hippotherapy isn’t with hippopotamuses! it’s from the Greek work hippo for horse!

Hippotherapy is a modality of occupational, physical, or speech therapy. A qualified therapist uses a horse’s movement as a treatment tool to meet therapy goals. 

The unique physical movements of a horse challenges a client’s balance thousands of times per session! The average therapy horse takes more than 2000 steps per session, providing thousands of opportunities for a child to improve their balance, core strength, and motor planning. These skills underlie goals such as playing on the playground, holding a spoon, climbing steps, and speaking. 

The proprioceptive and vestibular input from riding on the horse can be regulating to the sensory system and allow clients to focus better in activities off horseback.

Like any occupational, physical, or speech therapy, intervention begins with an evaluation to establish goals, which may be covered by your insurance. Your therapist will discuss your concerns with you and work together to create a plan of care.

Our hippotherapy sessions are one hour long, with 15 minutes spent upon arrival doing preparatory activities with your child to get their bodies and sensory systems ready to get on the horse. Then, 30 minutes are spent on horseback to use the horse’s movement to encourage all parts of the body to work together. Finally, 15 minutes are spent off the horse, using the client’s calm and ready learning state to focus intensely on fine-tuning goal performance.

Team members that participate in each hippotherapy session are the therapist, who is responsible for planning and directing the therapy session and activities; the horse handler, who is responsible for controlling the behavior and performance of the horse; and one or more side-walkers, who are responsible for assisting children to maintain balance for safety when needed. 

All therapists who participate in our Hippotherapy program are licensed and registered in their disciplines, and have received additional training through the American Hippotherapy Association.

For questions or to schedule an appointment, please contact hippotherapy@joyopensdoors.com!