First Assessment with us for your horse, please fill out the following Horse Profile form and bring it with you. Thank you!

Horse Profile