If you're a horse person, you know that one of the most exciting things about owning horses is looking at new horses to add to your herd! This past week, NNNTRC got to experience a little bit of this when everyone welcomed the program's newest horse, Cadence. She is a 15 year old Percheron who is 16.1 hands tall. Her past hobbies include giving carriage rides at Virginia Beach and, most recently, she was used as a fox hunting horse. While Cadence's adventurous previous life surely makes her an intriguing new prospect for the center, there was a lot more that went into the decision to add her to the NNNTRC family. So, what make a good therapeutic riding horse?
In general, when choosing a horse for therapeutic riding, the center first has to consider its riders and the riders that it would like to serve in the future. What sort of temperament, movement, size, and abilities does the horse have in relation to the needs of these riders? These answers could all be different in each case, meaning there is not a one-size-fits-all horse for a therapeutic riding center. Just like each rider has his or her unique qualities, so does each horse. The trick is matching these qualities to make the most of the therapeutic riding experience.
In Cadence's case, NNNTRC was looking for a larger-framed horse in order to support a more diverse group of riders, ranging from children to adults. The center was also looking for a horse that responded well to beginner riders, but also had the skill set to challenge more advanced riders. By meeting these criteria, the center would be able to support more riders and challenge current riders to improve their riding skills even further.
Cadence sure seems to fit the bill, but her test isn't over quite yet. NNNTRC has a two week trial period with Cadence where the staff will insure that she is the right fit for the center. She'll be introduced to the indoor arena, acclimated to the specialized equipment that is used in lessons, asked to stand quietly at the mounting block, and tested for her abilities and responsiveness overall. NNNTRC has high hopes for Cadence and what she will bring to the therapeutic riding program in the future!
When adding a new horse to the herd NNNTRC has to figure out how much the horse will cost when feeding, buying new tack, hoof care and the total up keep. Cadence is a larger horse so she will consume a lot more food than a average horse, different types of tack to fit her properly, special hoof care and vet expenses for regular vaccines.
Above is a picture of Riding Instructor Katie working with Cadence for the first time!