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.


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.


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.

May the "horse" be with you

We took Jet & Toby Keith out to a local assisted living facility we've visited a few times before. What a blast. After a winter break, everyone was asking about the parade and complementing our outfits.



Of course, the majority of the attention was given to our two cute boys. We made several visits to rooms of residents and through the halls. It's always nice to see familiar faces who ask about relations with other horses at home. The residents at Birchwood have met many of our therapy horses and always want some background about the horses we bring. 

During room visits we met some residents we'd never seen before - each was very greatful (and shocked!) that we had brought a horse to see them. One woman never dreamed any animal bigger than the birds in her window would visit her, she was amazed. 

Toby Keith

Toby Keith

Anothet sweet man asked us if we were real, stating "I'm a martini drinker, and I'm not sure if it's me or the alcohol seeing this!" He followed us around for the next few minutes just to make sure.

Toby & Jet made some lasting impressions on the residents at this facility and we love to be able to offer some joy and a sense of hope to everyone there. On our way out, a man drinking his afternoon tea explained we couldn't be late for these cute boys dinner and left us with, "May the Horse Be With You!" 

We are here!

What a story!

The theme for this years 2017 Tournament of Roses Parade is "Echoes of Success", celebrating those who serve others and help others succeed and meet their goals.
Our goal at the beginning of our adventure was to impact as many as we could with our horses as we traveled across the USA. We succeeded at that, with many visits to children's centers and military facilities.

Our dream trip came to a screeching halt in El Paso, Texas. Our horses started showing signs of being ill and after much deliberation we thought it best to bring them home immediately and get our very sick mini horses home.

We were devastated by this news and filled with much doubt about this dream being fufilled. As we shared our predicament with friends, word traveled throughout the horse community. The Equine Committee of the Rose Parade was abreast of all the events that had been unfolding and were very supportive and worked along side us. I was contacted by a few people in our horse network and was encouraged to find alternate horses we could use in the parade.

Finding horses with the parade experience and therapy experience we required seemed an impossibility at such short notice. That is when Jeanne, of So Cal Mini Horse Sanctuary stepped into the picture. We had asked the Equine Committee to give us 24 hours to put an alternative plan together. We met with Jeanne to go over all the details and decide that the horses could meet the high standards that we had been given. Jeanne was on board to help us from the very beginning, she has been gracious and supportive.

The committee excepted our plan and we moved forward quickly trying to get as close as possible to our original plan. Jeanne provided horses that not only are ready to take on the many demands of the Rose Parade but also look identical to many of our horses that we had brought.

We feel our story exemplifies this years theme, Echoes of Success. We have helped many people and groups achieve success though our therapy program and Jeanne has definitely been apart of our success in achieving our participation in the parade. We worked through events that we thought were impossible to achieve. It is because of people like Jeanne and the horse community that we are able to achieve our dream!

On Monday, January 2, 2017 Seven Oaks Farm Miniature Therapy Horses and Jeanne's team will be walking in the grandest parade of them all. The Tournament of Roses Parade!

Thank you to all who have supported us!
Lisa Moad