Precautions & Contraindications for Hippotherapy



Contraindications for equine assisted speech therapy (off of the horse but in the farm environment)

  • Severe allergies to horse hair, dust, hay, the environment, etc.
  • Behaviors that may cause a danger to the patient, animals, or staff
  • Extreme fear of the animals
  • History of animal abuse
  • Respiratory compromise

Contraindications for speech therapy incorporating hippotherapy (being on the horse)

Orthopedic concerns:

  • Coxa Arthritis (degeneration of the hip)
  • Cranial Deficits
  • Acute herniated disk
  • Spondylotisthesis
  • Pathological Fractures (e.g. osteogenesis imperfecta)
  • Spinal fusion, organic or operative
  • Unstable spine including subluxation of the cervical spine.

Medical concerns:

  • Acute stage of arthritis
  • Atlantoaxial  Instability (all patients with Downs Syndrome are required to provide a  statement from physician stating that a physical examination did not  reveal atlantoaxial instability or a focal neurological disorder)
  • Anti-coagulant medication
  • Exacerbation of Multiple Sclerosis or RA
  • Hemophilia with recent episodes of bleeding
  • Open Pressure sores/wounds on contact surfaces
  • Osteoporosis (severe)
  • Uncontrolled seizures
  • Drug dosages causing physical states that are inappropriate in a riding environment
  • CVA - secondary to unclipped anerurysm, or presence of other aneurysms - secondary to angioma that was not totally resected
  • Non-repaired tethered Cord or Chiary II Malformation Associated with Spina Bifida Cystica with symptoms
  • In dwelling catheter (females)


Precautions & Possible Contraindications

The following are precautions and possible contraindications for Hippotherapy:

  •  Achondroplasia  (short stature): Contraindicated if symptoms with spinal cord  irritation are worsened by movement on a dynamic surface
  • Arthrogryposis: contraindicated if treatment interventions cause pain
  • Significant allergies to horse hair, dust, hay, etc.
  • History of skin breakdown, or of skin grafting over bony or weight bearing areas
  • High-level spinal cord paralysis or significant asymmetry of muscle paralysis
  • Recent surgery
  • Serious heart condition
  • Ongoing upper respiratory tract infections or chronic pneumonia
  • Behavioral outbursts which pose a danger to the patient, staff, of horse and can not be controlled
  • Heterotopic Ossification or Myositis Ossificans
  • Osteogenesis Imperfecta
  • History of animal abuse
  • Severe gravitational insecurity

While many children and adults benefit from Hippotherapy and Equine Assisted Therapy, it is not for everyone.  

Our therapists will work with your medical doctors to determine if hippotherapy and animal assisted therapy are right for you.