Tips for a Great Visit #2

Great Facility Visits

When you make visits to over 75 assisted living facilities, you see a lot and learn a lot. We began to put together a list for activities directors so they could be prepared for the horses when we arrived. The list of tips was handed out during the pre-visit; we wanted to keep our staff and horses as well as the residents safe.

REMEMBER YOUR PRE-VISIT!

Being the directions and map genius of the group; Kate would make the pre-visit. She drove to the facility about a week or two in advance to meet the activities director and hand them a pre-visit packet with written documents about who we are, what all our handlers are required to go through and health certificates for all the therapy horses. We also include information about what a typical donation amount would be and why we need the donation, our W-9 form and tips to make the visit safe and enjoyable for everyone involved.

Tips for a Great Visit #1

A while back we posted our first tip for a great visit: #1 During every visit we provide for your facility, please have an activities director or staff member escort our teams for the entirety of the visit. If our team is left unattended for any reason we will terminate the visit. We make this explicitly clear during the pre-visit to make sure we are not trapped in a lockdown unit or walk into a quarantined room without prior knowledge. Having someone who is familiar with the residents escort you through the facility is a life-saver. They know the patients well enough to let you know who may have an aggressive tendency, who might bite or grab, and alert you to that before you enter the room. They will also know all the door codes to lockdown units and - if there were any issues, could be another set of eyes. If you plan to bring more than one team in for a visit, make sure there is an escort with each team; always err on the safer side.

Tips for a Great Visit #2

This tip is also very important during your pre-visit. The second tip for a great visit: #2 Determine who we will visit and if we are visiting a group or individuals. Make sure you talk thru a plan at the pre-visit with the activities director before you arrive the day of with the horses. Remember too, if you decide to visit this facility once a month that you can rotate visitors; one month a group visit, the next month switch to individualized visits. This way, you can visit with different patients and bring various horses. The residents always enjoy meeting new horses; but be prepared for residents to learn their names and ask for them the next time!

Check the Surroundings

When you get to the facility on your pre-visit, it is a good idea to “scope out the space”. At your pre-visit, discuss where you can park your vehicle and where they would like you to enter and exit. Many facilities will “cone off” an area the day of our visit. Typically, the activities director will have an area in mind for you to visit with their residents. Here are some things to think about when looking at a room (or patio area) for a therapy horse visit:

  • most of the group visitors will likely be in wheelchairs which will require extra space and the need to move around,

  • see how the sun or light exposure is coming in, and look for shadows,

  • point out any tight spaces,

  • take not of the flooring and/or plants in the room,

  • for patio area - look for grass, and

  • locate any medical equipment and placement.

Make sure to look for things as you walk through the building that might be new to your horses (ie: a bird cage) and add that to your training list. If you are asked to use an elevator, note the small differences between this one and others your horse may have been exposed to. For us, an elevator is an elevator; but for horses, even one detail that is different - makes it a new experience.

REVIEW AND MAKE IT CLEAR

When you’re finishing your pre-visit, make sure you review with the activities director the details of the visit. If you have decided the facility will have a group visit to start - that is the plan. Let the director know the type of visit determines the horses that you will bring so changes cannot be made. We are very firm with the idea that “The Plan is the Plan” and making changes at the last minute may mean that their visit will be shortened or canceled.

Hot Topic: Potty Trained?

CAN YOU TRULY “POTTY TRAIN” A HORSE?

This is something that is a true argument between miniature horse owners. Before we start the conversation, we need to clarify a few details:

  1. The idea of potty training. When people hear potty training, they typically assume you are talking about a dog. Where: the dog itself is trained to stand by a door or bark until you, the owner, pays attention and lets the animal out to go potty. The animals are signaling to the owner that they need to relieve themselves. The owner doesn’t need to constantly be on watch for signs.

  2. With-holding food. For a horse to be healthy - they need to be eating 18-20 hours of the day. Otherwise, they develop ulcers and can have serious health problems. Certainly, if an animal isn’t given food - they won’t need any relief. But, for horses to be healthy… this is not an option.

  3. Horses enjoy routine. If they are used to doing the same thing - chances are, they will get used to that routine and stick with it. That routine is developed and they know to relieve themselves in the same spot over a period of time; such as a special place in the yard or in the trailer.

  4. Horses do not have the sense to “hold it” like a trained dog (and human) can do. They will just go. And handlers are always on guard to watch the animal for signs or signals.

Okay: so with these details… You can start to see why we believe:

Horses cannot be potty trained in the same sense that a dog can be potty trained.

