Horse riding therapy

Success with movement disorders


Horse riding therapy
Horse riding therapy

The term Hippotherapy literally means “treatment with the horse”. Specially trained physical and occupational therapists use this medical treatment for clients with movement disabilities.


In Hippotherapy, the horse influences the client rather than the client influencing the horse. The client is positioned on, and actively responds to, the movement of the therapy horse. The therapist directs the movement of the horse, analyses the client’s responses and adjusts the treatment accordingly.


The aim of the treatment session is to improve the client’s posture, balance, mobility and function. The therapist chooses different positions in which to place the client on the horse. This may include sitting forwards, backwards, lying across the horse and lying back along the horse.


The client is re-positioned throughout the session to achieve their specific treatment goals, but little other active movement is asked of the client as the movement stimulated by the action of the horse provides the therapeutic benefit.


Hippotherapy is a medical treatment that must be carried out by a Physiotherapist, an Occupational Therapist or a highly qualified coach under the supervision of the Physiotherapist or Occupational Therapist.


Unique characteristics of Hippotherapy

Horse and Human as one
Horse and Human as one

The horse provides a dynamic platform for treatment.  The three dimensional movement provides a unique treatment that simulates muscular development in the client.


The input to the client is rhythmical with three planes of movement to the pelvis rotation, backwards and forwards, and side to side.


The movement is symmetrical, repetitive and reciprocal.


Bonding between horse and client, provides a motivating environment.


Hippotherapy is offered for handicapped children and also for adults. Several of the facilities listed below also offer riding for the able-bodied. Facilities are always looking for volunteers and they always welcome contributions.


Quotes about hippotherapy:

Hippotherapy is great.  You should definitely try it.  When my son does his, his adductors loosen up in a way no amount of stretching seems to be able to do, and unlike stretching, it’s actually fun, exercise and outside!

I was watching Good Morning America today. They had a young lady on there with HSP since she was 2 years old. Now at 18 she is doing good because of horse back riding.

Our son who is 10 did the HippoTherapy for years and it really helped.

I’m 53 and have had noticeable HSP symptoms since first grade.  I’ve ridden horses all my life. I now have to work pretty hard to get my legs to spread apart while mounting, but it’s so worth the temporary pain. Actually, getting out and  loping/cantering the horse relieves a lot of the  pain.



Riding for the Disabled Association of Australia Limited. Their website includes contact information to provide people with a disability the opportunity to ride and enjoy all the activities connected with horse riding in every state and territory of Australia


Riding for the Disabled Association (NSW) website


Pegasus Riding for the Disabledorganisation located outside of Canberra, ACT


Riding Develops Abilities – with various centres in Victoria


Arundel Park Riding for Disabled Inc., located in Queensland





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