Could Your Horse Be a Windrush Horse??
Thank you for considering Windrush for your horse. Becoming a therapy horse might be the perfect second career for your horse – please review our requirements below.
We are looking for
Mares or geldings — 14:2hh to 15.3 hands
- Well-balanced, with good conformation — having a horse who moves evenly and smoothly is crucial to our clients.
- We prefer horses who can carry weight due to their conformation.
8 years or older with some formal training or competition experience
- Exposure, experience, and an understanding of basic aids
- We prefer horses younger than 18. We sometimes make exceptions for the right horse, but those rarely apply to horses much older than 20.
Sound with 3 distinct comfortable, rhythmical gaits
- We need horses that can walk, trot and canter.
- Please, no chronic conditions (e.g. navicular, laminitis, allergies, heaves) that would keep them from working in our program on a regular basis or in our advanced classes.
Steady with a gentle, willing temperament
- Level-headed, not spooky or super reactive — Therapy horses have to trust their handlers and understand that new things won’t hurt them.
- “Plays well with others” — Able to be turned out in a herd, well behaved in a group lesson (indoors or out), accepting of other horses in personal space or passing by stall, good ground manners.
- Likes people and tolerant of being handled by different people
- Strong work ethic and likes to learn
Becoming part of the Windrush herd
Almost all of the therapy horses at Windrush are donated or leased by owners who want them to be happy, healthy and do meaningful work. When an owner contacts us about a potential donation, we try to visit and ride the horse in its current home to see if it’s a potential fit. Any new horse who arrives at the farm goes through a mandatory two-week health/safety quarantine and a trial period. “We want to make sure they are well-suited for our program, and that the horse is happy,” says Chief Operating Officer Josselyn Shaughnessy. “The owners want to make sure it is the right fit for their horse as well.”
Trials can vary in length, but usually last at least two months. During that time, the horse is handled and ridden by staff, and evaluated and discussed by instructors, before going into any classes. During the trial period, in addition to basic schooling, we try to expose horses to the experiences they may encounter in their new career — unbalanced riders, strange noises, toys being thrown overhead, voice commands, wheelchairs, crutches, confined spaces, lots of people, mounting ramps, pool noodles, music, overhead lifts. It’s a demanding job and it’s not right for every horse. But for the “perfect pony,” becoming a Windrush horse can mean a lifetime of love and important work in a beautiful place with excellent care. As Mandy Hogan, our Consulting Educator, says, “We’re looking for horses that love this work. This is what makes them such amazing healers and educators.”
If you know a horse who could become a Windrush horse,
please contact us any time at 978-682-7855 or [email protected]
And … if you are considering donating your horse to Windrush or any equine-assisted program, you might want to try some of these “games” from an excellent article, Would Your Horse Make a Good Therapy Horse?, written by Anne Reynolds and used here with her permission.