FAQs For Families

 

My current PT, OT, or SLP recommended hippotherapy, what exactly does that mean?

The term hippotherapy refers to how occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech-language pathology professionals use evidence-based practice and clinical reasoning in the purposeful manipulation of equine movement as a therapy tool to engage sensory, neuromotor and cognitive systems to promote functional outcomes.

Best practice dictates that occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech-language pathology professionals integrate hippotherapy into the patient’s plan of care, along with other therapy tools and/or strategies. 

Are there hippotherapists in the U.S.A.?

The term “hippotherapist” is not used in the United States. Individuals are identified by their profession of licensure: OT, PT, SLP. For example, Andrea is a physical therapist who incorporates hippotherapy into her clinical practice. Refer to the American Hippotherapy Certification Board (AHCB) website for information on how to become a certified therapist utilizing hippotherapy in your practice. www.hippotherapycertification.org

Who can provide therapy services that include hippotherapy?

Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists and Speech Language Pathologists, Physical Therapy Assistants, Occupational Therapy Assistants and Speech Language Pathologist Assistants who have received specialized post graduate continuing education training through taking the AHA Inc. Part I and Part II (Foundation courses) would be the best at providing these services in the USA.  Therapists who take AHA, Inc. courses are taught the principles, application and clinical decision skills to apply skillfully manipulated equine movement (hippotherapy) a plan of care for a patient.

Why choose an AHA, Inc. Trained therapist?

Effective use of equine movement as a treatment tool/strategy requires extensive knowledge of the interaction of human and equine physiology when a patient is placed on a moving horse.

Therapy professionals need in depth understanding of equines and equine movement to safely and effectively integrate the impact of equine movement with other therapy tools/strategies to achieve their patients’ treatment goals.

Since 1992, the American Hippotherapy Association Inc. has offered the only standardized curriculum dedicated to hippotherapy as a treatment tool within occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech-language therapy.  AHA Inc. trained therapists are expected to follow the American Hippotherapy Association, Inc. Statements of Best Practice for the Use of Hippotherapy by Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Speech-Language Pathology Professionals.

Voluntary certification in the inclusion of hippotherapy as a treatment tool/strategy within occupational therapy, physical therapy or speech language pathology services is available from the American Hippotherapy Certification Board (AHCB).  There is a growing number of therapists who have successfully met the AHCB criteria and are recognized as “AHCB Certified” or “Board Certified Hippotherapy Clinical Specialists” (HPCS).  To learn more about certification click here

Click here to Find a Therapist or facility near you

How does hippotherapy differ from Adaptive or Therapeutic riding?

The term “hippotherapy” refers to how occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech-language pathology professionals use evidence-based practice and clinical reasoning in the purposeful manipulation of equine movement as a therapy tool to engage sensory, neuromotor and cognitive systems to promote functional outcomes. Best practice dictates that occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech-language
pathology professionals integrate hippotherapy into the patient’s plan of care, along with other therapy tools and/or strategies.

The terms “adaptive riding” and “therapeutic riding” are synonymous. These terms are commonly used to refer to horseback riding lessons for individuals with special needs, taught by horseback riding instructors who have received specialized training and may be certified to teach riding lessons to students with disabilities. These instructors adapt their teaching style, the environment and/or equipment to facilitate acquisition of riding skills and participation in an enjoyable activity. When participating in riding lessons, opportunities may be available for riders to participate in competitive equestrian events, recreation and leisure, education, socialization, and/or fitness.

The term “adaptive riding” more accurately describes this activity and is more consistent with other activities and sports for individuals with disabilities. The term “therapeutic” may imply “therapy”, and may be misleading to consumers and the public, therefore, it is the position of AHA Inc. to describe this activity is “adaptive riding. 

What should families/patients expect?

At the start of therapy services, an initial evaluation should be completed by your therapist, and an appropriate treatment plan will be developed.  Hippotherapy is intended to be one part of an overall occupational therapy, physical therapy or speech language pathology treatment plan, which means your therapist will likely include a variety or treatment tools, strategies and approaches in treatment.

Families/patients should expect that treating occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech language pathology professionals who include equine movement into a therapy session have made a sound clinical judgement as to the appropriateness of hippotherapy integrated into the plan of care and that they are addressing the patient’s functional limitations and treatment needs through provision of medically necessary therapy services.

AHA Inc. trained therapists determine the potential value of including hippotherapy into the patient’s occupational therapy, physical therapy or speech-language therapy treatment.  The therapist will carefully select a horse for the client, based on the horse’s temperament, movement and confirmation.  The movement of the horse is purposefully manipulated to impact the client. In addition, skilled and licensed therapists may use various developmental positions to further enhance this movement.

 

AHA Facebook Community group