Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are the horses trained to do exactly?
A: Besides being trained the basic skills that every horse should be trained to know like bathing, clipping, grooming, haltering, leading, etc. As a therapy horse they are trained to walk and stop on command, stand quietly and willingly while people pet them regardless if the person is standing, squatting, kneeling, sitting in a wheelchair, laying in a bed, in a walker, etc. This also includes training them so they are not spooked or scared of anything they will encounter while inside a nursing home facility (for example like medicine carts rolling by, loud oxygen tanks that might be on in the rooms they go in, heart monitors beeping, TV's playing, etc.). But the most extensive part of the training process is from consistent exposure to different environments and situations. The amount of experience they get is vital to therapy training. They are also taught to walk over obstacles such as poles, tarps and jumps and pick up objects as well as go up steps and ramps.
Q: How much training do they receive?
A: They receive anywhere from 40-60 hours of therapy training. The hours of training received is a wide range as this gives the horse as well as the trainer the ability to learn and teach at their own pace. Any horse trainer will tell you that each horse is individual in their learning process. Some horses are faster learners then others which means their training is completed sooner then most. Then there are some horses that require you to go much slower in their training resulting in a longer training process. The horses are worked with on a daily basis either doing ground training, therapy training or visiting nursing homes. But they always make sure they are given plenty of play time every day to just have fun and be horses. The Therapy Angels & All Star Farm's team do not believe in rushing a horse's training. They go very slow with them and let them learn at their own pace. While this may result in it taking longer to complete their training , they feel that it is the best approach for the well being of the horse.
Q: Are they only trained to go to nursing homes?
A: No. Our program is very diverse as the miniature horses are exposed to anything and everything. The horses in our program are literally trained to go indoors as well as outdoors. Besides nursing homes, the minis get exposure and training at churches, daycares, schools, hospice centers, doctor offices, physical therapy centers, libraries, hospitals, various events, kids parties and more!. Over the course of 24+ years, The Therapy Angels and All Star Farm have attended several thousands of various events and shows with their full size horses and miniature horses. One of the most noted events they do is the Equine Affaire where for the last 15 years they have presented their therapy horses to the public through clinics and demonstrations. Their miniature horses have also done commercials and been part of reality shows.
Q: Who evaluates the horses for their therapy horse registration?
A: The breeders and trainers themselves do. The horses were evaluated by the breeders and trainers and then registered in this program based on their own personal evaluations of the horses they have trained. In essence the certificate of registration is proof and validation of that training that the trainers and breeders will proudly support. The trainers & breeders at The Therapy Angels & All Star Farm have 24+ years training and breeding horses. They are very knowledgeable in the care and training process that goes into training horses. They have been successful in the show world with full size horses for 22+ years in halter, western pleasure and hunter/jumper with a multitude of horse breeds from Warmbloods, Thoroughbreds, Quarter Horses, Welsh Ponies, Connemara's, Paints, Arabians and Gypsy Vanners to name a few. They have 20+ years alone of breeding and training miniature horses for therapy use as well as showing in the show ring in halter, trail, liberty, in hand jumping and pleasure driving. They are also accomplished trick trainers and have trick trained horses for many celebrities. With their extensive and very diverse training background, they are able to train any horse for any discipline or situation. So the certificate of registration from this program is validation of the training received from these well qualified trainers & breeders.
Q: How many people are part of the team that train and evaluate the horses?
A: There are 2 trainers that work with and train the horses and 2 trainers & 1 witness that evaluates them for their registration. The horses are evaluated at their farm or at a therapy facility. The show exhibition team consists anywhere from 5-12 people depending on how large the event is they are attending. Usually when they are just doing regular visits at nursing homes, they have a team of 2-3 people that handle the horses.
Q: Do the horses have a check list criteria to follow to become a registered therapy horse?
A: We do not do a "check list". When training a horse for any discipline regardless of the breed, if you are a trainer then you should know what you are doing and what steps you have to do to train that horse properly. As a trainer, you either know what you are doing or you don't (and if you don't then you obviously shouldn't be training). The horse is either trained or its not. You do not need a check list to show you what to train that horse for, you should already know. All therapy training must start with basic ground training first. They must be taught to halter, lead and walk on a lead quietly. When asked to stop or "whoa".... they stop. When asked to back.... they back. It is really that simple. When someone reaches out to pet them, they stand still and welcome the pet from them. The horses get the most training from the experience. The more exposure and experience they receive, the better they will become. But before any of that takes place, the general ground training must be completed first. Part of the ground training involves from them actually bringing the minis inside the house - what better way to get a horse acclimated to being indoors then by bringing them in the house :) Still the proof is in the pudding as they say. That is why the trainers and breeders of The Therapy Angels & All Star Farm provide pictures and detailed videos showing the training the horses have received and the horses that have been going out on therapy visits, they provide videos of them doing therapy work at a facility. The videos and pictures alone are proof the horse is trained. You don't need a written criteria to show you. The proof is in the pics and videos.
