These courses are mandatory to become eligible for PATH Registered Therapist or HPCS. The Level II Curriculum is designed for licensed PT’s, OT’s, SLP’s, PTA’s, OTA’s, and SLPA’s. AHA, Inc. recommends therapists have at least 2 years clinical experience in their field treating and handling patients incorporating a variety of treatment strategies in a non-hippotherapy setting.

Candidates for attending the Level II courses are therapists who have completed Level I and can:

1.  Explain how the horse’s movement affects human systems

2.  Explain the principles of hippotherapy

3.  Recognize possible patient responses to the movement of the horse

4.  Describe the selection and use of hippotherapy equipment for the horse and patient

5.  Be proficient in patient evaluation, patient and horse selection and treatment planning specifically incorporating hippotherapy

6.  Understand the importance of horse suitability and movement to hippotherapy

7.  Explain the use of school figures and movement progressions in treatment to maximize the effects of the movement of the horse

8.  Implement appropriate safety procedures in the hippotherapy setting

9.  Provide effective leadership of the hippotherapy team

10. Describe the unique contributions and potential benefit of the horse’s movement as a treatment strategy

It is strongly recommended that therapists complete 30 hours of hippotherapy experience prior to taking Level II in order to benefit from the treatment sessions during the course.

Therapists must attend all four days of the course to receive a certificate of attendance.

The first portion of this four day workshop targets therapists giving them the training principles needed and how they are applied in a hippotherapy session to improve your horse and the efficacy of hippotherapy as a treatment strategy. The curriculum may be used only under conditions set forth by AHA, Inc.

Intended Audience:

All therapists must have taken Level l Hippotherapy Treatment Principles and provide a copy of their attendance certificate to the Level II hosting facility Therapists must attend all four days of the Level II Hippotherapy Treatment Principles course.

Days 1-2 Course Objectives Include:

Recognize the importance of a common horsemanship knowledge base for the therapist, horse professional and all members of the hippotherapy team.

  • Identify preferred conformation and understand the relationship between conformation, movement quality and soundness for the hippotherapy horse.
  • Demonstrate the ability to access a horse for soundness, regularity and evenness of gait, straightness and flexibility.
  • Demonstrate the ability to access horse behaviors including those resulting from stress and/or discomfort.
  • Identify and convey to the horse handler the necessary skills required to produce quality movement when leading, lungeing or long lining the hippotherapy horse.
  • Understand training techniques for a hippotherapy horse including groundwork, desensitization, and conditioning.
  • Understand the principles of good nutrition, veterinary and worming protocols for horses in a hippotherapy program.
  • Understand the importance of and be able to identify handling and riding skills that are necessary to maintain and/or improve the hippotherapy horse.
  • Create and understand the importance of having a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly schedule for the hippotherapy horse.
  • Understand the need to educate and train staff and/or volunteers who will be working with the hippotherapy horse, either in hippotherapy sessions or involved with the daily care and training routines, the handling techniques and training protocols to maintain a safe, effective and successful hippotherapy program.
  • Identify lameness and illness in the hippotherapy horse and explain appropriate prevention through veterinary, farrier and nutritional and training protocols.

The 2nd portion of the 4 day course is designed to provide and facilitate a problem solving treatment approach, using actual patients currently involved in Hippotherapy as part of their physical, occupational or speech therapy treatment. Practical applications to NDT, SI and Motor Learning Theory and Clinical Reasoning will be applied to the hippotherapy treatment strategy as well as an introduction to the Hippotherapy Conceptual Framework Theory. Therapists will be treating actual patients within a Hippotherapy Team, including video taping and group discussions to further advance the learning experience. This course may be attended by licensed, Speech, Physical and Occupational Therapists and assistants (PTA, COTA, SLPA). The curriculum may be used only under conditions set by AHA, Inc.

The AHA Education Committee recommendation is to have 30 treatment hours of experience of 1:1 patient treatments incorporating hippotherapy as a treatment strategy before taking Level II Hippotherapy Treatment Principles.

Intended Audience:

PT’s, PTA’s, OT’s, COTA’s, SLP’s and SLPA’s who have taken the Level l Hippotherapy Treatment Principles and have 2 years clinical experience in their field treating and handling patients in a non hippotherapy environment. It is suggested, but not required, that you have 30 hours of treating with hippotherapy after completing the Level l Curriculum.

Course Objectives Include:

  • Develop a hippotherapy treatment plan based on a disablement model.
  • Select objective outcome measures for pre and post testing.
  • Select appropriate horse and equipment for a specific patient.
  • Practice modifications of equine movement as a primary method of enhancing patient treatment outcomes.
  • Understand the relationship between treatment and functional outcomes.
  • Identify appropriate functional outcome measures for hippotherapy patients.
  • Review best practice guidelines for documentation, HIPAA compliance, and written and verbal communication among Hippotherapy Team members, other medical professionals and third party payers.
  • Engage in group problem-solving using video review and discussion as a model for collaborative treatment practices.
  • Be introduced to the following concepts as a foundation for advanced clinical problem solving:
    • Clinical Reasoning
    • Hippotherapy Conceptual Framework
  • Recognize and discuss indications for alternative positions and equipment.
  • Recognize the importance of setting discharge criteria and establishing discharge planning, including potential for transitioning to community based programs.