 

Dog vs. Horse Potty Training

Dallas, Buddy, and Skye

When an animal is “potty trained” they are considered to know that relieving themselves inside is bad, and that they need to alert their owner that they need to go. The owner can be doing other things, and will be alerted by the animal itself; there is no constant-following or supervision to watch the animal to make sure they don’t go in the house - since they are trained. With that explained; horses do not give a sign to their owner, rather, the hander needs to be on constant lookout to watch their horse for signs.

Here’s an example: I know when Wendy starts to move around after an hour of standing still during a visit, that we need to go outside to let her relieve herself. She hasn’t announced through pawing or nudging (signs she is trained not to do during a visit anyways) that she needs to relieve herself, instead I am watching for a sign. AND I know we have been on a visit for about an hour - the typical timeframe a horse will need to relieve itself anyways. So we go outside to the trailer and she relieves herself.

 

With-holding Food

Now, I’ve already mentioned how often horses need to be eating. We never-ever keep food away from the horses before a visit. There is always hay in the trailer with water in a bucket, or at least in a sealed container since certain horses like knocking over the water 😏… and they will always be offered water before and after a visit. (I think I nailed this one on the head now.)

 

Routine

Denver.JPG

Herd animals enjoy doing the same thing over and over again. Have you ever noticed horses getting bent out of shape when you feed at a different time than “usual”? The nature of these animals is to follow the same routine. So naturally, if they are used to the routine of a visit they will automatically learn that after a certain task is performed they continue to the next. Our pre-visit routine is the same each time: a) bathe the horses, b) let them dry in the corral, c)load into the trainer {cue relieving themselves, also because they smell it}, d) make the visit, e) return to the trailer {again, a cue to relieve themselves} f) return home and roll in the dirt. See: although the visit location of the visit may differ, the routine is always the same. Notice with the more veteran therapy horses… take Denver for example. When we put on a BunBag, vest, clean his hooves and brush his mane and tail he seems to “get in the mood” for the visit. He understands this is the same as always and has very trusting relationship with us. His head drops and he is ready for visitors.

But wait: You still put on a BunBag?

YES! We will always put a BunBag on. When we were first doing training visits years ago, we were getting so caught up and nervous watching the horse for signs that we couldn’t focus on the patient/horse experience. The bags are a security for us as handlers. Then, we don’t have to keep watching and honestly, stressing, to watch and observe the horse for signs they may have to go. Remember, horses can hear your heartbeat - so when your anxiety increases your heart rate increases and the horses will notice that and become unsettled with you.

Fun Fact: Horses only pee 2 - 3 times a day; However, they will poop almost every hour.

Also consider: if you are doing a visit where your horses are eating in the grass while visitors pet them - they will more than like poop during that visit. What goes in always comes out.

Always Remember: Horse are unpredictable.

You could think your horse is doing well remembering the routine of a visit, but something can always happen. Even our more experienced horses have pooped in their bag during a visit. Some horses are coined as “double-poopers” and we keep note of that. These are horses that will stress poop for various reasons. You just never know. And instead of constantly watching our horse for signs, simply leaving the relieving to be relieved; we can have a fun enjoyable visit with a built-in safety net for the horse.

We never leave the farm without a bag on, that is our policy. I take everything we came with back to the farm.


DOES THIS TOPIC INTEREST YOU? TAKE ONE OF OUR SEMINARS


Lives Change.

“See ya’ Later, Love You!”

You know that feeling of sending your kids off to college? Each time is never easier than the first. My horses hold a very special place in my heart. Sending three of our favorite horses to start a program in Harrison, Ohio this weekend was very exciting - but difficult.

Our Mission

It is our goal as trainers of therapy horses to build a relationship with these horses. The process of training a horse for therapy is a full-time job. In order to keep our horses trained for what we do, they need constant, consistent work. We spend hundreds of hours with these 4-legged creatures getting them comfortable in all types of situations. They come in our home, ride in the van with us, and we even spend our “off-time” in the lot watching them eat. TRUST is most important. We develop a love and understanding with all of our horses and that bond cannot be broken.

After years of training, visits, adventure and lots of laughter; our path has shifted. We are now focusing on equipping others in the world of miniature therapy horses to start their own world-class program. Many of the attendants at Lisa Moad’s seminars have been driven to start programs and have everything they need - except the horses. So, we decided to gift some of our best therapy horses to budding programs across the United States. We want to help others to spread as much joy as we have.

 

Welcome to Harrison, Ohio!

 

BUCK OWENS & KENTUCKY THUNDER

“Buck” & “Tuck” will be the founding members of a therapy program created by Christine Jonas and her daughter, Katie. Chris has such a passion for helping others, and she immediately fell in love with the idea of using miniature therapy horses to assist others. Her daughter, Katie has a history with horses and is excited to work with these two cuties. Both Katie and Chris fell in love with Tuck when they visited, and Buck wanted to follow them everywhere! These boys will be an excellent start to their future program.

