As a horse person, you know the therapeutic benefits available simply by being in a horse’s presence. Mini horses make ideal partners for providing therapy services of all kinds from one-on-one to group sessions, at the farm or out in the public. Here’s a look at the different ways therapy minis provide physical and emotional support.
Therapy horse: The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) defines therapy animals as “a type of animal-assisted intervention in which there is a goal.” Therapy animals interact in one-on-one or group settings. Mini horses serving in this capacity visit schools, hospitals, hospice programs, and with families, veterans, and first responders who have experienced traumatic events.
Typically, horse owners interested in offering therapy animal services own the horses and travel to sites for interaction or invite groups out to the barn.
Emotional support horse: Generally speaking, an emotional support animal is owned by an individual and is part of a plan created by a physician, psychiatrist or other mental health professional based upon a disability-related need. Unlike therapy or service animals, emotional support animals are not required to complete training or perform a task—they are simply there to offer emotional support.
Service horse: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development defines assistance animals as “Any animal that works, provides assistance, or performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability,” as defined by the ADA.”
“The most important thing is the relationship you have with your minis and knowing what will work best for them,” said Carrie Brady, owner of Possibilities Farm. “If you understand each other well and your mini likes this kind of work then you both will love the experience, along with everyone you meet.”