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How to sign up for an AHA, Inc. course

It’s easier than ever to sign up for an AHA, Inc. educational course. Here are the steps to get you started

To sign up online; 

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Critically Appraised Paper


Vermöhlen, V., Schiller, P., Schickendantz, S., Drache, M., Hussack, S., Gerber-Grote, A., & Pöhlau, D. (2018). Hippotherapy for patients with multiple sclerosis: A multicenter randomized controlled trial (MS-HIPPO). Multiple Sclerosis Journal24(10), 1375–1382.
Journal Impact Factor: 5.


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Hosting a Course- A Hosting Facility's Perspective

Have you thought about hosting a course for the AHA, Inc. but aren’t quite sure what it entails? While the process can be daunting for first time hosts, the AHA, Inc., and Faculty are here to assist you along the way. Below is some advice and insights from facilities that have hosted an AHA, Inc. course in the past. 

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Thank you for your support

After the rush of Thanksgiving and the start of holiday shopping, Giving Tuesday and Colorado Gives Day are great ways to give back to the organizations that mean the most to us. We are thankful to the donors who selected The AHA, Inc. to give back to this year. With the combined days. The AHA, Inc. was gifted $962. All donors selected that the funds be used at the discretion at AHA, Inc.; the funds will be used for extraordinary educational expenses and will allow us to offer more courses and create new ones!
The great thing about Giving Tuesday and Colorado Gives day is that they don’t need to be celebrated on one day, a celebration can take place all year long! If you are interested in donating to The AHA, Inc. A $10.00 donation could fund an individual with resources; $50.00 could fund university/college outreach; $250.00 could fund annual event outreach. The AHA, Inc. would not possible if it weren’t for the generosity of our members and donors. Thank you for your support this holiday season!

Global Strides- Transitions Toward International Growth

It is a very exciting time for AHA, Inc. as the organization begins to expand its knowledge and expertise to international waters. Currently there are six American Hippotherapy Certification Board (AHCB) certified therapists and four Hippotherapy Clinical Specialists (HPCS) internationally. To date, AHA, Inc. faculty have facilitated international courses in Spain, Greece, New Zealand, South Korea, Mexico, Portugal, Russia, China, South Africa, Turkey, and—this year—Saudi Arabia. These courses were host to a wide international presence.

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Taking The Leap: Steps for Transitioning to Private Practice

What makes a champion? According to Lynch (2006), a champion has courage to risk failure. A champion also has passion, vision, and creativity. They understand their weaknesses and work to strengthen them. They enjoy what they are doing, simply for the pleasure of doing it. They likely also possess a special talent, a niche personality, charisma, and a long-term vision of goals and opportunities for future possibilities. What constitutes a professional? For that matter, what is professionalism? For some, there may be an internal drive that creates a journey into professionalism. According to Atkins (2013), “Professionalism is a responsibility to bring changes in people’s lives.” He also states that attitudes drive behaviors, behaviors drive action, and action reinforces attitudes.


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Giving Tuesday with AHA, Inc.


Thanksgiving typically marks the start of the holiday season in the United States. With Black Friday, small business Saturday and Cyber Monday all following Thanksgiving, on December 3rd, giving Tuesday offers you the opportunity to give to the AHA, Inc. community. 

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Therapy Horse Wins National Title and Heads Back to Work Monday Morning

FORT COLLINS, Co., October 9, 2019. AQHA gelding Barbies Red Rooster, known to his family as “Ricky” at Skyline Therapy Services in Edgewood, NM, was just crowned Reserve World Champion Ranch Riding Horse at the Adequan® AQHA Select World Championship Show in Fort Worth, Texas shown by his owner, AHA, Inc. faculty member and speech-language pathologist, Ruth Dismuke Blakely, MS/CCC-SLP, HPCS. The Adequan® AQHA Select World Championship Show is the world’s largest, single-breed world championship horse show open exclusively to amateur exhibitors age 50 and over. Select amateur competitors around the world must qualify for the event by earning a predetermined number of points to secure a spot in each of the classes, representing English, Western and halter disciplines. Competitors compete in a preliminary round hoping to make the top 15 “finals” round.  

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Practice Errors to Give You Terrors- common mistakes and oversights that can haunt your practice

Disclaimer: All photos included in this post were staged with the assistance of experienced horse handlers and riders. Use of these images in any context other than their use here is not permissible.

