Hippotherapy is a physical, occupational, and speech-language therapy treatment strategy that utilizes equine movement as part of an integrated intervention program to achieve functional outcomes. Equine movement provides multidimensional movement, which is variable, rhythmic and repetitive. Hippotherapy is an effective treatment strategy used by occupational therapists, physical therapists and speech language pathologists to address a wide variety of therapy goals and objectives. Hippotherapy requires a team.
The team is made up of specially trained people and horses. In order produce the best results, each member of the hippotherapy team plays an important role. The team is made up of:
- The therapist
- The horse
- The horse handler
- The side walker
Hippotherapy is a labor intensive treatment strategy. In addition to the members of the hippotherapy team, many other people are also involved in:
- The training of the horse
- The care of the horse
- The grooming of the horse
- Warming up the horse
- Preparing the horse for the session
- Taking care of the horse following a session
- The training of the horse handlers and side-walkers
- The scheduling of the team
- The preparation and maintenance of the facility
Because of this, most therapists using hippotherapy as a treatment strategy have strict cancellation policies to ensure that all members of the team are given sufficient notice when a session is canceled.
This blog is part of a 5 part series on the hippotherapy team. The hippotherapy team is led by the therapist. Look for part 2 of this series to learn about what makes a good therapist for hippotherapy.
© 2012, Tina M. Rocco, M.A. CCC-SLP, HPCS. All rights reserved.