Hippotherapy is not about riding a hippopotamus (“Hippo” is the Greek word for horse)! It is however the use of a horse’s shape and movement to provide a specific and targeted therapeutic response in the rider.

This is different to adaptive/therapeutic riding, where the aim is for the rider to learn riding skills with the use of adaptive aids or lesson plans. It is run by a qualified instructor and is often in a group setting.

Hippotherapy is conducted in Australia by a hippotherapy-qualified physiotherapist, occupational therapist or speech pathologist with a hippotherapy screened and trained horse or pony. It is a one-on-one session involving a horse handler, two side walkers and the therapist who is engaged and constantly assessing and reassessing throughout the whole therapy session. It is essential to the therapy outcome that the appropriate horse or pony is teamed with the rider’s needs. At Embrace Therapy, the sessions are run by a level 2 hippotherapy accredited physiotherapist and collaborates closely with Eq Cetera Inc, American Hippotherapy Association as well as Riding for Disabled Western Australia and Horsepower Western Australian.

Hippotherapy can benefit a wide range of clients with diagnoses such as:

  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Down Syndrome
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Global Developmental Delay
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Traumatic Brain Injury

Benefits include but are not limited to:

  • Postural control.
  • Balance reactions.
  • Skill development such as independent sitting and walking.
  • Arousal and attention.
  • Body awareness.
  • Motor planning.
  • Respiration function.

Hippotherapy is fantastic for clients who are experiencing therapy burn out. By being out in nature, on a horse- it is something different then their usual therapy and they think they are just out riding a horse but really are working out!

The benefits of equine-assisted therapy have been attempted to be replicated using robotic horses but the 4D element just cannot be replicated as well as the smile, trust and bonding a client receives when being in the presence of a real-life horse or pony.

If you would like to learn more please go to our Contact Us page and we can answer any questions may have.

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