Hippotherapy is a physical, occupational and speech-language therapy treatment strategy that utilizes equine movement as part of an integrated intervention program to achieve functional outcomes. Equine movement provides multi-dimensional movement, which is variable, rhythmic and repetitive. The horse provides a dynamic base of support, making it an excellent tool to increasing trunk strength and control, balance, building overall postural strength and endurance, addressing weight bearing, and motor planning.
The Occupational Therapist is able to combine the effects of the equine movement with other standard intervention strategies for working on fine motor control, sensory integration, feeding skills, attention skills, and functional daily living skills in a progressively challenging manner.
Why the Horse?
The horse's walk provides sensory input through movement, which is variable, rhythmic and repetitive. The resultant movement response in the patient is similar to human movement patterns of the pelvis while walking. The variability of the horse's gait enables the therapist to grade the degree of sensory input to the patient, and then utilize this movement in combination with other treatment strategies to achieve desired results. Patients respond enthusiastically to this enjoyable experience in a natural setting.
Indications for Hippotherapy
Children and adults with neuromusculoskeletal medical conditions, including: