What Are Hippotherapy & Therapeutic Riding?

Behind the Scenes

Hippotherapy refers to how licensed, medical professionals, such as occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech-language pathologists, use evidence-based practice and clinical reasoning in the purposeful manipulation of equine movement to specifically engage and improve sensory, neuromotor, and cognitive systems to achieve functional outcomes in a variety of populations. Along with the affordances of the equine environment and other intervention strategies, hippotherapy is a part of a patient’s integrated plan of care.  Therapists use the multidimensional movement of the horse to provide system-wide impact on human neurophysiology.  The motor and sensory input is coupled and highly organized, and the horse’s movement can be manipulated in many ways to address an extremely broad range of system impairments.  The horse provides a unique rhythmic, low amplitude, consistent, and can be sustained over time.

 

Therapeutic riding is an individualized program of restorative and enjoyable activities where riders specifically learn horsemanship skills. These skills translate into improved balance, strength, and flexibility for the rider. Studies have shown that riding can cultivate self-confidence and communication skills for children with emotional and psychological disabilities. It is also used to provide those with life-threatening illnesses a reprieve from the pain and depression associated with medical treatment. The riders develop a beneficial relationship with their horse through riding, grooming, caring for, and getting to know the horse.

 

The demand for therapeutic riding program services continues to experience rapid growth throughout North America. As of 2015, the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.), with over 850 Therapeutic Riding Program centers, reported that although its members provided services to 38,600 handicapped children and adults, 6,676 people remained on waiting lists. There are a limited number of Hippotherapy and Therapeutic Riding Programs in Arkansas, but none are convenient to the Faulkner County area. The closest program is located in Sherwood, Arkansas, approximately 30 miles from Conway.

 

HorsePlay Hippotherapy & Therapeutic Riding, Inc. (HHTR) is a not-for-profit program designed to meet the needs of children and adults with physical, emotional, or cognitive disabilities who wish to learn about horses and riding in a therapeutic environment. HHTR will provide well-trained and caring staff and volunteers in order to offer a unique and life-changing horseback riding experience to children around Faulkner County. Through the use of the horse, this program will provide an experience where individual goals and objectives can be met in a non-clinical environment.  The program will be housed at Horse Power Rehab & Fitness.

 

Most, if not all, families of children and adults with special needs, have numerous health care costs. The goal of HHTR is to offer hippotherapy and our therapeutic riding services free of charge to participants. However, even with volunteer help, our program will incur substantial costs that will need to be covered through various types of funding. The majority of our funding is expected to come from grants, individuals, and corporate donations. A number of options will be available for individual and corporate giving.