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writeatyourownrisk 06-02-2014 06:47 PM

Therapeutic Riding vs. Hippotherapy?
Hey all!
So I've done a little bit of online research in the field of hippotherapy, and I just had a quick question: What is the difference between hippotherapy and therapeutic riding? (Also, is there a difference between these and "equine assisted therapy?"
I've seen the terms used seemingly interchangeably; in other cases I've seen "non-licensed therapy center," or "non-certified center" on some websites. I plan on volunteering at a therapeutic riding center this summer - I'm very excited!

Also -- I already know that to be a hippotherapist you have to be a certified physical, occupational, or speech therapist. Is this the same for being a therapeutic riding instructor or equine assisted therapist?

Thanks so much!

SlideStop 06-02-2014 06:53 PM

Therapeutic riding doesn't require a certification.

If you talking about equine assisted psychotherapy there should be a certified mental health councilor and an "equine specialist" present. Just like you can't practice PT with out a license you cannot conduct psychotherapy without one.

A hippotherapist needs to be a licensed PT/OT/ST.
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svb83 06-04-2014 04:06 PM

You are correct, to provide hippotherapy, a licensed PT, OT, or speech-language pathologist must be present. Hippotherapy focuses on the actual physical, occupational, or speech therapy goals. Riding skills are not a focus- typically the client will ride with a bareback pad or surcingle and does not control the horse. The rider may ride in different positions, like backwards, prone (face down) or supine (on their back), etc. Check out the AHA website for more info on hippotherapy: American Hippotherapy Association, Inc.

Conversely, in therapeutic riding, the participant focuses on riding skills (although physical or educational objectives may also be emphasized). Riders learn to control the horse as independently as possible.

To be a therapeutic riding instructor you *should* be certified. The largest organization for certification in the US is PATH International: PATH International
Some other organizations, like the PA Council on Therapeutic Horsemanship and CHA also offer instructor certification for teaching riders with disabilities.

In reality, anyone could go out and start teaching riders with disabilities. Obviously working with a center affiliated with PATH or at least with an instructor with some sort of certification would be the best way to go!

The term equine-assisted therapy is often misused, but should only be used to refer to therapy (in which an actual licensed therapist is present). This could include hippotherapy or equine-assisted psychotherapy (also called equine-facilitated psychotherapy, and requires a licensed mental health professional).
Check out the EAGALA website if you want to learn more about EFP: htpp://

Libbylou 08-06-2014 05:19 PM

I am certified by "Spirit Horse" out of Corinth TX. It's a bit different than PATH, where the riders ride in a round pen and certain steps are mastered before a rider can proceed to the next step. Very interesting. It is equine assisted therapy.

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