Running a physical therapy, occupational therapy, or speech-language therapy practice is hard, but running a physical therapy, occupational therapy, or speech-language therapy practice that safely and effectively uses the treatment tool of hippotherapy as part of a total plan of care is even harder. There are many more factors to be taken into consideration including horse handlers, sidewalkers, horses, equipment, as well as the terminology you use when discussing your practice both in person and online. In the spirit of Halloween, we’ve put together a list of some tricks to set you up for a safe and effective treat(ment).

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Terminology in Research and Reimbursement

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple” – Dr. Suess

I was given the honor to represent AHA, Inc. this past summer at the Horses in Education and Therapy International (HETI) Conference in Dublin, Ireland. The focus of the conference was “Striking the Balance” and the  topic of my presentation was, “Terminology and its Global Impact on Reimbursement and Research.” In research- where the goal is to test hypotheses through systematic investigation to reach new conclusions-there appears to be an essential need for a database of common terminology. Clear language facilitates reliable research, and we need reliable research for appropriate reimbursement. When we use inconsistent terms in research across industries or develop language tailored to our own concepts, then we are potentially creating a bias. Title protection laws exist to establish specific terms as they relate to an industry or profession in order to protect the general public. Similarly, we need to create a database of terminology that is specifically defined in order to compare results and protect the validity of the research completed.

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How to use the new AHA, Inc. member database

AHA, Inc. is thrilled to announce the launch of our new membership database! The new membership database will allow AHA, Inc. members to automatically renew, view other AHA, Inc. members, create a professional profile and network within our community. This new extension will also simplify course registration by allowing participants to register and purchase the course all in one place. Click the webinar below to learn more about this useful tool!

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An interview with outgoing Board Members Heather Ajzenman, Nate Harms and Lisa Harris

Earlier this year, three long-standing AHA, Inc. members finished their term on the AHA, Inc. Board of Directors. We want to send a heartfelt thank you to Heather Ajzenman, OTD, OTR/L, HPCS, Nate Harms, and Lisa Harris, MSVS, PT, HPCS for their contributions to AHA, Inc. and our mission! In celebration of all their hard-work, we interviewed each of them to learn a little bit more about them as we bid them farewell from the board (but not from the AHA, Inc!)

Heather Ajzenman, OTD, OTR/L, HPCS 

How long have you been a part of AHA, Inc.?
I was part of AHA, Inc. as a student starting in 2010 but probably joined in 2013 when I became a treating therapist and joined the board shortly after.

Why do you include hippotherapy in your practice?
I grew up with horses and used to volunteer with OTs, PTs, and SLPs that incorporated hippotherapy into their plan of care, so from early on I knew I wanted to incorporate it into my own practice. The benefits I see for many of my clients, are incredible and something I cannot re-create in the clinic or home environments.

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AHA, Inc. Alert: Are you putting yourself at risk?

The AHA, Inc. office, Reimbursement Committee, and Ethics/Advocacy Committee continually address issues related to misconceptions about the role hippotherapy plays in physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology services.

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Understanding AHCB

The American Hippotherapy Certification Board (AHCB) was created in 1998 to develop and maintain a method to validate the knowledge of physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-­language pathology professionals using hippotherapy in clinical practice. This directly supports the AHA, Inc. mission: improve lives by advancing education, best practices, and resources for licensed healthcare professionals who incorporate horses in therapy. To provide evidence of advanced education and use of best practices, the ACHB’s certification tests were developed.

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Joint Terminology Summit Update

The long-awaited summit for reaching consensus on baseline terms and definitions for Human-Horse Interaction Services and Methods took place in Denver, July 20th – 22nd.  Funded by the Bob Woodruff Foundation, seventeen dedicated people bringing different and varied perspectives, expertise and association representation, gathered together and, with the facilitation assistance of Zia partners, tackled the issue of inconsistent terminology. Laurie Schick and Nina Ekholm-Fry joined me in representing AHA, Inc. in the group of 17, who participated. Laurie and Nina did an outstanding job representing the viewpoints of the AHA, Inc.

Left to right Laurie, Joann, & Nina

Significant progress was made in understanding the issues of terminology from a variety of perspectives, reviewing the survey results, clarifying the current language and beginning to develop a white paper to report the findings and recommendations. Finalizing the work and recommendations in the white paper will continue over the next few months. Starting in October, the initial draft will begin to be shared with various stakeholders and association members, including the AHA, Inc, to gather feedback. Gathering and synthesizing this feedback will happen through the end of the year. The summit participants will then review that feedback to complete the final paper with the goal to release the final document by the middle of next year.

