Hippotherapy – Equine Assisted Therapy

Derived from the Greek hippos (horse), “hippotherapy” refers to therapy aided by a horse.  Using horses to help people has been mentioned in ancient Greek writings of Hippocrates, more formally developed in Europe in the 1960’s.

Research has shown that movement on a horse stimulates development of neural connections in the brain that help with language and motor development.  Equine assisted therapy physically addresses muscle tone, posture, and respiratory control.  Benefits related to communicative challenges are exhibited in increased speech production and more efficient language use.  Therapeutic riding offers a high-affect shared experience that meets therapeutic goals based on individual profiles and provides opportunities for children to engage, interact, and regulate a range of emotions.

Results from a recent July 2015 controlled clinical trial supports the hypotheses that the equine interaction helps individuals with autism with non-verbal joint attention and that the shared experience lends to improvement in social communication skills.

Occupational Therapists At Lionheart

At Lionheart, an Occupational Therapist certified in Hippotherapy through the American Hippotherapy Association, with a degree in equine animal sciences provides hippotherapy for the students three times a week.  A student’s individual profile determines frequency of participation.  Additional hippotherapy can be contracted through lioncrestfarms@gmail.com


  • Balance and Postural Control – Motor Planning and Core Development
  • Integration of vision, touch, smell, hearing – plus vestibular (where body is in space) and Proprioceptive (movement)
  • Coordination and Attention
  • Increased  Self-Control, Confidence and Self-Esteem

How does this translate into the Classroom?

  • Posture for sitting and handwriting
  • Left/Right orientation to read (vision) and write (visual-motor)
  • Motor-planning – for language and cognitive skills
  • Movement provides the body input to stay calm, focused and alert —- Ready to LEARN