HIPPOTHERAPY (equine assisted therapy) - refers to how occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech-language pathology professionals use evidence-based practice and clinical reasoning in the purposeful manipulation
of equine movement as a therapy tool to engage sensory, neuromotor and cognitive systems to promote functional outcomes. Equine movement is multi -dimensional and provides rhythmic, consistent, and predictable input to the client that is carefully monitored and manipulated for individual needs. Sitting on a moving horse produces a three dimensional movement in the client’s pelvis with each step that mimics human gait including anterior/posterior pelvic tilt, lateral tilt and forward pelvic rotation. Each treatment can average 2000 to 2500 neuromotor inputs to the client and this input provides neural input of normal gait mechanics to the brain. This is particularly effective physically and emotionally for clients who use a wheelchair as a primary or partial means of mobility. The movement of the horse cannot be duplicated by any piece of equipment. The therapist can modify many variables during the treatment including equine movement, positioning, posture, tempo and speed to appropriately stimulate/challenge a client. Hippotherapy is able to stimulate all sensory systems simultaneously, most importantly the proprioceptive system and the vestibular system as the equine moves forward in space. Movement is facilitated with interactions of multiple subsystems (sensory, muscular, skeletal, limbic, etc.) and according to the dynamic systems theory this prompts the brain to self organize. *Hippotherapy is coordinated through an affiliated nonprofit organization called RISE Rehabilitation on the same property.