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Marketing Your Practice: Terminology Dos and Don’ts

With all the nuances in terminology in our industry, it is hard to know the right way to say
things in order to market yourself appropriately. With more ways than ever to reach a growing audience, clinicians who utilize hippotherapy as a treatment tool in their practice need to be cognizant of not only their print marketing, but their digital and social marketing as well. It is often hard as professionals to find the right balance between using the appropriate words to describe our profession and the tools we use, and using words that laypeople understand and use in everyday language.

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Unlicensed Practice: How to File a Complaint with Your State Licensing Board

Unlicensed practice may be defined as a person claiming to perform activities of a licensed healthcare professional such as Physical Therapy, Speech Language Pathology, and/or Occupational Therapy. When you become aware of unlicensed practice in your state (or another) as a licensed healthcare professional you are ethically* required to report this activity. The best way is to contact that state’s Professional Licensing Board. The best process is to:

  1. Look up the Professional Licensing Board website for the profession the person is claiming to perform.
  2. Verify the licensure status of the individual you are researching.  Is the license current, expired, or unlicensed?
  3. Next find the location on the site to “File a Complaint”.
  4. Find the “Forms” section. You may need to print a form and mail it, or file electronically: this varies by state.
  5. Complete the form using as much detail as possible. If the unlicensed practice has a website or Facebook page promoting the unlicensed activity, take a screenshot for your records. You may need to provide a copy to the Licensing Board, as well.
  6. Most complaint forms may be completed anonymously, however, this makes the complaint hard to track.
  7. The State may choose to investigate.

It is also recommended that you contact the applicable state’s professional therapy organization(s), as they may take immediate action. State OT/PT/SLP associations have been know to write a cease and desist letter regardless of involvement with the licensing board. A list of the state associations for AOTA, APTA and ASHA are found on the AHA, Inc. website under the Resources tab.

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A Tribute to our Pioneers- Nancy McGibbons, PT, HPCS and Claudia Morin, OT, HPCS

“When the President introduces himself he simply
says, ‘I am the President of the United States.’ ” These words were spoken to me by Claudia Morin during the first AHA, Inc. course she and I taught together after I introduced myself to the class apparently a bit too exuberantly. Claudia and Nancy need no introductions. However, if one were to introduce them, one might use descriptors such as founders, Presidents of AHA, Inc., AHA, Inc. Therapists of the Year, and wise senseis. When I was given the honor of writing this article, I thought to myself: with much gratitude, how can we address all the contributions these ladies have made?

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Clarity and Transparency- we can all play in the sandbox together

Are you  confused by terminology? Did you know that it can be really easy when we consider how we  practice with any tool we use in our therapy practice. Are you a swiss ball therapist or a PT, OT or  SLP? Are you a playground therapist, or  dressing therapist? Do you do sand box assisted therapy? Balance board assisted therapy ? Toy assisted therapy? …….I could go on and hopefully you answered “No, I  am a PT and the therapy is physical therapy or I am an OT and the therapy is occupational therapy or I am a SLP and the therapy is speech and language therapy.” 

Then why do we need the terms EAT, EAAT, ET?………we do not define what we do by the tools we use. We define  what we do and that is the therapy by our Education, Training and Professional Licensure to deliver the therapy as PT, OT and SLP’s and Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy are ” Protected Terms” to only be used by those with the Education, Training and Professional Licensure.
 It also makes it confusing for  our consumers. So lets take a look at how confusing it is and I guarantee that you too will see why clarity and transparency in the words and terms we choose can make it easier for everyone to have a clearer understanding of  how therapist deliver their skilled service. The choice of  diverse tools as developed  and implemented into a therapy plan of care after an initial therapy evaluation depends on the scope of practice of the licensed PT, OT or SLP as well as clinical expertise, training and education of the therapist.
Always remember tools do not define the therapy- the Education, and Professional license designates our scope of practice and that defines our therapy practice. Therapy tools, strategies and interventions are the ones that we are trained to skillfully apply because only as a trained, licensed and educated professional can the consumer receive this skilled service.
Please sit back and see this free webinar on Terminology to help you with clarity and transparency:

Click Here to see a free webinar presentation on Terminology and its effects on research and reimbursement that was presented at the HETI 2018 Congress in Dublin Ireland.

The “T” Word: A Riding Instructor’s Perspective


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