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Hippotherapy: What is it? How does it work?

Hippotherapy… Hippos for therapy? Hippos is the Greek term for “horse” or horse therapy. Prior to becoming an OT, I had the opportunity to volunteer at a therapeutic riding center assisting in riding lessons for children with disabilities. I was given the chance to combine two of my passions; working with kids and animals. It was a life-changing experience seeing how motivating riding a horse could be for children with a variety of needs. Kids who were difficult to reach or connect with, suddenly became alive and enjoyed trying something new.

What is Hippotherapy?

Hippotherapy is a treatment strategy used by occupational, physical, and speech therapists to meet a variety of therapeutic goals. Hippotherapy is different than therapeutic riding in that therapeutic riding is purely for recreation and is adapted for individuals with special needs. Hippotherapy is closely monitored by a specially trained therapist addressing skills needed to meet functional goals. Horses utilized in this modality are also carefully selected for temperament and training. Students assist in grooming their horse encouraging responsibility and ownership in this experience.

What is does this therapy address?

Skills addressed using this technique include, but are not limited to core and upper body strength, coordination, balance, postural control, and communication. Therapists develop plans based on individual needs of each child.

How do sessions work?

Hippotherapy sessions can be carried out in individual sessions or as part of a larger group session which can be very motivating for many children. In addition to the many physical benefits of hippotherapy, using horses and animals within the context of therapy can be a positive and rewarding experience. Children and young adults who experience anxiety, have impaired communication, or difficulty with social interaction develop a relationship with an animal who provides them with acceptance, affection, and unconditional love.

Learn more!

If you would like to learn more about this technique or where families might pursue this nontraditional therapy, please feel free to ask and connect with me by leaving a comment below. Stay tuned—I plan to become certified to provide this someday!


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Patient Reviews

LLA Therapy

Patient Reviews

Crystal Scheibe

Great place, glad we found them. Been going to Medina over 2 months now and he loves Lauryn and Kyler. Wish they had more ABA therapy places available... live in Wooster and long drive everyday.

Karrie Swan LaRock

My 11 year old son has dyslexia and has made noticeable gains in working At LLA THERAPY. Katie is strong in her approach toward him and also keeps him comfortable enough to perform well. We will continue visiting both the Fairlawn and Hudson offices and recommend them highly.

Ron Monroe

My 9 year old just completed about 9 months of weekly speech sessions (due to his stuttering) with Matt Hagge at LLA and we are thrilled with the experience and results. What I thought might be a negative (what kid really wants to go to speech class?) was made very positive by Matt, and my son never hesitated or complained when we talked about class. He really enjoyed it and really took what Matt taught him to heart. His speech has been greatly improved and we definitely recommend LLA. Thank you so much!

Heather Dougherty-Pantoja

My son’s Occupational Therapist, Jess, is an amazing OT! She gives practical tips on working with my son at home and school!

Terri Apgar

I cannot say enough good things about LLA Therapy. My daughter was a client of Teal Simmons’ for approximately 2 years and was just released from speech therapy! She was diagnosed with Apraxia in 2015 and worked with Teal twice a week. Through Teal’s application of PROMPT therapy, my daughter had age-appropriate speech after one year. All of the staff we interacted with at LLA were absolutely wonderful. They really care about what they do and making sure your child achieves their goals.

Kelli Geisler Davisson

LLA Therapy has been an excellent experience for my son as well as my family! My son always asks, "When can I go see Ms. Jeannine again, is it Monday??" He has also made huge gains in only 5 months! I would highly recommend LLA and have already shared my experience with friends looking for services!

Victoria Hansford-Price

We are so grateful for our Speech Therapist Ms.Teal. We have seen a great improvement with our sons confidence and communication abilities since we have started "Prompt" therapy. What we love the most about LLA and Ms. Teal is that Kohl feels comfortable and relaxed which has played a critical role in his progress. Thank you Ms. Teal for all you have done.

Laura Lee Hogsett

They have helped in numerous ways. Speech, OT and behavioral. I've had numerous compliments on my son's progress thanks in very large part to LLA. I would recommend LLA before I recommend our local children's hospitals, though they are good, they don't have the staff that LLA does.

Amy Furukawa

We had a great experience with Matt Hagge at LLA! Our Middle School age son was becoming very conscious of his voice, which is nasal due to a cleft palate. Matt helped him to better form his sounds and project his voice in a way that makes the unavoidable nasality less noticeable.Our son is more confident and outgoing & even took on a speaking role in the church play. Matt has the perfect personality to relate with our son, and we would recommend him to anyone needing speech therapy services!

Jessica Havalotti

LLA Therapy has been an excellent experience for our daughter. I would highly recommend LLA. Miss Grace was so amazing and I can't believe how quickly our daughter showed improvement. Thank you!
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