Hippotherapy

Lauren and Ben

Ben is pictured here in the Hatton Riding Center with his horse (another Ben!) and his therapist, Lauren Warm. Here's what his mom has to say, Hippotherapy has been WONDERFUL for my son Ben. He is a 7 year old with CHARGE Syndrome and Cerebral Palsy. His medical needs are so involved and he has spent so much time in the hospital/satellite locations that he is afraid to go there. He is also afraid to have hands on therapy because he had a femur fracture during a PT session. Because of that, all therapy has been unsuccessful up until Hippotherapy. He has no idea he is getting therapy when he goes. Instead, he thinks he is getting a fun horse riding experience. The horse is the tool so he isn't being pulled on by a person, which is perfect for him. Instead he is just supported on the horse and changed positions from the therapist. When he started Hippotherapy 4 years ago, he had to be completely supported, was barely able to spread his legs to straddle the horse and only tolerated 5-10 minutes on the horse. The warmth of the horse has stretched out his muscles in a way we would have never been able to do ourselves so he now straddles without any discomfort, his core has strengthened so much that he is able to ride the entire 30 minute session, and he has even started to trot a little on the horse. I contribute his increased strength and flexibility to the Hippotherapy as well since he hasn't been getting any other therapy. The best part is that he loves it, and enjoys going every week.” 

Hippotherapy is a treatment strategy in which the movement of the horse is utilized by specially trained, certified occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech language pathologists to address a variety of impairments and limitations with the goal of achieving functional outcomes.

Hippotherapy is used with children as young as two years old. Working one-on-one with the rider/patient, the therapist modifies the horse’s movement, thus providing the child with varied physical and sensory input. Volunteers assist as horse leader and side-walker for each rider. Specific riding skills are not taught as they are in adaptive recreational horseback riding, but rather the horse’s movement facilitates active responses and engagement of the child which are intended to affect function. This foundation can be generalized to a wide range of daily activities.

Hippotherapy sessions are provided by occupational and physical therapists who have also completed AHA (American Hippotherapy Association) certification. 

Patients respond enthusiastically to this enjoyable experience.

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