The Greek work ‘hippos’ means horse. Hippotherapy is using the horse as a tool to achieve therapy goals as designed by a physical therapist, occupational therapist, or speech and language pathologist to meet the individuals goals. Emphasis is on achieving therapy goals, not on teaching riding skills. Special equipment and various developmental positions may be used to help the client reach these therapy goals.
Why is Hippotherapy beneficial?
The three dimensional gait of the horse, which closely simulates the movement of the human pelvis while walking, is unique and valuable as a treatment tool. It provides a ever- changing/ challenging, dynamic surface to facilitate movement. It challenges the body in all planes of movement requiring an adaptive response from the over all system. The movement provides a systems wide impact that reaches physical, cognitive, emotional, and psychosocial areas of performance. The unique sensory rich environment allows for increased sensory input for individuals whose delayed systems may not be receiving enough input for daily function. The warmth and gentle rhythm of the horse united with the natural human/ animal bond that draws us to animals is another unique and valuable characteristic of the horse as a treatment tool.
Who can benefit from Hippotherapy?
Clients with various impairments such as Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Developmental Delay, Muscular Dystrophy, Multiple Sclerosis, Traumatic Brain Injury, Arthritis, Scoliosis, Spinal Cord Injury, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, etc. may benefit from Hippotherapy. Client ages vary from very young clients to senior citizens. All precautions and contra-indications as prescribed by our national governing body, North American Riding for the Handicapped and the American Hippotherapy Association, apply to our program’s services. AHA is an excellent resource for obtaining information regarding Hippotherapy and can be reached at 1-800-369-7433 or at their website, American Hippotherapy Association.