Equine-assisted therapy is treatment that incorporates equine activities and/or the equine environment. Rehabilitative goals are related to the patient’s needs and the medical professional’s standards of practice.
The American Hippotherapy Association, Inc., defines hippotherapy as a physical, occupational or speech therapy treatment strategy that utilizes equine movement. The word hippotherapy derives from the Greek word hippos, meaning horse. The term hippotherapy refers to the use of the movement of the horse as a treatment strategy by physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech/language pathologists to address impairments, functional limitations and disabilities in patients with neuromotor and sensory dysfunction. This treatment strategy is used as part of an integrated treatment program to achieve functional goals.
EFP is defined as an interactive process in which a licensed mental health professional working with or as an appropriately credentialed equine professional, partners with suitable equine(s) to address psychotherapy goals set forth by the mental health professional and the client.
The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, International requires its Instructors-in-Training to pass written, riding, and lesson instruction tests in order to become certified. In order to prepare for this testing, PATH, INTL recommends mentor training with a trusted PATH, Intl. Certified Instructor. This person should be experienced in the field of Therapeutic Horsemanship to provide hours of helpful, appropriate guidance before and during practice teaching. The candidate is required to complete a minimum of 25 hours of practice teaching to a group of individuals with disabilities under the guidance or direct supervision of a current PATH Intl. Certified Instructor. Length of time necessary to prepare for instructor certification varies depending on the candidate's experience.
Individuals with the following disabilities commonly participate in and benefit from equine facilitated therapy and activities:
Spinal Cord Injury
Equine-assisted activities are any specific center activity, e.g.. therapeutic riding, mounted or ground activities, grooming and stable management, shows, parades, demonstrations, etc., in which the center’s clients, participants, volunteers, instructors and equines are involved.
Therapeutic horsemanship teaches equestrian skills for the purpose of contributing positively to the cognitive, physical, emotional and social well-being of individuals who are "differently-abled." The primary goal is to teach an appropriate equestrian skill with the secondary goals relating to the individual's impairment. In our Therapeutic Horsemanship program, participants learn about horses through riding, groundwork, handling, and caretaking. A PATH certified instructor conducts the session with a leader and side walkers as necessary for safety. The student learns adaptive riding skills, general care, grooming, and saddling. Lessons are individualized to the students' needs, and may include games and other activities on horseback. Emphasis is placed on helping the participant to become as independent as possible. A physical therapist or psychologist may offer some assistance in the activities.
Throughout the world, hundreds of thousands of individuals with and without special needs experience the rewarding benefits of equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT). A physical, cognitive or emotional special need does not limit a person from interacting with horses. In fact, such interactions can prove highly rewarding. For instance, experiencing the rhythmic motion of a horse can be very beneficial. Riding a horse moves the rider's body in a manner similar to a human gait, so riders with physical needs often show improvement in flexibility, balance and muscle strength.
Whether it's a five-year-old with Down syndrome, a 45-year-old recovering from a spinal cord injury, a senior citizen recovering from a stroke, or a teenager struggling with depression, research shows that individuals of all ages who participate in EAAT can experience physical and emotional rewards. For individuals with emotional challenges, the unique relationship formed with the horse can lead to increased confidence, patience and self-esteem.
This list is not all inclusive. Please contact us if you or someone you know is interested in participating.