Summary of the Systematic Review


Effects of Equine-Assisted Therapy on Gross Motor Skills of Two Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

Hawkins, B.L.Ryan, J.B.Cory, A. L.;  Donaldson, M.C.

Therapeutic Recreation Journal (2014) 



Many children with Autism Spectrum Disorder demonstrate deficits in gross motor skills, which hinder their ability to engage in athletic and other play activities.  This further inhibits their opportunities to engage in physical activity, live healthy lifestyles, and develop age appropriate social skills; all primary foci of recreational therapy services.  One intervention that has gained popularity in recent years for treating individuals with ASD is equine-assisted therapy.  This study examined the effects of equine therapy on the gross motor skills of two children with ASD.  Results showed moderate to large gains in body coordination, strength and agility, and overall gross motor skills as a result of participation in an equine-assisted therapy intervention.  Implications for recreational therapists providing equine-based interventions are discussed.


Recreational Therapy 



Intervention Terminology

Equine Assisted Therapy 

Study Design 

Single subject research study


2 children 


7-10 years 

Assessment/ Outcome measure tools

BOT2, Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS)

Result Category 

Gross Motor

Dosage/Description of Intervention

30 minute equine-assisted therapy, 3 times per week for up to 5 weeks