Are there specific horse breeds used in therapy or equine assisted activities?




Horses have long been recognized for their therapeutic abilities and have been used in various forms of therapy and equine-assisted activities for decades. These activities have proven to be beneficial for individuals with physical, emotional, and cognitive challenges. However, not all horse breeds are suitable for these activities. In this article, we will explore whether there are specific horse breeds that are commonly used in therapy or equine-assisted activities.

The Role of Horses in Therapy

Horses have a unique ability to establish a deep connection with humans, which makes them excellent partners in therapy. Equine-assisted activities involve interactions between humans and horses, which can include riding, grooming, groundwork, and other horse-related tasks. These activities aim to improve physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

Characteristics of Horses Suitable for Therapy

While horses from various breeds can participate in therapy or equine-assisted activities, certain characteristics make some breeds more suitable than others. Here are some key traits to consider when selecting horses for therapy:


Horses used in therapy should possess a calm and gentle temperament. They must be patient, tolerant, and able to handle unpredictable situations without becoming stressed or agitated. This temperament allows them to work effectively with individuals who may have physical or emotional challenges.

Size and Conformation

The size and conformation of the horse also play a crucial role in therapy. Horses used in therapy should typically be large enough to accommodate riders of various sizes and ages. Additionally, their conformation should be well-suited for carrying a rider comfortably and maintaining balance while performing therapeutic activities.

Comfortable Gaits

Horses with smooth and comfortable gaits are preferred for therapy or equine-assisted activities. This is important to ensure the comfort and safety of individuals who may have physical limitations or sensory sensitivities. Horses with bumpy or jolting gaits may exacerbate certain physical conditions or cause discomfort.

Training and Experience

Horses used in therapy should have undergone specific training to work with individuals in a therapeutic setting. They should be well-trained and responsive to cues from both the rider and the therapist. Experience working with individuals with disabilities or specific therapy goals is also valuable, as it ensures the horse can adapt to the unique needs and challenges of therapy sessions.

Breeds Commonly Used in Therapy

While no specific breed is exclusively used for therapy or equine-assisted activities, certain breeds are known for their suitability and prevalence in these settings. Here are some breeds commonly used:

American Quarter Horse

The American Quarter Horse is a versatile breed known for its calm temperament, strength, and athleticism. Their even temperament and willingness to work make them ideal for various therapeutic activities, including riding, groundwork, and equine-assisted psychotherapy.


Thoroughbreds, despite their association with racing, can also excel in therapy programs. They are intelligent, sensitive, and often exhibit a strong desire to please their handlers. Thoroughbreds' athleticism and responsiveness make them suitable for therapeutic riding and other activities.


Morgans are known for their versatility and sound temperament, making them popular choices for therapy work. They have a gentle nature, adaptability, and are often easy to train. Morgans are frequently used in therapeutic riding programs due to their comfortable gaits and patient demeanor.


Haflingers are a sturdy and compact breed, making them well-suited for carrying riders of different sizes. They are known for their docile nature, patience, and willingness to work. Haflingers' calm demeanor and comfortable gaits make them suitable for both therapy riding and groundwork activities.

Welsh Pony

Welsh Ponies are smaller in size but possess a gentle and kind temperament. Their manageable size makes them suitable for children and individuals with smaller frames. Welsh Ponies are often used in therapeutic riding programs, helping individuals with disabilities develop balance, coordination, and confidence.


While there are no specific horse breeds exclusively used in therapy or equine-assisted activities, certain breeds possess the ideal temperament, size, conformation, gaits, and training for these settings. The American Quarter Horse, Thoroughbred, Morgan, Haflinger, and Welsh Pony are some examples of breeds commonly used in therapy programs. These horses play a crucial role in providing individuals with physical, emotional, and cognitive challenges the opportunity to benefit from equine-assisted activities and therapy. If you are interested in learning more about horses as pets or therapy animals, visit our website for valuable information and resources.

Julieth Bill

Hi, I'm Julieth Bill. Before I was a writer for the blog I was known for inventive and unusual treatments of dogs, cats, bird, fish, snakes, horses, rabbit, reptiles, and guinea pigs. Julieth worked for major zoos around the world. He Also Receives Pets a Scholarship.

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