Hippotherapy is a form of physical, occupational and speech therapy in which a therapist uses the characteristic movements of a horse to provide carefully graded motor and sensory input. A foundation is established to improve neurological function and sensory processing, which can be generalized to a wide range of daily activities. Unlike therapeutic horseback riding (where specific riding skills are taught), the movement of the horse is a means to a treatment goal or treatment strategy.
This strategy has been used to treat patients with neurological or other disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, stroke, and spinal cord injury.
EATSF currently offers physical therapy for its hippotherapy clients.
The physical therapist will change variables, including the horse’s speed, direction, position of the participant, and the therapeutic activities performed, to achieve the best outcome for the participant. Often, these participants can transition into the therapeutic riding program after their strength and balance have improved.