How to train a therapy pony

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PrettyPonies

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I have my 2 month old colt that I would love to train to become a therapy pony to visit nursing homes and children's hospitals. I have been working with him to be ok with getting touched all over, walk on different surfaces, and to be ok with loud/surprise noises. What else should I do to train him, and does he have to be certified to be a therapy pony? If so what do I have to do to get him to get him certified? Thanks in advance!!
 

MaryFlora

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He’s precious and you are doing a lot to help him adjust to this noisy world! Do you have a goal in mind in terms of what age you’d like to start him working? I do think the more time they have to play and be babies the better. Not run wild but time to absorb life around them and mature.

Chief is a total cutie, it is hard to tell from a photo but he seems the easy going sort! You know he will be a big hit when the time comes!
 

PrettyPonies

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Thank you!! He is very precious and so inquisitive about everything. He has quite the snuggly sweet personality and some spunk! 😂 He got to meet his first toddle today and loved him!! I’m not sure when I want to start him working… I just want to see how he matures and let him enjoy being a baby growing up. I was curious when most people typically start them tho…
 

Standards Equine

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Our experience with becoming a therapy pony happened quite by accident. Our mini, Jasmine, is approximately 4 years old now. We got her last August. We found that she is very friendly, very confident and a quick learner. She is super tolerant to people and objects/equipment like carts and wheelbarrows. She will kick other horses and ponies if she feels they're too close to her and don't move. So that gave me some concern.
We started out with taking her to a horse show, and then a greenhouse - the town was having a "farmer days" and we were invited... anyways, she was fantastic walking through the indoor store and greenhouse rows and meeting people. Following that, we were invited to our local long-term care facility and she was a rockstar.
I don't know that our Jasmine has ever had much exposure to noises or surfaces - although that definitely wouldn't hurt the training!!! She just has it in her to be a rockstar tolerant pony.
I intend to further her exposure by taking her to a Petsmart and learning to load in the backseat of my truck so I don't have to take the trailer out all the time.
We are currently on a waiting list for animal-assisted therapy evaluation and certification. At that time, we'll be able to offer more specialized services rather than just site visits.
Check with your local facilities though, find out what they require to have animal visitors. I know going into the hospital is much more involved than going into long-term care, but I'm not sure why.
Anyways, best wishes to you, thank you for what you're doing and please keep us updated with your successes!
 

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Marn4

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I was thinking of doing this as well, I worry mine is a little to nervous to do it but still looking into it to see if maybe he could. Standard Equine yours looks so amazing, what a trooper. PrettyPonies your mini is darling!!
 

Standards Equine

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Thank you @Marn4 She's the best $50 Kijiji (equivalent to Craig's List if you're not familiar) find ever! She speaks to my heart about all the ones who have so much to give if they're just given a chance. Maybe that's for another thread. My other major horse, Jose Jalapeno, is a Standardbred gelding who wouldn't pace so couldn't race. He was bound for dog food. I bought him for $400 (this is all Canadian dollars!!) and he's the biggest superstar ever. He just does everything I ask of him and learned so many tricks. If you check out my website, you'll see loads of him www.standardsequine.com

Anyways, thank you @PrettyPonies for sharing the gift of your little cutieface!
 

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PrettyPonies

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That’s so neat!! I have been trick training my standard size gelding and it is so fun!! I love what you teach a horse when you have that special connection with them!! My big Boy Scout and Chief are best buddies :)

Your boy is gorgeous!! What a handsome boy!A16F278A-6B02-4574-ADE5-6B6E3AE4ADD5.pngE119C622-9391-476B-B628-24A3154E6EFF.png
 

PrettyPonies

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He loved it! Everyone at work has been dying to meet him, one of our surgery techs got a hug from him after a stressful/long surgery day :) Even with all his spunk, I definitely think he’ll be a good therapy pony as he loves hugs and can be quite patient (for such a young guy! :p)

haha it’s my moms van xD It was easier for Chief to load up in than my car
 

Standards Equine

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Good for you!!! Jasmine went out last weekend for a visit to second floor that we didn't get to have last time we were out. She was not happy in the elevator this time, also Ali was writing finals and couldn't be with us. But the residents were thrilled. My dad passed away June 10, it was not sudden, he was declining and suffering, but still very sad. Taking her in to visit and see the smiles made me feel so much better. Very comforting. Too bad fuel costs so much right now and the travel back and forth is roughly 3 hours all said and done. Otherwise, I'd love to be there far more often.
We met with the volunteer coordinator and had our pictures taken for our volunteer IDs - yes, Jasmine will have her own ID badge too!
 

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Marn4

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Good for you!!! Jasmine went out last weekend for a visit to second floor that we didn't get to have last time we were out. She was not happy in the elevator this time, also Ali was writing finals and couldn't be with us. But the residents were thrilled. My dad passed away June 10, it was not sudden, he was declining and suffering, but still very sad. Taking her in to visit and see the smiles made me feel so much better. Very comforting. Too bad fuel costs so much right now and the travel back and forth is roughly 3 hours all said and done. Otherwise, I'd love to be there far more often.
We met with the volunteer coordinator and had our pictures taken for our volunteer IDs - yes, Jasmine will have her own ID badge too!
I am so sorry to hear about your Dad, what a wonderful way to give. I would love to do this with Rocket, just don't really know where to start, doing a lot of research. Go Jasmine!!
 

Kelly

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So sorry to hear about your dad Standards E, my heart goes out to you.

Chief is a cutie for sure! Good for you for taking him out and about. I am sure he is LOVING it 💕💕

Stormy has visited nursing homes too. The places around here don’t require a certificate or any special training. They just have to be a really special horse. Not all horses have the personality to be a therapy horse, take Thunder for example, he is my tiniest but his is a one woman type horse meaning he isn’t a big fan of people 🤣🤣 Stormy on the other hand will fall asleep in the peoples lap.

8C0BD8D6-BABE-4647-AFA2-B71005C379BD.jpeg

For training I take them inside as many stores I can: Petco, Target, Tractor Supply, Kohl’s, Home Depot, Lowes… anywhere I possibly can, we haven’t got kicked out yet 🤣🤣

I probably won’t start taking my new baby Nova out and about until she is 6-8 months old, if she is ready and I am thinking she will be. I’ll start her going out with another horse friend at first then eventually I will take her out alone.

ETA: I started by calling up my local nursing home and told them what I wanted to do. They were excited to have us!
 

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