The AHA Inc. research committee has developed a bibliography and reference list of peer-reviewed published papers that specifically refer to the inclusion of equine movement in occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech-language pathology services.  The list contains 13 literature and systematic reviews, 102 peer reviewed articles, and 12 peer reviewed case studies, and 27 articles and book chapters.

To view the AHA Inc. Bibliography and Reference List click here 

Various well-established theories and therapeutic principles help to guide how therapists incorporate equine movement into their treatment sessions, most notably: dynamic systems theory, motor learning principles, and strategies related to sensory processing. Therefore, in addition the AHA Inc. Bibliography and Reference List above, a large body of research supports these underlying theories and therapeutic principles related to hippotherapy. Further, there is a growing body of research tied to human-animal interactions. Professionals may also wish to consider this larger body of evidence when making clinical decisions.

Outcome Measures

Measuring outcomes is a vital component of therapy practice. They are important monitor progress, impact clinical decisions surrounding interventions, and can provide the rehabilitation field an opportunity to describe, compare and  determine best case management.

The use of standardized tests and measures at initial assessment establishes the baseline status of the patient/client, providing a means to quantify change in the patient’s/client’s functioning.  There are 4 basic types of measures:

  • Self-report measures, which include questionnaires completed by the client
  • Performance-based measures, which include many standardized tests, where a score is awarded for skill performance
  • Observer-reported measures include questionnaires completed by a caregiver
  • Clinician-reported measures are administered by the therapist, and include I measures such as ROM, Strength, posture, quality of movement, etc.

Standard medical framework for organizing client ability/disability uses the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF).  According to the Centers for Disease Control, the ICFR is a “is a framework for describing and organising information on functioning and disability. It provides a standard language and a conceptual basis for the definition and measurement of health and disability.”  (

In the ICF, functioning and disability are multi-dimensional concepts, relating to:

  •  Body functions and structures of people, and impairments thereof (functioning at the level of the body);
  • Activities of people (functioning at the level of the individual) and the activity limitations they experience;
  • Participation or involvement of people in all areas of life, and the participation restrictions they experience (functioning of a person as a member of society);and
  • Environmental factors which affect these experiences (and whether these factors are facilitators or barriers).

The use of industry accepted outcome measures is a professional obligation and supports therapy practice.  Outcome measures can assess any of these different areas of the ICF.   Client improvements in the function or participation realm may be more meaningful and important for reimbursement.

List of standard outcome measures is being compiled by the research committee and will available soon


Other Helpful Information

Considerations for Evaluating Research in Evidence-Based Practice: This guide was developed to assist clinicians in making informed decisions about published literature focusing on interventions that utilize equine movement in conjunction with the larger equine environment to engage clients’ physical, sensory, emotional, and cognitive systems. Read the full article here.

Understanding Evidence Based Practice in OT, PT and SLP:

Research Resource for Understanding, Reviewing, and Conducting Research

Equator Network—Enhancing the Quality and Transparency of Health Research

The UK EQUATOR Centre is hosted by the Centre for Statistics in Medicine, NDORMS, University of Oxford.

Online resource includes reporting guidelines for main study types referenced above, courses and events, and toolkits to provide practical help in writing research, peer-reviewing research, teaching research skills, and selecting appropriate reporting guidelines.