therapy horses

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.


 

More Seminar Dates Announced

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 Our seminars are very popular and have been given great reviews by those who have attended. Since so many of you have asked for addition dates we have decided to put together a very special set of classes that will be held only here in Ohio.  

We are offering a specially designed class that will combine Level 1 and Level 2  with hours of hands on training and participating in an actual visit. These seminars will be held  here at our farm in Hamilton, Ohio. The classes will be small so that each student gets plenty of personal attention and the ability to practice what you have learned. The classes are limited to 6 students and you will be able to work with our horses for all the hands on portion, you will also be able to experience our specific training methods for both horses and handlers. While you are here with us we will do an actual visit, you will be able to experience first hand what its like with our trained handlers by your side. You will walk thru all the steps necessary for preparing the horses for a visit, going on a therapy visit and a post visit evaluation. Our desire is for you to get a full experience in animal assisted therapy and gain as much experience as you can. 

Miniature Therapy Horses Level 1

This portion of our seminars is key to understanding our philosophy to our program and how we approach all the training we do for horses and handlers. It is also created as a road map to help you walk thru the maze of question you might have in regards to insurance, setting up a visit, becoming a 501C3, training your horse, choosing a horse, becoming a handler, finding good products and a whole host of other needs. The Level 1 seminar will include a study guide you can take home that will contain pages and pages of all the information discussed in the lectures. The guide will allow you to follow along and take notes as well. we cover Level 1 Friday evening and into Saturday. 

 

Miniature Therapy Horses Level 2 

This course is designed to take all the information you gained in Level 1 and put it into practice. This portion of the seminar is hands on and will walk you thru the steps of choosing a horse, training your horse and preparing for the different levels of registration. It will also give you practical guidance when it comes to handling your horse for various types of visits. Both of these courses are key to our program and build upon each other. Taking these seminars will allow you to register your horse through our program free of charge. Level 2 will be covered Saturday with a visit for you to participate in and ending Sunday with more training and one on one training. 

Version 3

Dates for Seminars Level 1 &2  Hamilton, Ohio 

Aril 27-29, 

June 1-3,

August 27-29

October 5-7

We are excited to share our experience and expertise with those who are desiring to learn more about animal assisted therapy with miniature horses. We would love to have you participate as an individual or as a group. If you think this experience is for you or have interest, please contact us for further details. 

The Results are in!

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We have been asking the schools we visit to let us have feedback on our program, "Just Say Whoa to Bullying" We are fortunate to have received feed back from several schools. We are grateful for their comments because it allows us to make adjustment and present the best program possible. we are thrilled that the comments have been so favorable for the content of the program and the presentation format as well. 

"I greatly appreciate that the "Just Say Whoa to Bullying" program covers material already in the third grade health curriculum. It is great for the kids to hear about bullying from a different source outside of the school. Allowing them to discuss this issue from different perspectives gives them a chance to practice the skills in different manners and understand the importance of the topic. I also loved that Seven Oaks Farms used the ponies to help gain the students attention and connected them to the program. I would love for the Say Whoa to Bullying program to return next school year."

"Linden thought that this program was wonderful. Both teacher and students shared how much they enjoyed this presentation. Thank you for all your efforts in bringing this program to us."

"I think the program is great for our students.  I though what was discussed was beneficial and age appropriate."

All this is made possible because of the donations made by you. Your donations allow us to take care of the horses physical needs as well as keep them in specialized training. We have some of the best, most experienced trainers and handlers here in our program. Your donations keeps our program top notch and allows us to have a program that we are very proud of. We thank you for your donations and hope you can see the benefits to our communities your dollars provide. We have been able to bring our anti-bullying message to hundreds of children in our area. You have made it possible to bring a change to these children and make a real difference.

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Whats Going On?

We consider ourselves and our program to be very blessed. We have great handlers and well trained miniature therapy horses. We continue to increase the number of visits we do each year, we are booked for all of 2017 and part of 2018 and we continue to grow. We receive more request to make visits to care centers, schools, etc. than we can attend. A few months ago, an anonymous donor, who is interested in seeing our program expand to help more children, gave us a very generous donation. We knew that in order to be able to make more visits another team would need to be in place and that we needed a means of transportation for that team as well. We made a decision to be very wise with the money donated and to use it as well as possible. To achieve this goal, Seven Oaks Farm was able to hire Sarah, our intern, as a full time handler. We also were able to locate a used van with the help of Liberty Ford. We purchased a used Ford Transit. We are now able to begin scheduling our new team that will be dedicated to serving the children in our community and also those in hospice care. We still need your help to continue with all the visits we already make to over 60 senior care facilities. While we are especially grateful for this donation, we still need your help to continue all the usual day to day care of the horses and to keep all our teams on the road. Our goal is still the same, to serve others, bring joy and offer hope. You are a very important part of helping us to achieve this goal and we need you. We need all the time you volunteer, we need your encouragement and when you can, we need your financial help as well. We know that with your generous support we have a bright future ahead of bringing joy to thousands in our community.

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Success!

We started visiting REM Ohio in December of 2015. We were making our rounds and came into the technology wing. Dakota was visiting with students and made his way up to a sweet gal named Danika. Pat, the director of activities was so excited for Danika to meet the horses because of the many stories she would tell about how much she loved them. So, we start walking toward Danika but her eyes go wide and she starts to back up.... "No! Stop right there!" she exclaimed. "But Danika, you told me you love horses...." Pat tried to assure her. "Well I do, but only on TV!"  

Our First Visit "That's close enough" 

Our First Visit "That's close enough" 

A few months later we visit again, this time with one of our smallest at the time, Red. He's smaller than a golden retriever and very gentle. This time Danika lets him a little closer but she's very skeptical. "I'm not sure about this... that's close enough." We catch a picture, (only after we give her time to fix her hair) and she has a small smile when we leave.

Our Second Visit, "I'm not sure about this..." 

Our Second Visit, "I'm not sure about this..." 

Our next trip out to REM was during the summer months of 2016, so we brought our pretty boy, Dallas. One of the cutest horses we have and average in size. Making our way into the technology room again, we greet with other students and smile at Danika. She tells us, "just close enough for a picture, but not too close." So, we inch Dallas a little closer and closer, and she scoots her wheelchair farther and farther. Again, we snap a picture and she thanks us for the visit.

Our third visit, "That's fine right there."  

Our third visit, "That's fine right there."  

Pat emails us around August saying, "Danika promised her brother a picture of her petting a horse, so next time she'll do it." We were ecstatic. During one of the hottest days of the year, we bring back Dallas & Denver. We make our rounds and spread plenty of joy to the classrooms. As we make our way to the technology wing, the rest of her class is waiting by the door. "They're here! They're here!" The whole classroom is buzzing and Danika is waiting with a nervous smile. We slowly walk Denver up and around within arms length of Danika & she holds her hand out and pets his mane. "You did it!" exclaimed Pat & Lisa, "You really did it!" Danika was full of excitement and wanted to see the pictures after they were taken. "I did it", she announced. And the whole class applauded. 

"I did it!"  

"I did it!"  

We may have just brought cute animals in for some of the students here, but to Danika she conquered a fear. We were able to help her reach a milestone and spread some joy in the process. 

 

Serving Others. Bringing Joy. Offering Hope.