Every day all over the world horses provide much needed therapy and treatment to people in need. They provide physical, emotional, and mental training and healing. Humans depend on them for so much and we have a moral and ethical obligation to be good stewards of our equine companions. This close proximity can take a toll on horses physically and psychologically even in the realm of experienced equine professionals. So many times though it is the small lesson facility that sees hundreds of people each year and makes a profound difference in people’s lives. This can be at a 4-H camp, a rodeo club, a therapeutic riding facility, or any one of a million different small facilities all over the US. These type facilities are not known for their impressive budgets but for the passion of their workers. Many times the staff at these facilities are volunteers, or young part time workers who do not have a great deal of experience and can work for a lower wage. On the flip side, the horses at these facilities are often there till they are considered too old or their habits too much of an issue for them to continue. The need to care for the wellbeing of these horses is great but the question is how we can do that with typically less experienced and younger staff that may only be at a facility for a few years. Often these horses develop behavioral issues that can be dangerous or cause them to be unusable for a program. What can we do to change that? Knowing that this needs to be an economical approach that has to be time aware any viable solution would have to be short and affordable to implement. A SDA youth camp in Tennessee was used as an example of small equine lesson facilities. An MWDS survey was used to try to understand the staff’s perception of their knowledge, abilities, and where they needed further training to make their programs run more smoothly for themselves and the horses. A small group of equine professionals was used as observers to make comments and help understand the facility’s capabilities, not only from the staff’s perspective. Some of the answers pointed to more specific training in basic horse husbandry, while others indicated things like overall situational awareness and self-confidence were needed the most. The purpose being that if we could address some of the needs and shortcomings of the staff, then they could better care for and understand the needs of the horses in their programs. This could extend the life and usefulness of these horses, as well as, enriching their quality of life on a daily basis. There were some issues in compliance and maturity but overall the observers were impressed with the ability and passion of the staff in the study. The camp director has requested a copy of the study when it is done and wants to discuss how the findings can improve their program. This sets the probability of recommendation compliance fairly high. Hopefully with this just being the beginning, future studies can expand to larger numbers of facilities and increased understanding can help with training and direct programs to be more efficient. All of this can hopefully lead to healthier and better understood horses and programs that are better equipped to teach and provide equine therapy.
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Year degree awarded
equine malbehavior, lesson horses, horse psychology, small equine facility
Clark, Casey, "THE UNSPOKEN PSYCHOLOGICAL ISSUES WITH LESSON HORSES AND HOW WE NEED TO ADDRESS THEM" (2018). Murray State Theses and Dissertations. 99.
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