What Is Hippotherapy Used for? The Ultimate Guide

Hippotherapy is a form of therapy that help kids and adult. It has many different benefits and can be used in conjunction with other treatments. These include occupational therapy, speech therapy, or physical therapy. Read more about hippotherapy in this article so you can decide if hippotherapy is the right treatment option for your loved one.

What Is Hippotherapy?

Hippotherapy is a type of therapy that uses equine movement to improve the health and wellness of people. It is also known as hypnotherapeutic or equine-assisted therapy (EAT).

The hippotherapy sessions are led by occupational therapists and speech-language pathology professionals. They give proper exercises of therapeutic riding to patients. While they interact with an animal such as a horse. Hippotherapy can be used in cases where traditional therapies don’t work well. It is used to improve sensory processing and neurological function while manipulating equine movement.

Hippotherapy helps both children and adults. Because it gives them some goals that need to meet during their session on horses. This might include maintaining balance while sitting upright. And trying not to fall off the back of the horse. They may practice speech while doing simple tasks like grooming the horse.

Therapeutic horseback riding has been used as a treatment tool for people suffering from Parkinson’s Disease and multiple sclerosis (MS). As well as cerebral palsy (CP), autism spectrum disorders (ASD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

old lady is feeding horse

Why Is It Called Hippotherapy?

Hippotherapy is called hippotherapy because it is a combination of two Greek words: hippo (horse) and therapy (treatment).

Hippotherapy for Seniors

Seniors can benefit from hippotherapy. They usually need a lower level of intensity in their sessions. And hippotherapy can help with improving balance, postural control, and coordination. Seniors with limited mobility riding foldable power chairs can also use hippotherapy.

Horse therapy can help the elderly with multiple conditions including:

  • managing issues like Parkinson’s disease or spinal cord injury (SCI);
  • improving balance in older adults;
  • reducing pain caused by arthritis or back problems;
  • addressing speech disorders that affect communication skills for patients living with Alzheimer’s disease or autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
child with special needs is riding horse

Hippotherapy for Kids

Hippotherapy can be beneficial for kids with movement disorders and developmental delays. This type of therapy is helpful for treating conditions such as cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and an autism spectrum disorder. Hippotherapy can help improve a child’s balance, coordination, gross motor function. As well as posture, communication skills, and promote functional outcomes.

Hippotherapy for kids is usually provided under parents’ supervision. The hippotherapy session may last for one hour. It can be conducted in a school, community center, or clinical setting. Songs, games, and music can be used to make the hippotherapy session more enjoyable for kids.

No hippotherapy session is the same because therapy horses have their own personalities and temperaments. This keeps children engaged in hippotherapy sessions. It also allows them to experience controlling or being controlled by an animal with its own brain and agenda.

The length of hippotherapy depends on what each child needs. But one session can last up to 45 minutes per day over several days. Between the sessions, kids are encouraged to continue practicing at home with a horse puppet or toy.

Hippotherapy for Cerebral Palsy

Hippotherapy is a hippotherapy treatment that is helpful for kids with cerebral palsy. Kids who have this condition may initially develop tight, weak muscles and an inability to control those movements throughout the body. Children are taught specific riding skills while a horse handler is leading the animal.

Such horse therapy helps improve muscle tone in children with cerebral palsy. It’s done through graduated exercises designed specifically for these patients’ conditions and abilities. The child can practice standing and walking while mounted on a horse. They hold onto the reins or handles attached to the saddle of the horse.

Some hippotherapy horses are specially trained for hippotherapy. So they do not react fearfully or aggressively toward uncoordinated riders trying to mount them from either side of their bodies (the right-left technique). This allows children with coordination problems such as hemiparesis, ataxia, hypotonia, and athetosis to practice movements that are often difficult. This includes climbing onto a small stool.

Young man with cute horse outdoors

The Health Benefits of Hippotherapy

Hippotherapy is used as an intervention for children who have difficulties with balance, coordination, strength, and body awareness. Hippotherapy can also help improve communication and social skills by working in a group setting.

The benefits of hippotherapy don’t stop when children reach adulthood. Hippotherapy can be helpful for adults too. It has been shown to increase muscle strength, improve proper balance and coordination. And it also relieves anxiety and stress and boosts self-esteem. It is said that hippotherapy may even slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease.

Seniors can also benefit from hippotherapy sessions. As people age, they can lose their sense of balance and coordination. This can lead to a fear of falling and a reduction in mobility. Hippotherapy can help with both of these issues. It can also improve body awareness and reduce the risk of falls.

How Much Does Hippotherapy Cost?

Hippotherapy costs between $50 and $100 per session. The price will vary depending on your geographical location and the type of therapy you require. You can expect to pay around $100 an hour or less if your insurance covers it. If not you will probably end up paying out-of-pocket yourself so be prepared. Make sure to check with your provider to see if you are covered. If not, there are still ways to get the most out of this treatment by seeking reimbursement from private sources or funding organizations.

Hippotherapy for young children

What to Wear for Hippotherapy?

When you arrive at your hippotherapy session, be sure to wear comfortable clothes that are easy to move around in. This includes sneakers or appropriate shoes for mounting and dismounting the horse. So don’t forget them. Be careful not to dress too warmly as hippotherapy sessions can get quite hot because of all the activities involved. Always wear a safety helmet when getting on a horse.

It is also important not to bring anything with you into therapy sessions. These include cell phones, keys, etc. If it isn’t on your body then leave it behind when you go inside a hippotherapy clinic.

You can bring something extremely valuable that you simply must have at an appointment. Then make sure someone stays outside during the session. While holding onto these items if possible.


Hippotherapy is a great treatment for riders to do with their horses. It is beneficial for children and adults of all ages. As well as seniors who are looking to stay active in horse therapy sessions.

Hippotherapy costs vary by location. So it’s best to find an affordable hippotherapy clinic near you before making your appointment.

The main thing about hippotherapy clinics is that they are extremely safe practices. They have many benefits both physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially. This includes improved balance control while mounted on the horse. Improved coordination can also be seen after hippotherapy sessions. After rehabilitation treatments at hospitals, schools, clinics, etc.