The Benefits of Hippotherapy

Topics covered in this article:

  • What is Hippotherapy?
  • The skills your child will work on during Hippotherapy.
  • Therapy off the horse
  • Riding positions
  • Fundraising
  • Volunteers
  • Horse Care

What is Hippotherapy?

Hippotherapy is a type of therapy that occurs on a horse for individuals who have disabilities. During Hippotherapy, the individual participates in other therapy types: Physical, Occupational, and Speech while horseback riding. Usually, Hippotherapy occurs at a nonprofit organization located at a horse farm.

Initial Evaluation

First, your child’s abilities and developmental skills will be evaluated. Your child’s strengths and needed improvements will also be assessed. Lastly, the therapist will determine a few goals for your child to work towards.

What skills are worked on in Hippotherapy?

Hippotherapy can motivate him or her to improve a variety of skills. One of the improvements that you may see your child make progress in is their ability to articulate and speak on any level. Although your child may be mostly nonverbal, she can learn her alphabet, numbers and simple words such as go on the Horse. Additional benefits include improved head control, core strength, fine and gross motor skills (i.e. sitting) and reduction of muscle tone. Hippotherapy can make a remarkable impact on your child’s journey to reach her potential. Hopefully, your child will love hippotherapy as much as Savannah does.

Therapy off the Horse

During Hippotherapy, your child will spend some of the time with their therapist off the horse. Usually, the organization in which your child participates in Hippotherapy will have a therapy room in which additional therapy will occur. For instance, the therapist will stretch your children’s limps to help to reduce their tone. They also will work on developmental skills such as sitting and reaching for objects.

Riding Positions

Riding positions on the horse include forward, sideways and backwards. Sometimes, participants also lay on their back or stomach or arch into a tummy position to work on head control. The movement of the horse makes a significant difference in the progress of children and adults with disabilities. The staff and therapists often encourage their participants to hold onto the reins.


In order for nonprofit organizations to be successful, fundraising events must be planned and taken place. Additionally, organizations will request families to raise a certain amount of funds, donate items for their auctions and invite friends and family to their fundraisers. Fundraisers for an establishment such as Partners for Progress usually consists of a meal, raffle, entertainment and silent auctions. Fundraisers, for instance a Hoedown and horse show are held at least twice a year to raise funds.


Having volunteers to assist a participant while engaging in Hippotherapy is essential for his or her enhancement. The volunteers walk along each side of the horse to ensure the safety of your child. If the child does not have the ability to sit independently, the volunteers are to provide support while your child rides the horse. Assisting with the preparations of the fundraisers is a great way for the volunteers to make a difference.

Horse care

You cannot have Hippotherapy without horses. Just like everything else, the horses need to be taken care of. Part of Hippotherapy is taking part in the care for the horse that your child rides. My children have petted and patted the horse to comfort the horse. Horses are also occasionally fed by the clients, which they enjoy. Lastly, the participants sometimes pick up after the horses and help groom the horse.

Hippotherapy is Savannah’s absolute favorite and most motivational therapy. We highly recommend Hippotherapy to help your special person in your life.

If you enjoyed this article on the Benefits of Hippotherapy or have any questions for us, please leave us a comment below! We’d love to hear from you!

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Savannah Smiles


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