What Is Hippotherapy?
Hippotherapy, or horse-mounted therapy is a form of occupational, physical, and speech/language therapy in which a therapist uses the characteristic movements of a horse to provide carefully graded motor and sensory input. The movement of the horse is a means to a treatment goal when utilizing hippotherapy as a treatment strategy.
How Do Occupational, Physical, and Speech/Language Therapists Utilize Hippotherapy?
Hippotherapy meets Occupational Therapy
Occupational therapists providing hippotherapy utilize the movement of the horse to improve motor control, coordination, balance, attention, sensory processing and performance in daily tasks.
The reciprocal multi-dimensional movement of the horse helps with the development of:
Hippotherapy meets Physical Therapy
Hippotherapy meets Speech/Language Therapy
Speech Therapists use the repetitive, rhythmical, organized movement of the horse to facilitate organization in the mind and body of the child. This organized thinking helps the child to put their words and thoughts together to communicate more effectively. Since the riders are very motivated for their horses to start moving, it is often seen that a child will say their first words (“Walk On, Angel”) in effort to get their horse to go!
Incorporating hippotherapy into a speech/language pathology session is a powerful tool for the facilitation of the key neuromotor systems that support function. Speech therapists combine therapy activities off of the horse with therapy on the horse (hippotherapy) to achieve the greatest outcomes.