Hippotherapy is a physical, occupational, and speech-language therapy treatment strategy that utilizes equine movement as part of an integrated intervention plan. Horses provide multidimensional movement, making them an excellent tool for increasing trunk strength, control, and balance.
Equine movement can also be used to facilitate coordination and timing, grading of responses, respiratory control, sensory integration skills, and attention skills. Patients respond enthusiastically to this enjoyable experience in a natural setting.
Physical Therapists use the movement of the horse to increase range of motion, strength, balance, postural control, and endurance, which promote functional outcomes in areas related to gross motor ability such as sitting, standing, and walking.
Occupational Therapists are able to combine the effects of equine movement with other standard intervention strategies to work on fine motor control, sensory integration, attention skills, and functional daily living skills in a progressively challenging manner.
Speech-Language Pathologists use equine movement to facilitate the physiologic systems that support speech and language. When combined with other standard speech-language intervention strategies, hippotherapy can help improve communication disorders.
The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) and American Physical Therapy Association support the use of hippotherapy within the context of physical and occupational therapy sessions as a treatment tool.
Click here to read about the differences between hipportherapy and therapeutic riding.
AOTA Letter of Endorsement
APTA Letter of Endorsement