Hippotherapy and Therapeutic/Adaptive Riding

What is the difference? And how do I know which one is most appropriate for my child?

Consider your child's specific needs:

  • Does your child require constant positioning to maintain sitting balance?
  • Does your child need frequent assistance to maintain attention or alertness levels?
  • Is you child under the age of 5?
  • Does your child have special medical needs that may require the additional knowledge and training from a licensed professional therapist?
  • Does your child have sensory integration dysfunction or frequent behavioral outbursts to sensory stimulus?
  • Does your child have specific fine or gross motor skills to work on?
  • Would your child benefit most from the horse's movement in private one-on-one sessions?

If you answered "yes" to any of the questions above, then hippotherapy may be the most appropriate choice for your child.

Comparing Hippotherapy & Therapeutic/Adaptive Riding

HippotherapyTherapeutic Riding

Physical, occupational, or speech therapy, prescribed by a physician and delivered by a team that includes a licensed, specially-trained therapist.

The horse’s movement is essential to assist in meeting therapy goals.

Recreational horseback riding lessons adapted to individuals with disabilities.

Completed by a licensed therapist (occupational therapist, physical therapist, or speech language pathologist) in conjunction with a professional horse handler and a specially-screened and -trained therapy horse.

Completed by a professional horseback-riding instructor in conjunction with volunteers.

A one-on-one treatment designed to achieve individual therapeutic goals. Treatment, depending upon the facilities, generally occurs year-round until the client meets discharge criteria.

The individual is often taught riding skills in a group format, which runs in “sessions.” The instructor must respond to the group as a whole, in addition to fostering individual success.

There is direct hands-on participation by the therapist at all times. The treating therapist continually assesses and modifies therapy based on the client’s responses.

There is occasional hands-on assistance by the riding instructor and/or volunteers, but the instructor usually teaches from the center of the arena.

The goal is for professional treatment to improve neurological functioning in cognition, body movement, organization, and attention levels.

The emphasis is on proper riding position and rein skills, not functional therapeutic goals.

Horses are specifically selected for their temperament, size, and the type of movement they provide for the client.

Horses have been screened to make sure they have the appropriate temperament for the job.

Equine-assisted physical, occupational or speech therapy is reimbursable by most medical insurance (third party).

Because therapeutic riding is an adaptive/recreational/sport activity, not therapy, it is not covered by insurance.



Our Families

"We feel very blessed to have become a part of the TherAplay family of therapists, staff and other families."

Suzanne, Children's TherAplay parent

"Brendan squels and claps when we pull into the entrance at TherAplay.  He's made so many gains since he started.  The horse is amazing."

Brendon's mom

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