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."

Up... Over.... GONE.

Story Narrated by: Shelby Reynolds - Handler and Trainer

Getting ready for visits is always different, which makes every day a new adventure. Some lucky days all three of us (Lisa, Kate and I) are out there getting horses ready, sometimes two of us, and other times… it’s just me. This day was one of the days I was getting the horses groomed, bathed, and dry for the visit today. When I’m by myself I think more strategically, I always start with the ones that are dirtier than the rest, and/or harder to dry… that way I know they are finished. On this particular day we had decided to take Wendy, Harley, Denver and Dakota on our visit to the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG). 

It’s a nice summer day: sunny and 80 degrees, so I decided to just let the horses eat grass out in the sun while they dried. We have, to my displeasure, a PINK… not purple… corral that stands about 38 inches tall and can get to about 24 feet wide. The horses are able to stay in this corral while they dry off and eat grass. They have access to water and usually end up laying down sunbathing. It’s an easy way to keep them contained and on a clean piece of land before they make a visit.

To introduce our crew for the day:

  • Wendy is our princess at the farm. She is a grand height of 29” and has a vibrant personality making her hard to forget for people we visit.

  • Harley, who I call Haggard like Merle Haggard. He is small in stature and has a very down to earth easy-going personality, making him a perfect therapy horse.

  • Denver, our unicorn. He has stunning blue eyes, natural eyeliner, and is stark white. Denver is most requested for visits, and often sports a beautiful unicorn horn.

  • Dakota is a sweet 34” black and white pinto. He has what we call puppy dog eyes and has a very easy-going, methodical personality.


I start with Denver, because he is, like usual, a mess. He takes the most time to clean… if you saw him out in the fields, you wouldn’t know he is a beautiful white looking horse with small black spots in various spots on his body. He’s a natural for getting EVERY SINGLE INCH of him covered in mud. So I start with a rinse down & scrub for Denver. We use some of the best shampoo for this guy. Because he loves rolling in the mud so much, we can’t just wash and rinse, he gets soaped down and has to wait for a few minutes to let the shampoo set into his crazy muddy mess.

So, as I let the soap soak in on Denver, I go ahead and move onto bathing Wendy. Wendy loves attention, I mean she absolutely LOVES it. So, the entire time I wash her she is standing with her head low and back hoof propped up, making my job easy.  In no time at all, Wendy is finished, Denver just needs a rinse down, and I have two horses to go. In order to keep the assembly line moving, I decide to move Wendy out to the corral.

The minute I put her in there and let her loose… she’s off like a bandit, strutting her stuff for whoever may be watching. She does her usual: roll in the nice grass to try to get dry, so I assume it will only last for a minute or two. I watch her for a little longer, but I know that I need to get back to the barn. “Finish washing Denver, start on Dakota, let him soak… wash Harley and we’re all done,” I think to myself. Little did I know what I had coming…

I added this picture so you can get an idea of her height compared to the corral, so you can be just as shocked as I was…

I added this picture so you can get an idea of her height compared to the corral, so you can be just as shocked as I was…

I turn to walk back to the barn and she starts whipping her head around (insert I whip my hair back and forth song). She runs full force to the far side of the corral, turned around, and heads full force to this side again. This is new, so I stay to figure out what she is up to…

Next thing I know, she’s running full force towards the front of the corral and clears the top of the corral. In case you missed what, I said, she …. CLEARED THE TOP OF THE CORRAL. Not knowing to laugh or yell for her, I just stand there in shock. Immediately, I realize, we have her in the wrong profession: this girl is a hunter-jumper at heart! She get’s her “ooo look at me go!” adrenalin rush out, then runs back to the barn gate to see the other horses. 

After laughing and wishing I hadn’t left my phone in the mud lot, I bring her back into the tack room so I can finish rinsing off Denver. Once he is finished, I take both of them back out to the corral and all is fine and dandy. I finish up Dakota and Harley with ease and a few hours later we’re off to have a great visit at CVG with a story to share!

 Moral of the story: don’t underestimate yourself. Whatever you set your mind to; with determination, you can do it. 

Thank You!


