StableStrides Mini Horses in METSA Training

Our mini horses are currently in training to certify as visiting therapy horses. We are utilizing an organization called METSA (Miniature Therapy Equine | METSA (miniatureequinetherapy.org). All Equine Therapy teams are required to complete an extensive, hands-on team qualification evaluation designed specifically for equine and pass at one of three levels: Intermediate Level I, Advanced Level II, Masters Level III. The Qualification Evaluation assesses the team’s ability to work together in a therapeutic setting, safely and proficiently. Both Handler and Equine are expected to demonstrate professionalism, sociability, and the aptitude to perform visits as a team in different types of facilities with varying levels of abilities and interactions.

Some of what they already do as therapy horses at our two locations prepares them for this visiting type of work, though some things are more foreign to them still. Part of the training process we’ve created for them includes visiting workplaces to get used to being trailered more often, working in unconventional places for horses, and being handled by many more strangers throughout the week. 

Cheyenne, Dakota, and Kali were at UCHealth Adult Out-Patient Rehabilitation working with their handlers-in-training in becoming accustomed to a clinical environment. If you’ve ever taken a horse to a horse show for the first time, you know it can be stressful for the horse and for you. Our minis need to become proficient at traveling to strange concrete jungles, walking on surfaces like linoleum, tile, and carpet, and being comfortable being around equipment that we may take for granted. UCHealth Adult Out-Patient Rehabilitation is the first of many fun visits in the community where the minis and handlers are tackling the challenges like overstimulation, strange sounds coming from strange machines, and encouraging curiosity instead of a fear reaction to a new environment.

So far, over 20 StableStrides volunteers and staff members are working with our mini equines to accomplish this rigorous training and become certified handlers alongside their miniature partner.