Powerful Multidimentional Dynamic Tool For Therapy


The average horse walks at a rate of approximately 100 steps per minute.  Just 5 minutes on a walking horse represents 500 neuromotor inputs to the patient.  In a typical therapy session, 15 to 25 minutes of equine movement may be incorporated by the treating therapist – which represents 1500 to 2500 neuromotor inputs to the patient.

Incorporating hippotherapy into an occupational therapy, physical therapy or speech language pathology session can serve as a powerful tool for the facilitation of the key neuromotor systems that support function.  Skillfully applied equine movement, under the direction of a therapist, can offer the patient the opportunity for complex motor learning.  Hippotherapy is combined with other standard therapy tools/strategies in an intervention plan designed to address the treatment needs of the client.

Strength, Muscle Coordination and Sensory Processing used for walking, talking, and the use of fine motor skills for activities of daily living and general attention to tasks have all been shown to be positively impacted by equine movement as a facilitation tool/strategy, when under the direction of a therapist, as part of a larger total plan of care. In additional, increased motivation and participation in treatment and social emotional benefits have been reported.

There is a growing body of peer reviewed clinical research that supports the value of including hippotherapy as a therapy tool/strategy in facilitating positive functional outcomes for a broad range of patients who demonstrate neuromotor and cognitive/communication deficits. (Source: www.americanhippotherapyassociation.org )



Hippotherapy means “treatment with the help of a horse” from the Greek word ‘HIPPOS’, which means horse.
Hippotherapy is physical, occupational, speech or language therapy that uses the movement of a horse as a treatment strategy.

Sunshine Therapeutic Riding Center
Sunshine Therapeutic Riding Center
Sunshine Therapeutic Riding Center

PHYSICAL THERAPY treatments focus on developing balance by improving core stability to stay centered on the horse. Postural improvements occur as riders use their muscles to maintain an upright position on the moving surface. The movement of the horse influences movement of the pelvis and spine in a multi-dimensional pattern and positioning on the horse can help improve range of motion, strength, posture, and postural control.


OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY treatments focus on the movement of the horse and how it impacts the whole person, providing input that the therapist can alter to physical, sensory, cognitive, and emotional systems to address daily living skills. The horse is incorporated into treatment through using movement, ground activities, and relationships with the horse.


SPEECH/LANGUAGE THERAPY patients’ neurological systems responsible for speech and language skills are impacted by the movement of the horse.


Therapy focuses on:
Improving arousal, rapidly gaining attentional focus, and motivation to participate
Patient’s behavior difficulties are often managed positively by altering the horses movement
Improving coordination, timing of sufficient respiratory support for quantity of treatment target per intervention

Often hippotherapy treatments allow for greater quantity of treatment target per intervention by reducing the amount of time a therapist spends gaining the patient’s attention and modifying behavior.

Hippotherapy may be beneficial to people with:

  • Autism
  • Down Syndrome/Trisomy 21
  • Cognitive disabilities including brain and spine injuries
  • Language and sensory processing disorders
  • Developmental delays
  • Genetic disorders
  • Depression


By partnering with KIDSOURCE THERAPY, a local, well-established therapy center and their qualified therapists, we will be the only facility in Hot Springs to be able to offer hippotherapy services. KIDSOURCE THERAPY has been offering hippotherapy services with their program FREEDOM REINS since 2009.



Therapeutic Riding is RECREATIONAL horseback riding lessons adapted to individuals with disabilities.

Sunshine Therapeutic Riding Center


Therapeutic riding, in comparison with HIPPOTHERAPY, provides recreational opportunities along with the therapeutic effects for individual with disabilities to learn how to ride a horse and enjoy the outdoors.

Taught by specially trained instructors certified by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl), therapeutic/adaptive riding lessons develop horseback riding skills in individuals with disabilities. The goal of adaptive riding lessons is for each client to reach his/her highest level of independence in mounted and non-mounted equine activities. Lessons may be private, semi-private (2 riders) or group (4 riders).

STRC is working on making this service available for their clients.

People with:

  • Autism
  • Developmental delay or disability
  • ADD or other hyperactivity disorder
  • Learning disability
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Down syndrome
  • Emotional, behavioral or mental health
  • Speech impairment
  • Head trauma/Brain injury
  • Hearing impairment
  • Intellectual Disability
  • Visual impairment


  • Genetic Conditions/Disorders
  • Youth identified as At-Risk
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • PTSD
  • Stroke
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Spina Bifida
  • Abuse or Trauma
  • Orthopedic
  • Paralysis
  • Epilepsy/Seizure Disorders
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Amputation
  • Terminal Illness
  • Substance Abuse


Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor through the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International

Scroll to top