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Hippotherapy is the use of horseback riding as a therapeutic or rehabilitative treatment.

Who Can Benefit from Hippotherapy?

  • Children and adults with physical, neurological, behavioral, or cognitive disabilities

  • Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Down Syndrome, Spinal Cord Injuries, Social/Communication delays are the most common diagnoses typically associated with participating in Hippotherapy

Benefits of Hippotherapy:

  • Utilizes the benefits of horseback riding and the equine environment alongside trained professionals (OT’s, PT’s, ST’s) to promote maximal therapeutic benefits for participants

  • Improved posture, balance, mobility, motivation, strength, coordination, and overall mood of the individual

  • Improves daily activities, independence, and overall quality of life

How Does it Affect Postural Control?

  • A horse’s gait has a three-dimensional movement (equine movement) which is similar to a human that helps one plan physical responses to the horse’s movement

  • Horseback riding requires subtle adjustments and positioning to maintain proper balance and posture

  • The horse’s gait pattern is similar to that of a human, so riding the horse facilitates normal pelvic rotation

  • The movement of the horse combined with the warmth of the horse may also help decrease hypertonicity and promote relaxation if the rider has spastic movements


Govender, P., Barlow, C., & Ballim, S. (2016). Hippotherapy in occupational therapy practice. South African Journal Of Occupational Therapy, 46(2), 31-36. doi:10.17159/2310 3833/2016/v46n2a6

My Child at Cerebral (2018). Hippotherapy. Retrieved April 3, 2018 from

Zadnikar, M., & Kastrin, A. (2011). Effects of hippotherapy and therapeutic horseback riding on postural control or balance in children with cerebral palsy: a meta-analysis. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 53(8), 684-691. doi:10.1111/j.1469 8749.2011.03951.x

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