Q: What makes a good therapy mini horse?
A: Temperament is important first and foremost. The mini must be people friendly, gentle and enjoy working with people. Since the majority of the therapy trained miniature horses in our program were born at The Therapy Angels & All Star Farm, they are handled everyday from the moment they are born and their basic training literally starts when they are only 2 weeks of age and is finished when the trainers feel the foals have completed their training which is anywhere on average from 8-10 months of age. The foals are out of therapy trained mares and the foals always go with their moms on visits to nursing homes, they are never separated not until it is weaning time (which is at 6 months of age). Full grown miniature horses that were purchased and not born on their farm, will receive 40-60 hours of therapy training depending on the horse's learning capability. You can't put the same exact amount of training time on every single miniature horse. Not all minis are equal. They are all different and each mini learns at its own pace.
Q: What does gold, silver and blue star registered mean in your program?
A: The color of star on the certificate depends on how many visits the horse has done and their level of training. Any mini that is still in training will receive a Silver Star on their registration certificate which means they are a therapy horse but are still considered "in training" because they have not yet received enough experience to get their gold star. Gold Star horses are minis that have done at least 20 therapy visits OR has 40-60 hours of therapy training and has received enough training to be considered a fully trained and very experienced therapy horse. A Blue Star is an award given to any mini that has either been a working therapy horse with over 40 visits and/or any mini that has showcased remarkable performances and achievements in the therapy community by working directly with individuals with special needs.
Q: I want to renew my certificate with your program, what is the cost to do that and are there any added fees?
A: There are no added registration fees to register a horse in our program other then a $50.00 renewal fee to renew an expired certificate. You will need to send with the $50.00 fee, current pics of the horse taken of the right and left side as well as a 30-60 second video showing you are still using the mini for therapy work.
Q: Why do your certificates have expiration dates?
A: For a couple reasons. One is foals are always growing and changing especially their coat color and so to keep their certificates current with how they look today as well as keeping track of their training, the certificate must be renewed every 12 months on horses that are either silver star or gold star with new pics showing how they look today. Blue Star horses are renewed every 24 months. The pictures also confirm that they still have the mini that the certificate was originally registered to. Colts (if dropped) must be gelded by 2 years of age in order to get a new updated certificate which will then state on their certificate that they are now a gelding. Full grown Mature Stallions are not eligible for this program. Lastly, once a mini has changed hands, we want to keep on top of how their training is maintained by making sure the training has not been altered in anyway which we find out when the required video for renewal is sent in for viewing. Mishandling of any horse can cause them to lose trust and undo any training put in them. It doesn't matter how well trained they are to start with, if you mishandle a horse you can undo the training that had been put into them. Any trainer with knowledge will tell you that. As the horse's well being is most important to us we want to keep tabs on the horse and how they are being handled thus why we require our certificates to be updated yearly and videos to see how the horse is being handled and treated. Expiration dates are common practice. In fact other legit therapy registration programs also have expiration dates like ours. Any program that does not have expiration dates are most likely not a true therapy registration program.
Q: Are you affiliated or associated with any other therapy programs or associations?
A: No. Because we are a closed private program. We only register miniature horses that were born and/or trained or evaluated by The Therapy Angels & All Star Farm. The Therapy Angels & All Star Farm take pride in the many years of hard work and dedication they put into their breeding and training program in order to produce horses that have all the standards to be a certified therapy horse and therefore we only support a program like ours that validates the quality and training that is produced by them. We do not register outside horses not unless they are physically on location with The Therapy Angels & All Star Farm team and trained by or evaluated by them. We also do not affiliate with other therapy associations since The Therapy Angels & All Star Farm have their own training methods and qualifications which we feel are the best since they have the extensive knowledge that goes with owning, breeding and training miniature horses for many years. However any of the miniature horses from The Therapy Angels & All Star Farm that now have new owners are welcome to get them registered in another therapy association or program they want. In fact all the miniature horses that the new owners have got from our program that have done so, passed their evaluation with flying colors in other associations.
Q: Do you register all breeds of horses and animals like other associations do?