 

BOCEPHUS

While these two ladies were at the farm, they couldn’t take their eyes off of Bo. (But honestly, who can 😉!) His gorgeous mane & tail and loving personality really makes him quite an amazing boy. They were hooked. Bo will continue his training with them, living a life of luxury. The decision to sell Bo was a very difficult one. We have loved this boy with all our heart during his years at the farm, but we know these ladies will do amazing things with him.

There are tears EVERY TIME we send horses off to their new programs and homes. This is never easy, but it is our way of giving back even more than we already have been able to do. Change is inevitable, and we have been blessed to see the difference we have made over the years. Now, we focus on training others to continue the mission of: When Compassion Meets Action; Lives Change. We have a passion for serving others, and our ministry will continue on with the groups we have been able to gift these amazing therapy horses to.

Serving Others. Bringing Joy. Offering Hope.

Transporting Minis to Events

Horse Transportation

There’s been a lot of debate on how to transport minis during visits. For convenience sake, it’s very easy to park a van or 150 series vehicle in a parking space. But, have you consider the safety of these smaller “parking space” size vehicles?

Please, please, please:

… make sure you have some type of partition in your vehicle to keep your horse{s} secure in the back. If you happened to get in an accident, or you need to brake quickly, you wouldn't want your precious cargo coming thru the front window. Yes, the videos are so cute and go “viral” on Social-Media when a horse in the backseat. But take a step back to think about the ramifications; is it really that meaningful to get social “likes” instead of keeping animals’ safety a priority? Confession, we have put a horse or two in the back of our Subaru. But: what if we were rear-ended, or worse - had to stop suddenly; would anything be holding these precious horse(s) in my backseat. ….

Ford Transit

Option:

We purchased a Ford Transit & a custom made box stall. The stall was secured in the back of the van by connection to the metal frame; keeping both horses & humans safe. The smaller (mind you, smaller than a truck and trailer) vehicle was easy to park - especially during downtown visits where parking was an issue. And, it was a nice backup incase something happened to the truck or trailer.

The purchase of our Ford Transit was at the height of visit demand. We were getting more requests than one team could handle, so we hired another handler and purchased this van. We could now have two different teams making therapy horse visits in one day! What great fun! With a growing team of trained therapy horses, we were able to make a difference in the lives of twice as many people as before!

 

Also something to consider: insurance

Some insurance companies would throw out your insurance if they find out you are transporting live animals in your back seat ...  There are only a handful of insurance companies that allow transport of horses. Now horses in particular, in the back seat of your vehicle. Geico is one of them. But, make sure you call and talk to your insurance provider to make sure they are very clear that you are hauling a miniature horse in your vehicle, and that you have taken all the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of both the horses and humans.

 

It comes down to personal preference.

We still find ourselves resorting back to the “traditional” mode of transporting horses - a truck and trailer. Yes, it can prove difficult sometimes and people don’t always respect your space. But - there is nothing more funny than watching peoples’ reactions when we pull up with this giant rig and out trot two barely 30” tall horses decked out in bows and vests. COME ON! Gets us every time.

Bittersweet Love

Today we sent three of our country western stars across the country to Utah & Oregon. Alan Jackson, Jimmy Buffett, and Dolly Parton.

Saying "goodbye" to animals after long hours of training is always a sad day. We have so much love for the animals we work with - sometimes they are considered closer than blood related relatives! (Shhh! 😅) We learn a lot not only about the horse we are working with, but inevitably we learn something about ourselves as well. These three have made a resounding impact on us that we are sure to cherish for years.

Alan Jackson & Jimmy Buffett

Alan & Jimmy are headed to an experienced equestrian in Utah. They will be welcomed with a grand party upon their arrival + the continuation of training to be therapy horses. We are so happy these two are going to Colleen, and can't wait to see where her program goes. 

Dolly Parton

Dolly will be joining an esteemed program in Oregon; Elderberry Lane. She will join therapy horses and donkeys alike to lift spirits of children in the area. Dolly will also continue her therapy training with Joni creating a lasting bond between them.

 

Both Colleen & Joni have taken some form of Lisa's Miniature Therapy Horse Seminars and both ladies have a fond love of all kinds of animals. We are sad to see these three leave the farm, but very excited for this opportunity to continue doing what they do best.  

Serving Others. Bringing Joy. Offering Hope. 


Read all about the horses Lisa Moad has gifted to therapy horse programs across the United States.


Listen Up!

Therapy Horses on Sirius XM

Do you have Sirius XM Radio? Then you’re in luck! Lisa will be on-air talking about our therapy horses and the special effect they have on all those we visit.

The deets:

  • Thursday, April 18th

  • 3:00pm CST

  • Shark Farmer

  • SXM: Channel 147


Here’s a little bit about Rob Sharkey, taken from his webpage. To learn more about his podcasts & radio show, click here.