We are thankful to all the students who have participated in our seminars this year. What an amazing year! We have been able to see people with a passion for horses and people find ways to serve their communities. It is a joy to give people the information they need to be confident in their program, their training and fulfill their dreams of using a miniature horse in therapy work. We also love the diversity of programs we are seeing our students put together and create. Some will be focusing on elderly care, some are hoping to help children with specials needs, one wants to reach out to recovering addicts while another programs want to help children combat bullying. Our numbers are multiplying and we are able to bring hope, joy and compassion to even more people. As we close this year’s season we are looking forward to see what next year will bring. We have a new DVD to offer and we also will continue to add to our online seminar. We are very pleased to announce that we will offer a new training program that will offer students two full days at our farm to study and practice what they learn. We have lots to look forward to in 2019!

The Winds of Change are Coming


Just like all programs, change is inevitable. Change can be difficult, challenging and full of stress but it frequently results in good things. We believe good things are happening for our program. Seven Oaks Farm is in the process of revamping all our seminars. The change comes not out of habit or just because its the thing to do, but out of our dedication. We are fully committed to bringing you the best program we can when it comes to training your miniature therapy horses or handling your miniature therapy horses. Time and experience are an excellent teacher and we have had both. We're growing our program so that you can receive the top quality training you want and expect. We will be adding many more seminars to our yearly schedule so we can specifically meet your needs. Now theres even more than outstanding book work, and lectures and videos but actual hand on training.


We are preparing to add several seminars to our calendar this coming year so you can train right here on our farm with our experienced trainers and handlers. All the course material will be conveniently offered with our written materials but also in video lectures. This will allow you to easily read the material and watch the lectures at a speed  and time that is convenient for you. Once the material is completed you can join our team at our farm and spend many beneficial hours training as a handler and a trainer under the close supervision of our staff. You will be guided thru the entire process of a visit and be able to use your newly gained knowledge immmediately. We truly believe our new format will give you the hands on experience you've been asking for, offer you our expertise and increase your confidence in your skills. Keep looking for updates to our seminars and consider joining us this year. 


An Opportunity of a Lifetime

Do you have a love for horses? Do you have a passion for serving your community? Do you think about taking that cute little horse you own/saw on the internet for sale to bring joy to people in your area?


If you answered yes to any (or all!) of these questions, we may have the perfect opportunity for you. Sign up for an Intensive or Immersion Seminar. We will discuss everything you need to know if you want to start your own miniature therapy horse program.

What exactly will we cover?

We’ll start with choosing if becoming a nonprofit is best for you. Then move into how to choose and evaluate your horse. Next we’ll talk through volunteers, trainers & handlers in your program. Later on, you’ll hear us talk through some studies and techniques to train your horses. And of course, we’ll cover the A-Z of making a therapy horse visit. We’ll give you information about things you haven’t even thought of yet, and answer some questions you can’t find answers to. 

 What are the dates and timeline?

Intensive Seminar dates: February 23-25 in Hemet, CA {just a few spots left!} September TBD in Crane, MO. Other locations and dates TBD. 

Immersion Seminar dates: April 27-29 {one spot left}, June 1-3, August 3-5, October 5-7.

A general timeline:

  • Friday night begins around 5pm with a quick meet and greet and lectures until around 8pm.

  • Saturday begins around 9am and ends around 5pm. The Intensive Seminars will be lecture for the majority of the day and some hands on training. The Immersion Seminars will be shadowing a visit.

  • Sunday begins around 10am and ends around 2pm. The Intensive Seminars will focus more on hands on training and another question and answer session. The Immersion Seminar will go over questions from the previous day’s visit and cover lecture material.

  • Lunch will be provided Saturday and Sunday at both seminars.


Why are there two price points? 

Intensive Seminars are held at a location anywhere in the US capable of holding 10-15 people for lectures with miniature horses we can use for demonstration. These seminars are $350 and include study material, paperwork to take home, and some hands-on scenario training.

Immersion Seminars are held only at our farm in Hamilton, Ohio. These seminars are limited to 6 people to allow for one-on-one interaction between participants and our highly trained handlers. Included in this seminar, you will shadow a visit with our well trained therapy horses and handlers. You will follow us for preparation, during the visit, and post evaluation. These seminars at $500 and include study material, paperwork to take home, and one-on-one interactions with our highly trained handlers to observe and ask any questions you may have.

 Should I bring my own horses?

