I work at a Therapeutic Riding School, and the owner recently bought a New Forest pony to be the newest addition to the school string. I'm an experienced rider, as are one of the other girls I work with. The owner has decided we're up for the challenge and has put us in charge of training Bear (the pony.) 

I believe he's aprox. 8 years old and is 14.2hh. He had only ever been ridden bareback on the trails. Does anyone have any suggestions on training him to accept the saddle, get used to an indoor arena (as he's never seen one and is terrified) and desensitize him to the often random and quick motions of the riding school kids. 

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Can you find a person who already knows how to ride but who needs therapeutic riding?  I have MS, I ride at three stables, and each stable uses me to teach horses that they need to listen to the rider even if the rider is shaky, unbalanced, uncoordinated, etc..

This of course will have to wait until you get said pony trained, at least to a green-broke level under tack.  As for the indoor, make it a pleasant place!  Don't ride at first, go slowly, get him in, give him a treat and lots of scratches then take him out once he relaxes.  As time goes on back off from the treats quickly (if you do it three times in a row he might get an entitlement mentality.)  If you are not on his back you won't add to his worries.  Be calm, grounded, and treat it as a wonderful experience with that wonderful horse.

I founded and ran a very successful Immediate Intervention Equitherapy program many years ago designed to help severely abused children regain a foothold on life.

All the program horses were certified Pet Partners by Delta Society and passed my own evaluation as well, (which is a bit more comprehensive to adolescent/equine interaction).
If you would like more information, feel free to email me.


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