Investing in new tack and gear can make it a challenge to introduce a new line of service to your horse business. If you have a real passion for using Miniature Horses in therapeutic interactions, getting into the business is low-cost.
Mini therapy horses have minimal tack and equipment needs. Halters and a short lead rope is all that’s necessary to facilitate mini therapy sessions. Some handlers choose to use a mobility support harness, a necessity for a service animal, but not necessarily for a therapeutic interaction
Lisa Moad of Seven Oaks Farm Miniature Therapy Horses in Ohio requires the groups she visits to have a potty bag on hand. This way the handler can focus on what is happening in the moment without worrying about an accident.
“We also require our handlers to carry the diaper bag as well," Moad said. "Other than that, a lot of the groups we train or collaborate with have vests or capes made for the horses that will have the group’s name on it or the horse's name.”
Depending on the location, minis might need traction on slippery surfaces. Some “shoe” options look almost like human sneakers, others are simply miniature-sized hoof boots available that are made by the same manufacturers as those for larger horses.
“I use vet wrap for the horse’s hooves when she needs traction on slippery floors,” said Carrie Brady, owner of Possibilities Farm in New York. Two miniature therapy horses are a part of her herd. “I don’t own any special equipment, but I travel with basic safety supplies, including a hoof pick and brush to do a final clean up when they come out of the van before a visit. I also bring along hand sanitizer for the people we meet.”
Editor's note: Anyone interested in working with mini therapy horses should volunteer at reputable facilities to "learn the ropes" and get training for themselves and their horses before embarking on the mission of providing therapy services.