Selection and Retention of Therapy Horses

With Guest Chatter Dr. Robin Foster, CAAB


The health benefits of human-animal interactions have been well-documented. Thousands of horses provide therapy to people with a wide range of physical, cognitive, and emotional abilities.  Some unique features of horses, compared to dogs and other therapy and service animals, is that they are large and strong, and can be ridden.

Unfortunately, horses are often released from work for behavioral and physical problems.  At present no formal standards exist for evaluating temperamental and behavioral qualities that make a ‘good’ therapy or service horse. This Chat focuses on the development of a screening tool to improve the selection of horses for therapy and service work.

Once selected and trained, a second goal is to keep the horse healthy and happy.  Incorporating ongoing assessments to identify early signs of behavioral and physical issues can help increase retention. Good screening tests have the potential to improve animal welfare and reduce program costs.

This CAAB Chat on is based on a presentation from the 2016 Animal Behavior Society conference. It was  one of a series of talks in the Public Day program on Animals Helping in Society, and given in collaboration with Dr. Sue McDonnell, PhD, CAAB.

The Chat is now completed and the video replay is available at the bottom of the page for those purchasing it.

Couldn’t make the live chat? No worries, you can purchase the recorded replay now for only $15.00 through PayPal. You do not need a PayPal account you can use your credit card.


BEST VALUE – Join BEN!! Want access to ALL past and future CAAB Chat replays? Join Behavior Education Network and enjoy this and many more member benefits including exclusive BEN webinars EVERY month, weekly Biscuits (articles) on useful and important topics.

Not a member of BEN?

BehaviorEducation-7-14 cropLearn More at and Join us Today!

Current BEN Members: Pro Members have unlimited access to all CAABChat replays through your direct access to BEN. Do NOT try to use your BEN credentials here. They will not work. Log into BEN HERE

Here is the link to the video Dr. Foster showed and the list of resources for equine therapy/service programs.
Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center Video

EAAT / AAT Organizations
• Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) International
• Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA)
• Pet Partners—Therapy Pets and Animal Assisted Activities
• Guide Horse Foundation
• Horses for Heroes
• Horses and Humans Research Foundation
• IAHAIO (International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organizations)
• Human-Animal Interaction Studies Colorado State University
• Institute for Human-Animal Connection University of Denver