What is hippotherapy?

Hippotherapy (HPOT) is a treatment technique that uses the multidimensional movements of a horse to facilitate improved function for the client/rider.  The horse’s walk provides sensory input through movement; this input simulates the movement pattern of a human’s pelvis when walking.  This treatment can improve balance, posture, strength, mobility, endurance, tonal abnormalities, sensory integration, and overall function.  It also positively impacts the client’s cognitive, behavioral, and communication skills. 

Hippotherapy uses activities on the horse that are meaningful to the client.  Each treatment session is a hands-on approach by the therapist, while others are leading the horse and guiding the child’s movements as needed. Why the term “hippo” therapy?  Hippo comes from the Greek word “hippos”, which means horse.

What is the difference between hippotherapy and adaptive riding?  Hippotherapy is treatment performed by a physical, occupational, or speech therapist.  It is a one-on-one treatment approach that focuses on the client’s movement and function, with specific measureable goals.  Adaptive riding utilizes a therapy horse and a riding instructor to teach children and adults with special needs specific riding skills.  Adaptive riding is typically done in small groups.

For more information about therapeutic riding, click on the button below to visit Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.)