Comparing Hippotherapy & Therapeutic/Adaptive Riding

Hippotherapy Therapeutic 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.