Is Hippotherapy for you?

Hippotherapy is one of our favorite programs offered here at Beyond Limits, and no, there are no hippos involved!

Fun Fact: Hippotherapy literally means “treatment with the help of the horse” from the Greek word, “hippos” meaning horse. See, you’re learning already!

Hippotherapy is a one-on-one treatment provided by an occupational, speech or physical therapist. While the participants are mounted, they will usually be on a bareback pad instead of a saddle. This is to be sure they get the full benefit of the motion and feel of the horse.  They will not be learning riding skills, so no saddle or reins are necessary. The horse is utilized for the dynamic movement patterns that are beneficial for improving strength, providing sensory input, and also for providing motivation for cognitive outcomes.  The horse’s movement is purposefully manipulated to provide the necessary input that ultimately results in functional outcomes in the individual.

At all times, there is direct hands-on participation by the therapist. Hippotherapy requires one or two volunteers per session depending on the client’s ability level. Typically there is a side walker to assist with the session and work in tandem with the therapist to ensure the safety of the client, and a leader that plays the integral role in managing the horse and manipulating movement patterns with the horse.  The treating therapist continually assesses and modifies therapy based on the child’s progress. The beauty is the ability to take traditional clinical therapy, and put it on the back of the horse!  By improving neurological function in cognition, body movement, organization, and attention levels our clients go on to realize functional outcomes leading to greater independence in life. Beyond Limits provides Hippotherapy for children approximately 4 years of age up to age 21.

If you’re unsure of which program suits your rider’s needs – check out the chart below!

Hippotherapy Therapeutic Riding
Physical, occupational, or speech therapy, prescribed by a physician and delivered by a team that includes a licensed, specially-trained therapist.

The horse’s movement is essential to assist in meeting therapy goals.

Recreational horseback riding lessons adapted to individuals with disabilities.
Completed by a licensed therapist (occupational therapist, physical therapist, or speech language pathologist) utilizing a specially-screened and -trained therapy horse and volunteers. Completed by a PATH Int. certified professional horseback-riding instructor in conjunction with volunteers as needed.
A one-on-one treatment designed to achieve individual therapeutic goals. Treatment generally occurs year-round until the client meets discharge criteria. The individual is taught riding skills in a one-on-one environment. Also goes year round and there is really no limit to what they can learn, and no discharge as therapeutic riding is a recreational sport.
There is direct hands-on participation by the therapist at all times. The treating therapist continually assesses and modifies therapy based on the client’s responses. There is occasional hands-on assistance by the riding instructor and/or volunteers, but the instructor usually teaches from the center of the arena.
The goal of hippotherapy is to improve neurological functioning in cognition, body movement, organization, and attention levels which ultimately translate to functional outcomes such as sequencing a dressing routine, or improving handwriting skills for a child receiving occupational therapy. The emphasis is on proper riding position and rein skills that coincide with functional therapeutic goals, but it doesn’t qualify as a true therapy.
Horses are specifically trained for this purpose and are selected for their temperament, size, and the type of movement they provide for the client. Horses have been specifically trained for this purpose and are selected and screened to make sure they have the appropriate temperament for the job.
Insurance may cover hippotherapy. Please call our office for more information. Because therapeutic riding is an adaptive/recreational/sport activity, not therapy, and is not covered by insurance. However, there often is funding available. Please visit our FAQ page for a list of resources.

Ready to get started? Contact us to learn more about beginning Hippotherapy!


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