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Horse Legs




Unbridled Abilities has partnered with:


River Valley Riders of Washington County

Our mission is to enrich the lives of children and adults with special needs by providing equine assisted activities and therapies.


Walk On Therapeutic Riding Programs of River Falls

Walk On Therapeutic Riding Programs, Inc. provides individualized horseback riding related to equine assisted activities and therapeutic riding instruction to children and adults with any physical, developmental, social and emotional disabilities.


What is hippotherapy?

According to the American Hippotherapy Association, "The term hippotherapy refers to how occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech-language pathology professionals use evidence-based practice and clinical reasoning in the purposeful manipulation of equine movement as a therapy tool to engage sensory, neuromotor and cognitive systems to promote functional outcomes. Best practice dictates that occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech-language pathology professionals integrate hippotherapy into the patient’s plan of care, along with other therapy tools and/or strategies." 

Are you a "hippotherapist?"

No!  I am speech-language pathologist who incorporates hippotherapy into my clinical practice. The term ‘hippotherapist’ is a misnomer. There is no such thing.  Hippotherapy is a treatment tool utilized by physical therapists, occupational therapists, or speech-language pathologists to maximize functional outcomes specific to their clients’ goals. 


Are there restriction regarding who can ride?  

All participants are required to obtain a medical release and physician statement approving participation in equine activities. Additionally, candidates will be evaluated by a speech-language pathologist and a certified therapeutic riding instructor. These prerequisites are mandatory and meant to enhance the safety of the client, horses, therapist, and volunteers.  

How does hippotherapy differ from adaptive riding? 

Adaptive Riding teaches riders to control their horses using skills such as steering and stopping.  Adaptive riding sessions are conducted by a PATH International certified instructor.  Adaptive riding sessions are typically conducted in a group setting.  All riders are accompanied by a horse handler and 1-2 side walkers if needed. The goal of adaptive riding is for students to progress to the point that they are able to safely and independently ride a horse.  Adaptive riding in a recreational sport/ activity, and therefore is not covered by insurance. 

Hippotherapy is a treatment tool that is utilized by Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, or Speech-Language Pathologists.  These licensed therapists have been trained to utilize equine movement in order to facilitate progress toward their client’s goals.  The therapist continually assesses and modifies therapy based on their client’s response to treatment.  Unlike adaptive riding, the purpose of hippotherapy as a treatment tool is not to teach clients how to ride a horse. A therapy session incorporating hippotherapy is a one-on-one treatment where there is direct hands-on participation by the therapist at all times. Licensed therapists use traditional techniques along with equine movement as part of their treatment strategy.  All goals are therapy directed such as improving balance, coordination, posture, fine motor control, articulation, expressive/receptive language, and increasing executive function. Physical, occupational or speech therapy in which hippotherapy is utilized may be reimbursed by medical insurance (third party). 

Is there research supporting the utilization of hippotherapy?

Yes, the American Hippotherapy Association has compiled a list of journals that have published research on hippotherapy.  I encourage you to check out the link below!

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