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Horse Use and Care in Therapeutic Horseback Riding Programs

By Emily Watson

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The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) is an organization that offers therapeutic horseback riding (THR) and other equine-assisted activities and therapies in the United States. Research on how horses are used and cared for in PATH Intl.-affiliated THR programs is limited. Therefore, the objective of this study was to gather data regarding horse use and care to form a baseline. A survey developed via SurveyMonkey® and distributed through Google Mail Merge to 659 PATH Intl.-affiliated programs in September 2017. A total of 270 responses were received; 264 were eligible for data analysis. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the data. Mean session length was 8.30 ± 2.55 weeks (n = 111) while mean lesson length was 47.04 ± 13.68 minutes (n = 142); horses spent the majority of lessons at the walk. Most programs tracked horse use daily through written/electronic methods, over half of horses were donated, and the majority of horses were barefoot. Horses remained in THR programs for an average of 7.08 ± 3.02 years (n = 216) and most commonly left due to aging. Mean number of horses in programs was 11.44 ± 6.57 horses (n = 241). Most horses were geldings, aged 16 to 20 years, and of a stock-type breed (Quarter Horse, Appaloosa, Tennessee Walking Horse). Programs varied widely in client riding ability and types of disabilities served. Most common horse lameness issues were limb lameness, back soreness, and hoof issues. Most prevalent types of supplemental care were chiropractic adjustment and massage.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2018
Pages 78
Department School of Agriculture
Degree Master of Science in Agriculture
URL https://digitalcommons.murraystate.edu/etd/88/
Language English
University Murray State University
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal-assisted activities
  2. Animal-assisted therapies
  3. Horseback riding
  4. Horses
  5. Mammals
  6. open access
  7. Therapeutic horsemanship
  1. open access