 

THE MAN, THE MYTH, THE FARMER:

ROB SHARKEY

Rob Sharkey, known in digital circles as The Shark Farmer, is not your average Illinois grain farmer. He’s a disruptor who is unwavering in his ability to directly address controversial topics.

Rob tackles life, alongside his high school sweetheart, Emily, knowing four smaller sharks in their school will be impacted by their choices.

With the hog crash of ‘98 in the rearview mirror, a turn-key outfitting business thriving, and a handful of acres demanding more time than is warranted, the only logical step was to launch a necessary - yet stupendously groundbreaking - podcast.

His provocative style parallels a story-based structure, which resonates with thousands of weekly, global listeners. Juxtapose his rough-around-the-edges persona with an unmatched ability to listen and relate to those spanning generations, time zones, and the rural/urban divide, and you’ve found the formula for an under-the-radar and out-of-the-box communicator.

And, he’s just getting started.

 

Choosing A Therapy Horse

Some of the most frequent questions we are asked are, “Would my horse make a good therapy horse,” and “How do you evaluate a horse for therapy?”. As easy as these questions may sound there is NO easy answer. You may ask yourself, “why is it so hard to answer such simple questions?” The answer will vary for each individual horse and its handler. The experiences and backgrounds of each horse vary greatly, as does the experience of each handler; it isn’t safe or logical to say that there is a set of rules to follow. 


Just like you, I am in love with horses and find it hard to resist a new horse. The personality of any horse away from it’s herd and normalcy is harder to predict, and could easily change when in a new handler’s hands. Good breeders will keep the integrity of the miniature horse breed, have established personality and size consistency. I pick a horse because I like his/her coloration, I also have a list of reputable breeders who I work with who know the personality I look for.



Horse Age

There are pros and cons of choosing a horse of any age for your program. We have brought in horses like Annabelle and had her out doing therapy visits within 2 weeks of being born. Others like Denver came to the farm around age 4 and after a bit of desensitization, he was doing therapy visits after 6 months. You need to find a horse that works with your personality. If you can form a trusting relationship with a horse, age doesn’t matter.

Baby Horses

They are so irresistible! Okay, now that we have that established… A benefit of choosing a younger horse is the small number of handlers they have experienced. You will be their primary trainer and you know a lot of what they have been through. When they are young, babies are typically easier to handle and train. Remember, horses go thru a stage of "terrible twos”. Trust your training, don’t let temporary habits become normal behaviors.

Older Horses

A benefit of choosing an older horse is the maturity level. You can see more of their permanent personality. You are not the only person who has trained this horse, simply put - old habits die hard. A mature horse has history, various handlers and maybe even different disciplines. Do you best to find out how that previous training has influenced their handling and disposition now. Again, trust your training and be consistent.

Bottom line, a horse that is well trained with a tender hand will create a lasting bond.



Mares or Geldings? 

We use mares and geldings equally in our program. I don’t prefer one over the other, and some of my best teams are mare/gelding duos. I do take into consideration who I put into the trailer. Some horses will react differently on a visit depending on who is with them. A lot of my time is spent watching the herd dynamic, who allows who to eat by their side. This determines who I can pair together. We always try to partner horses with their friends or other horses from their micro-herd to make the visit as stress-free as we can.



Termination of Therapy Training

During initial evaluation of a horse for therapy work, two characteristics will immediately disqualify:

  • kicking out of aggression

  • biting out of aggression

This is a sign of how the horse will respond under stress and would require a lot of training to change that response. There is no guarantee the horse will ever improve. It is worth mentioning, out of aggression is a very different response than playfulness or mouthiness. Horses play games with each other by nipping at the others’ front legs. There is a noticeable difference between a horse bite and a playful nip.


Do your homework

  • Ask what type of training the horse has received,

  • Ask for proof of training,

  • Ask for videos of visits if the horse is a “trained therapy horse”,

  • Ask someone who knows horses to accompany your visit with a new horse,

  • Make sure there is a contingency plan if the horse doesn’t work out within reasonable time,

  • Use previous experience with horses, and

  • Use your gut instinct.

You could check off all your “boxes” and find a horse that seems fit for therapy but doesn’t enjoy the work he/she does. That’s okay! Therapy work isn’t for every miniature horse. Our goal is to place the horse in a program it thrives in - and sometimes they’re just beautiful lawn ornaments with excellent ground work waiting for their forever home.


 

Fear in Horses

Fear in Horses

"Fear is so bad for animals, I think it's worse than pain. I always get surprised looks when I say this. If you gave most people a choice between intense pain and intense fear, they'd probably pick fear. I think that's because humans have a lot more power to control fear than animals do."