Children with disabilities

Parental perceptions of the effect of child participation in hippotherapy programme on overall improvement of child mental and physical wellbeing

Michał Pluta



The equine-facilitated sessions for a group of kids under the preschool integrated unit were carried out at the Felin Experimental Farm, University of Life Sciences in Lublin from May 2009 till June 2010. The data of patients including their medical history and physician`s referral to the therapeutic horseback riding together with the 12 question-survey completed by parents provided the basis for evaluating the usability and appropriateness of the equine therapy in the subjective parental assessment. The study group comprised 14 people, i.e. 8 girls and 6 boys aged from 3.5 up to 6.5 years (x = 5.21 S = 1.12). Eight kids had infantile cerebral palsy (ICP, 57.14% of studied patients), two patients – autism (14.28%) and another two-psychomotor retardation, while one child was affected by a genetic disorder and one was blind. The equine-assisted services were conducted once a week. 


The information collected from parent surveys reporting the discussed hippotherapeutic situations in one riding center evidences the mostly positive effect of equine-assisted therapy on handicapped kids. Improvement in emotional and physical wellbeing is directly related to therapy regularity and thus, patient attendance. hippotherapy benefits include improved self- confidence, trust, social acceptance and courage in getting over new unknown difficulties.