What is the difference between hippotherapy and equine assisted therapy?

Have you heard these terms used or used interchangeably?  Do you wonder what people are referring to when using the term equine assisted therapy?  Here’s my take on it based on the presentations I have done for NARHA National conference and through my work on the Educational committee for AHA.

Equine Assisted Therapy (EAT) can refer to work with horses by a licensed professional under their scope of practice. This work can include mounted therapy or ground work or utilizing the equine environment.  Professional that may provide EAT include physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, social workers, psychologists or marriage and family counselors.  EAT does not include therapeutic riding, driving or interactive vaulting.

Hippotherapy is a treatment strategy used by PT, OT and SLP that focuses on equine movement.  Equine movement to the mounted patient is paramount in providing quality hippotherapy services.  Hippotherapy is provided by licensed medical providers within their state licensure and scope of practice.  It is not a separate form of therapy.

Since, OT’s could provide hippotherapy and EAT, then what’s the difference?

  • If the client is mounted and I am using the movement of the horse to meet the goals outlined in the treatment plan I am providing hippotherapy.
  • If I am using the barn, arena, grooming the horse or other activities with the horse that do not focus on the qualities of the movement of the horse to meet the clients’ goals then I am providing equine assisted therapy.
  • Both hippotherapy and equine assisted therapy are treatment strategies that I may use to meet the goals of the client and family.

2 comments to What is the difference between hippotherapy and equine assisted therapy?

  • cna training

    found your site on del.icio.us today and really liked it.. i bookmarked it and will be back to check it out some more later

  • [...] Now what’s the deal about the difference between Hippotherapy and Equine Therapy? Well, I learned it is not to-ma-to vs to-mah-toe. There really is an important difference. Hippotherapy seems to be summed up like this: Hippotherapy involves the movement of the horse and how you react to it while you are riding the horse. Let’s say you or your loved one is dealing with a neuromuscular disability of some kind. With Hippotherapy you would benefit because you would be on the horse that is walking, and the horse’s movement, and your physical responses to that movement, along with the work of your therapist, would be how Hippotherapy works its magic. That is the difference and it is important. For more information on Hippotherapy, Equine Therapy or how a horse can change your world for the better, please click here. [...]

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