There’s no need. The facilities we are presenting the seminar have many different horses to choose from, and we will use these horses for demonstrations. Please just bring yourselves for these seminars, once you secure your spot we’ll send you all the information you need.


 I’m interested! What should I do next? 

Now you have two options: register on our website for the seminar of your choice, or email us! We can set up an invoice if you would like to make payments. There is a $100 nonrefundable deposit necessary to hold your place in the seminar, final payment is due 30 days before the event. No refunds will be issued up to 30 days before the event.

We truly believe you will enjoy these seminars as well as walk away with all the information you need to start your own miniature therapy horse program. We will give valuable insight and help spread the ministry of spreading joy with mini horses. Hope you can join us! 

Serving Others. Bringing Joy. Offering Hope. 

Its Been a Great Year

2017 is coming to a close and it is a good time to reflect on all we have accomplished this year. Our teams have done a record number of visits this year. We received two grants that had a big impaction our therapy programs and on those we visit. The first grant from the Hamilton Community Foundation allowed the program to purchase a used van to be used as an additional means of transportation for the horses and a second team of handlers. The second grant from the Charles H Dater Foundation enabled Seven Oaks Farm Miniature Therapy Horses to bring an anti bullying message to over 30 private schools in the Ross, Hamilton and Cincinnati areas. The grant also led to schools being able to participate in an anti-bully poster contest that will culminate with students being invited to attend a Reds baseball event this spring. Your private donations have made a huge impact on our horses and on our teams. We have been able to visit  more care facilities and made a record number of visits to area care facilities and nursing homes. All this happened, plus we were  able to meet our usual request to do private hospice visits for families, make monthly visit with the families at Ronald McDonald House in Cincinnati, and attend Camp Joy hosted by the Cincinnati Police Department, visit students at several university campuses and attend several public events and parades.. This year we have been kept busy doing therapy visit for the Hamilton Police Department attending Safety Town, and partnering with them for several school, anti-bullying presentations and their annual picnic. Cincinnati Police department hosted their annual National Night Out and many other events as well. Our year has been packed with therapy visits for the young and elderly. Our therapy horses were also part of a several awards won by Northern Kentucky Cincinnati Airport thru our partnership to bring therapy support to airline passengers. This same time last year we were very proud to be marching as invited guest to the Tournament of Roses Parade 2017 with our team. Much has occurred this year as we have tried to increase the reach of our program and to find new ways to make it better. One of the ways we have increased the reach of our program is to increase the number of facilities and school we visit. We also have focused on training our horses to be sent to other facilities that are doing therapy and teach other therapy groups about our methods of training and handling. We were able to place horses with several groups this year and hope to see the horses and the groups flourish. Last year we presented seminars that covered information on handling and putting together a top notch therapy program. Later this spring you will be able to purchase DVD's of this seminar.

What does the new year look like. 

The new year looks amazing and we are excited to get started. We will continue to make as many visits as possible and focus on children a bit more this year. Thru our focus on children we hope to bring our new anti-bullying program, called Valor VIP that is created and written by Lisa Moad, to at least 40 schools. We also will be dedicating many of our visits to meet the needs of children with autism. We will be partnering with local programs to provide therapy were it is beneficial. We have created many goals we believe will keep us on the right track to improve our program and keep us a leaders in the field of animal assisted therapy. We are dedicated to educating and teaching others about what we do, so we have added 6 new seminar dates to our year. We will have a full year ahead, one that is bound to be very rewarding. It is a year that will only be possible thru your generous donation.

We have many ways to support our program, you can give monthly or yearly or just a one time donation. Another way is to become a Guardian Angel. The guardian Angel program supplies the basic needs  like grain, hay, medicine and hoof care for just our therapy horses. Total monthly cost is about $200 but you can begin being a Guardian Angel for just $25 per month or for the total cost of $200 per month. You can choose a specific horse to sponsor, make private visits, receive updates on your horse and receive special gifts too.  We need your financial donation to keep all our programs operating at full strength so that they can continue serving thousands in our area. The impact these horses and their handlers have on those they visit is immeasurable. Eyes sparkle, smiles shine , laughter is abundant and for some hope returns. 

Thank you for your encouragement, your help, and especially your donation. We hope your new year is one full of wonderful things and we also hope you will be a part of our new year.

More Seminar Dates Announced


 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!


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.