Summary: AHA, Inc. Review of “Optimal Terminology for Services That Incorporate Horses to Benefit People”

Summary: AHA, Inc. Review of “Optimal Terminology for Services That Incorporate Horses to Benefit People” 

On December 1, 2020, the results of the “Optimal Terminology for Services in the United States that Incorporate Horses to Benefit People: A Consensus Document” was published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (click here). The terminology work that took place over the course of two years aimed to develop optimal terminology among the various stakeholders that offer services including horses. Much progress was made in clarifying terminology for consistent use and for discontinuation.

As of the publication date, the following organizations endorsed the paper: 
American Horse Council (AHC)
Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA)
Equine Experiential Education Association (E3A)
Horses and Humans Research Foundation (HHRF)
Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.)

As of the publication date, the following organizations have not fully endorsed the paper: 
American Hippotherapy Association (AHA, Inc.)
Certification Board for Equine Interaction Professionals (CBEIP)
Eagala


Notes regarding the publication:

The leadership at the AHA, Inc. was pleased with the progress that was made in developing consistent terms and addressing ongoing terminology challenges that are detrimental to all of the industries defined in the paper. The consensus document shows general, but not unanimous agreement among the stakeholders. It follows that some terms/use of terms are optimal, whereas others are not. AHA, Inc. was not able to endorse the full document as portions of the document are problematic to all healthcare professionals who may incorporate horses in treatment and the clients they serve.

It is recommended that AHA, Inc. members read the full article, “Optimal Terminology for Services in the United States that Incorporate Horses to Benefit People: A Consensus Document”(click here), however, the key features of the publication are outlined below along with AHA Inc.'s position on each area.


Key features of the publication:

Unifying term (page 4): Not endorsed by AHA, Inc. As is discussed in the article, there are 12 distinct services in 3 main industries (therapy, learning, horsemanship) that may incorporate horses to benefit people. The common thread between these services is the inclusion of horses or horse/human interactions. AHA, Inc. believes that the use of any unifying term perpetuates the current terminology confusion that persists in combining the three industries despite the vast differences between therapy, horsemanship, and learning. 

For discussions in those topic areas and/or to discuss the variety of services potentially offered at a facility a unifying term was established. The paper describes this unifying term, not as an overarching term that would place the service areas within or under that term (as was the case with EAAT), but a term to be used in limited circumstances. The term must remain plural because it can only be used when combining more than one distinct service in discussion.    

Equine-assisted services (page 4): Not endorsed by AHA, Inc. The concern expressed by AHA, Inc leadership is the potential misuse of a unifying term that draws the therapy and non-therapy industries together, thus implying the existence of one industry. While the convenience of a unifying term is understood by AHA, Inc. for facilities that offer multiple services, the lack of clarity and potential for problems outweighs that benefit.   

Identifying any of the therapy services as equine-assisted services contradict the recommendation to describe therapy with therapy-first language. It also links 'equine-assisted' with therapy, which has negative implications for all healthcare professionals. Further discussion on the use of the term 'equine-assisted' as related to therapy can be found in AHA, Inc.’s Terminology for Healthcare (click here).

Identification of 3 distinct industries (page 4): Endorsed by AHA, Inc. AHA, Inc. agrees that there are distinct industries/professional areas that include horses. Combining them together as if they are one industry is problematic.  

  • Industry 1-Therapy (page 4): Endorsed by AHA, Inc. The terminology in the therapy section of the paper is consistent with AHA, Inc.’s Terminology for Healthcare (click here) and with what AHA, Inc. has been promoting. The recommendation is that therapists continue to “lead with the therapy” and use clear and transparent therapy-first language when describing their services. 
  • Industry 2- Learning (page 5): Endorsed, with reservation. AHA, Inc. recognizes the developing area of learning services and cautions against the use of ‘equine-assisted’ within that professional service.   

  • Industry 3- Horsemanship (page 5): Endorsed, with reservation. AHA, Inc. continues to endorse the use of the term adaptive riding, in support of a more inclusive model of service delivery.    

Problematic terminology recommended for discontinuation (page 5): Endorsed by AHA, Inc. Terms recommended for discontinuation include: equine therapy, equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT), equine-assisted therapy, equestrian therapy, hippotherapist, hippotherapy clinic (program), horse therapy, horseback riding therapy, and therapy riding.

Click here to read “Optimal Terminology for Services in the United States that Incorporate Horses to Benefit People: A Consensus Document”

 

 Click To View AHA, Inc.'s AHA, Inc.’s Terminology for Healthcare Document 

 

Click Here to View AHA, Inc.'s Position on the use of term Equine Assisted Services (EAS)
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