Damn, now I have seen first hand 2 handicapped riding places that should not be in business. The first one I found out about was almost 10 years ago. I think because of the economy it might have gone out of business, since I cannot find out anything about it since 2006. The recent one was brought to my attention because they were begging for advise on a public message board. Both of them are similar and let me explain why.
They both had a “board of directors” and none of those on the “board” have any medical backgrounds what so ever. The legitimate horseback riding therapy programs will have at least one therapist, a doctor and someone certified by the national handicapped riding group. Neither one of those programs are. Yet they continue to get students in their programs. The one that closed down was known to have put handicapped kids on the backs of untrained horses, untrained in the sense of not use to the needs of the handicapped. Those horses were use to having their riders handle them and not known for being claim and gentle horses. I was called by them in 2004 to see if I could place a mare that they had which had turned aggressive towards everyone. It was no doubt that the horse was not suited to that program but they continued to use her until she revolted. Had the person who was running the program been more knowledgeable in the acquisition of the horses maybe she would not have taken in every horse offered to her. Her only qualification for the role was that she was able to fundraise and always wanted a horse. Her program was always based in someones extra 2 acres behind a private home because all of the public riding stables would have nothing to do with her. Unfortunately that fact was only known to the horse community in the area and the handicapped people were unaware of it.
My recent discovery was of another program where the person running it calls her self a Dr with a PhD at the end of her name. I met that “Dr” years ago when she wanted to take riding lessons from me. Her PhD is not medical nor is she a therapist of any kind, no her PhD is in literature. To me, putting that PhD on her credentials for a handicapped riding program is miss leading to her students. Did I say miss leading? Heck I meant to say fraudulent. By the way she now is the riding instructor for the program. I turned her down when she came to me for riding lessons because she was 67 years old, overweight and walked with 2 walking canes. She must now be in her mid to late 70’s and running a program with lame horses.
If you are looking for a legitimate handicapped riding program then here is my advice: CHECK THEM OUT. Make sure there are licensed professional medical people involved in the program. There are many that are headed by real medical doctors and are affiliated with hospitals. Some of the well known ones are located on university campuses. Don’t all victim to those programs that are run by people that just love to help people and horses. If riding therapy is done incorrectly then the handicapped person will have damage done to them, either mentally or physically. Stay away from the rip off artists. I only wish that more people who were damaged by those rip off programs would let the general public know about it or sue the program. I personally would like to see those programs become licensed under medical treatment. It would put those underhanded places out of business and the legitimate ones would then receive medical insurance payments because they are now a REAL therapy.