Hippotherapy is a multi-faceted treatment strategy using a horse’s movement to provide different input for what the child needs. Some of the potential benefits that hippotherapy offers include: arousal, attention, bilateral integration, midline orientation, expressive and receptive communication, core strength, posture, sensorimotor integration, engagement and self-confidence. Hippotherapy influences many human systems. 

Equine movement provides highly organized sensory input into vestibular (movement), proprioceptive (where body is in space), tactile and visual systems in the context of a meaningful, enjoyable activity. Gross motor sensory input on a horse promotes regulation, awareness and focus; allowing the child to be more engaged. Depending on a child’s individual profile, the therapist, knowledgeable in equine science, evaluates and selects a horse and equipment that progressively challenges the child’s sensory systems.

Studies have shown that interactions with animals releases a chemical response that helps with social engagement and happiness. Petting a dog or grooming a horse provides calmness and relaxation, while decreasing fear and anxiety. Taking care of an animal allows a child to learn responsibility while having fun.

Hippotherapy, adaptive riding, and animal assisted therapies allows a child to be outdoors in a more natural environment while receiving benefits of treatments seen in clinical settings. In addition to achieving clinical goals, this environment can also lead to lifelong recreational and leisure activities.


For more information about Katya Spafford and Hippotherapy, email at Tails4Therapy@gmail.com or call 404-694-0560.