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Horse Selection Guidelines

Donate or Lease a Horse to Three Gaits 

It would be impossible for Three Gaits to provide any equine activities without the generosity of the many people who have shared their horses. As valued members of the team, Three Gaits' horses' happiness and well being is our priority. 

Our School Horses
Sponsor a Current Horse
Adopt a Retiring Horse
Donate a Horse

We have guidelines that we follow in evaluating prospective horses for our riding program that lead us to select horses that are ideally suited to their job at Three Gaits. 

Our "best" program horses have had the following factors in common:

1) Horses are between 8-18 years old.

We will accept horses older and younger than this, depending upon the horse's training and condition. Because we put a lot of time and energy into training our horses, and become very attached to them, we want our program horses to be able to stay at Three Gaits for many years to come.

2) Horses are sound (in all four limbs) and healthy.

Unsound horses aren't safe - an uncomfortable horse may display unpredictable behavior. Soundness is extremely important in order to provide rhythmical, cadenced and free-moving gaits. Any unevenness in a horse's gait can be magnified for a rider with a disability - and can actually cause a negative effect. A horse with an unbalanced stride could cause our riders discomfort or to lose their balance.

Horses must not have any limitations in vision and shouldn't have respiratory problems or other on-going health issues that require the additional expenses of upkeep and/or limit their ability to provide a safe activity for our riders.

Horses with limited use - meaning that they can be ridden by children, or only at the walk, with limited trotting, or for grooming only - aren't able to best serve the diversity of our riders. While some riders do not trot or canter, many do. Three Gaits strives to provide that experience and level of challenge for our riders.

3) Horses who enjoy being around people.

Three Gaits' horses are not asked to work for more than a total of four classes per day, and never more than three classes in a row. (Most of our classes are 30 minutes long.) Over the course of a day, horses are exposed to a variety of people. They may be handled by volunteers, riders as well as staff at Three Gaits. During classes a horse may have a leader and up to two sidewalkers, in addition to a rider.

4) Horses have been well-trained and consistently worked with through-out their lives.

While there are no requirements for the discipline in which the horse is trained - we have horses that have been shown extensively in western pleasure, dressage or over fences, and others that have been used as pony club or 4-H mounts, as polo horses or field hunters - but the common factor is that they have been consistently worked with and have a "take it all in stride" attitude.

5) Although almost any breed of horse can be used, horses that are between 14-16 hands and built sturdy enough to carry an adult are ideal.

If you have or know of a horse that you think may be suitable for Three Gaits, please contact us either by phone or e-mail to discuss. Horses that live at Three Gaits are either leased to Three Gaits - meaning that the horse's owner lends their horse to the program but maintains ownership of the horse - or horses are donated directly to the program. Since Three Gaits is a non-profit, the donation of a horse can be tax-deductible.

Once we speak with you, if we determine that your horse seems appropriate for our program, we schedule a time to come and visit you and your horse. From there we will arrange for the horse to be transported to Three Gaits to have our veterinarian meet and evaluate the horse, and begin a trial period (30 days for leased horses and 90 days for donated horses). During the trial period, we expose the horse to the many toys, games and activities that they will encounter at Three Gaits. We work with them to see how they stand quietly for different styles of mounting and dismounting, by ramps and mounting blocks and to see how they tolerate the mistakes of a beginning rider or a loss of balance. We also evaluate whether they seem to adapt to the lifestyle of working with many different people each day. 

Again, thank you for considering your horse as a potential mount for Three Gaits riders. We appreciate your consideration and are touched that you thought of Three Gaits as a potential home for your horse.


Three Gaits, Inc.     Therapeutic Horsemanship Center
(608) 877-9086     3gaits@3gaits.org
Mailing Address:  P.O. Box 153     Oregon, WI  53575
Physical Address (No Mail):  3741 Hwy 138 W     Stoughton, WI  53589


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Page Last Modified 01/24/17