AHA, Inc.'s Position of the use of the Term Equine Assisted Services

The American Hippotherapy Association, Inc. (AHA, Inc.) was pleased to have participated in an effort to develop optimal terminology among the various industries that bring horses and humans together, spearheaded by PATH Intl. AHA, Inc. was represented in the terminology working group by Joann Benjamin, PT, HPCS. Laurie Schick, PT, HPCS and Nina Ekholm Fry, MSSc., CCTP were part of the summit group. AHA Inc. is grateful for the efforts of these long standing and dedicated members who advocated for appropriate terminology on behalf of AHA Inc. members. Terminology has been a long standing challenge; misuse of terminology, unclear terms, and inconsistency of the terms utilized in published research has resulted in challenges with reimbursement for clinical services and lack of clarity and safety for consumers. 

Terms such as “Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies” (EAAT) and now “Equine Assisted Services” (EAS) are problematic as they combine the various industries together under one name despite there being vast differences between the healthcare, horsemanship, and learning industries. These terms do not clarify for the consumer what service will be provided. Healthcare professionals are held accountable by state practice acts and regulations to clearly represent the service being provided in all communication. While the convenience of a unifying term is understood by AHA, Inc. for facilities that offer multiple services, the lack of clarity that this term will bring is equivalent to the challenges seen now with the term EAAT. As stated at the PATH Intl. Virtual Conference Opening Panel on Optimal Terminology on November 6th, 2020, AHA, Inc. does not endorse the use of Equine Assisted Services (EAS) as it relates to therapy in order to avoid potential confusion; we recommend that centers indicate which services they offer (horsemanship, learning and/or therapy). 

AHA Inc. is pleased with much of the progress that has been made in developing consistent terms. Considerable work was done to understand various perspectives and to ensure that the final product will help all involved stakeholders. We are thankful for Joann, Laurie, and Nina’s dedication to this effort as well as to our members who participated in the survey process in 2018. We wish to thank the stakeholders and their representatives who participated in the process, the Bob Woodruff Foundation for providing funding and guidance for the project, and to all the panelists for their contributions to the presentation.

Please see the following presentation from the  “PATH Intl. Virtual Conference Opening Panel on Optimal Terminology” recorded on November 6, 2020:


Terminology Document 


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