A: No. Our program is strictly for miniature horses only. We do not register full size horses or any other type of animal. We feel that therapy animals are the same but different. They are the same in the sense that they all can be trained to do therapy work in the right hands and best of all is they love doing it, it seems natural to them. However the method of training for each type of animal out there is different especially when it comes to horses particularly minis. You do not train a horse the same way you do a dog or bird and vice versa. We also believe the trainers should have extensive knowledge (meaning many years) of owning and training that animal to be qualified to evaluate and register one for therapy. I would not expect nor want a dog or bird trainer to train or evaluate my horse. We specialize in registering only miniature horses for therapy use as that is where the breeders and trainers at The Therapy Angels & All Star Farm's specialize and have extensive knowledge in.
Q: Can we come with you when you do a nursing home visit to see what it is like?
A: Sure!, you are welcome to meet the team at a nursing home and watch the smiles these little horses bring to the faces of all that meet them! You will enjoy it as much as they do!
Q: Are the miniature horses potty trained?
A: They are not "house broke" but they are "potty trained". The type of potty training they are trained for is knowing to do their "business" in the designated area inside the van where they ride or some miniatures will just wait until they get back home. Miniatures in particular are very picky when it comes to where they do their "business". They actually prefer to do it outside in the grass or in the comfort of their stall at home where they know it will be private. This is why you will rarely have a mini that does their "business" while inside a facility. But if you are worried about potty accidents, there is a place that makes diapers for minis that you can put on them to avoid accidents.
Q: I have a miniature horse, how do I get it involved with doing therapy work?
A: Assuming you have one that is very well trained and certified already. Then all you need to do is start getting connections at nursing home facilities in your area. First thing to do is contact local nursing homes in your area and see if you can schedule visits with your miniature horse. 99% of the time, nursing homes are over the moon when they find out mini horses can do therapy and always accept them with open arms for visits anytime. Therapy work with miniature horses is very well received almost anywhere in the world. In fact we have working therapy trained miniature horses from our program in Hawaii, Costa Rica, England, Ireland, France, Russia, Brazil, Malaysia, Greece and Australia!. Everyone loves the therapy minis as they are cute and small and truly love what they do. However, please note that if you own a miniature horse that is not trained. I would not advise taking it anywhere until it has the proper training to do so.
Q: I have a miniature horse and I want to therapy train it myself. Can I register it in your program?
A: We have had so many requests for this that we are now offering this option to everyone. To register your horse in our therapy program there is an evaluation fee and your horse must be brought to our facility and put through our extensive evaluation test which will take at least 2 hours (or more). We have plenty of space if you or your horse need to stay the night. If your horse passes the evaluation test then you pay the registration fee and you will receive the certificate of registration in the mail within a few days. Email or call for more info on what the test covers so you can be prepared for what will be asked of your horse.
Q: I own a miniature horse that is already registered as a therapy horse. Do I need certification for myself as the handler and owner?
A: Contrary to what you may read on the internet, no, it is not necessary for an owner and/or handler to be certified to handle and/or own a therapy trained miniature horse for therapy use at nursing homes. It has been our experience over many years that it is not a requirement for a handler and/or owner to be certified in order to do visits. However if you feel it is necessary for your own peace of mind, then you should do so.
Q: I have never owned a horse before but I have a place to keep a horse and want to get a therapy trained mini and do therapy work with it. Do I need training on how to handle and care for it?
A: If you are new to owning a miniature horse, you can still get a therapy trained miniature horse. All Star Farm has a wonderful page on their website that tells all about the care of a miniature horse. They will also help you with any questions you have and guide you in the right direction. They will do anything you need to help make the transition easier on you and your new mini. When you first get your new therapy mini, the best thing to do is spend as much time with it as possible at home first before taking it out for visits. Getting to know your new mini is very important. You want to create that bond between you and the horse so the transition is easier as well as making your first visits as a new team together go smoother. You are also more then welcome to come to our facility and we can spend a day or two teaching you what you need to know with owning and handling a therapy miniature horse.
Q: I rescued a mini that has less then desirable conformation. Can it still be a therapy horse?
A: Absolutely!. Any mini can be a therapy horse just as long as they are sound, have a good disposition and proper training.
Q: I noticed the therapy minis wear a vest and shoes, is this a requirement to go into facilities?
A: No it is not a requirement for them to wear a vest for visits, but we strongly suggest they wear one as it is a symbol that shows the mini is a working therapy horse by wearing the vest. They do not always need to wear shoes, it solely depends on the type of floor they have to walk on. Carpet is not slippery so shoes are not needed. But tile, wood, slate, marble, or any other type of slippery textured floor can be dangerous for a mini to walk on without shoes. They can easily slip and fall and hurt themselves. So for safely reason we strongly suggest putting shoes on the mini if they are going to be walking on any type of slippery textured floor. Dog Shoes work great for minis and can be purchased in Pet stores or online. The vests which are the same as dog vests can also be found online.