About Our Equines

  • Brown and white horse wearing a Santa hat surrounded by a group of students

    Working in the MGH riding program is a mentally and physically challenging job for horses. A great therapy horse is sound at the walk, trot and canter. The quality of the horse’s movement is what benefits the participant the most. We utilize a wide range of input or movement from our horses. With some of our students, it is preferred that the horse have a low amount of movement as the students learn to ride and acquire a proper seat. In other cases, a more exaggerated movement is needed to stimulate a rider and meet the student’s sensory needs.

    When looking for new additions to the herd, there are certain criteria that must be met prior to the horse being purchased/donated. The horse should be proficient with both voice and leg signals, as well as quiet and well-mannered on the ground. Horses need to accept a wide range of input from a rider as well as tools or props, for example: pool noodles, balls, or other items that move or make noise. The horse has to be accepting of one or two people walking and trotting beside it as well as unbalanced riders. Finally, they must display “therapy heart” and show enjoyment in their work. If the horse meets all of these criteria, we ask for the minimum of a 30-day trial to determine if they are truly a good match for the program.

    If your feel your horse has a therapy heart and can excel in making a difference in our amazing students' lives, we would love to hear from you! Please review the following list to help determine if your equine is a good candidate.

    What we look for in a therapy horse:

    • Must be between the ages of 4-20 and be between 12-15.3 hands high
    • Must have a current Negative Coggins, be up-to-date on vaccines, and be up-to-date on deworming
    • Must be tolerant, calm, and even-tempered 
    • Must be sound at walk, trot, and canter
    • Must have impeccable ground manners and respect for a leader's personal space
    • Must tie and stand quietly
    • Must not be gaited (a horse that is gaited doesn't provide the input to the rider that we need for Hippotherapy)
    • Must not have any dangerous habits (i.e. buck, kick, bite, bolt, rear)

    Please contact our Equine Specialist, Michelle Staeck, at 256-761-3364 (office) or email staeck.michelle@aidb.org.