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Discussion Starter #1
I've always thought that I would be a large animal vet as an adult, but coming into my junior year I'm just not so sure. I'm finally starting to realize the huge sums of money that would have to come from somewhere to become one, and just how prestigious the school I'd have to get into is. And after watching The Incredible Dr. Pol, I'm just not sure that I'm tall enough, strong enough, or...mentally tough enough for that sort of job. I'm only 4'11 and barely 90 lbs. I can't imagine me being able to pull a calf out of a cow or hold down a squealing 300lb pig.

God has recently begun opening my eyes to the world of therapy. I've always thoughts that therapy would be a very great, rewarding job to get into, but I never looked into it past that. I have worked as the head volunteer of a therapeudic riding facility for years, and I absolutely love working with the children there.

My question to you guys, is how do I get into that? My dream is that I be able to work as a therapist (PT or OT) for a while and begin saving up, and eventually become head therapist somewhere, and last- begin my own therapeudic riding facility. I have no idea how to go about that though, in terms of schooling, college, and what it would cost me/how long it would take. I don't even know what college I would need to go to at this point! So shoot me with whatever you know. Do you need certain certifications? Would I need extra schooling/certification to go from PT or OT to solely hippotherapy or therapeudic riding? What are your experiences with the job? Pros and cons? I'm all ears!
 

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In my opinion your best bet is to get your PATH certification. And work on a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy and minor in Business Management. Unless you want to work with psychically disabled kids than maybe a degree in Psychical Therapy. You can check with your state licensing board to see what the requirements are for licensing.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I'd actually really like to do work with physically disabled children. I was told originally that I could major in PT and minor in OT so that I can work as a 'normal' therapist before getting established as a hippotherapist if need be, and so that I'd have a fallback. But I've also been told that PT and minoring in Business might be a good way to go, so I'm not sure.

What exactly is PATH?
 

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I'm an OT. (Endiku - I've never heard of anyone "minoring" in OT! You can get an MOT and your DPT and become an entry level therapist in both fields, though.)

I really like my "day job" as I call it. It is very interesting, challenging, and offers lifelong learning opportunities. I choose to work at places that offer me the flexibility to also do the ranching and polo that I like.
 

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I also agree you should get your PATH certification! I was going to try and get mine however I think in my heart I want to pursue a different path.

I know you'll be able to get it girl :)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The idea of minoring in OT was just from a college student, its possible that you can't even do that xD After becoming 'entry level' OT and PT, is it possible to continue your studies in one of them to become more 'advanced' so to speak?

I'm a little confused about PATH still, as well. Is it through a college like a degree, or is it 'just' a certification that you take classes in?
 

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It's a certification, you can take online classes, but you will have to take the practical exam at one of their facilities.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
And I wouln't/shouldn't get JUST that certification right? It would just be to help me as a hippotherapist, and I'd still need a degree as an OT?
 

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There are different levels of the certification, many of the horse therapy programs require certification, to ensure that you know how to handle a horse and ride, and can assist your clients safely around the horse.
 

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And I wouln't/shouldn't get JUST that certification right? It would just be to help me as a hippotherapist, and I'd still need a degree as an OT?

There is quite a bit of controversy over the "hippotherapist" certification and the benefits of riding as a therapeutic modality.

But, to cut to the bottom line, you need to have your PT or OT degree, certification, license, and a doctor's order and approval of your plan of treatment to be reimbursed by insurance for the work you do (third party payors). There are some states that allow "direct access" to therapy, but finding a third party payor who will go along with that is rare. The "direct access" (getting a service without doctor's order) is optional and does not require third party payors to pay. They can have more stringent requirements.

Inability to bill third party payors is the biggest reason that therapeutic riding programs depend so heavily on donations and fund raising. Why they set up as non-profits and go for tax exempt status. The overhead is outrageous and the reimbursement is not there.

A degree in PT is often more useful if you are going to focus on physical disabilities with the riding. A degree in OT is often more useful if the program is going to focus on psychiatric health. Each can do the other, but if you wind up in court defending your plan of treatment or have to fight a payment denial you're education will not be questioned as harshly.

I know of a few programs that lease horses and space to PTs and OTs for specialized treatment that the therapist can bill for, while the center continues to operate their own hippotherapy program dependent on donations.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I see. Thank you for the clearer explanation.

So the general fact is that as a 'hippotherapist' OT or PT, I will very likely not be payed well, versus working as a normal OT or PT in a hospital or clinic? That doesn't necessarily deter me, I'm just trying make sure I understand everything.

I know of one program in my area that is set up as a 'third party payor' type stable, but they also have licensed OTs and PTs that work as normal in-building therapists as well. They're pretty much set up like a normal clinic...the difference is that they have a hippotherapy 'link' to their farm as well, so many of the clients do both types of therapy with the farm. Would something like that work for me? I know they they do very well most of the time as far as being able to pay bills, hire therapists and workers, etc without fundraising, so they must be doing something right.

The farm where I volunteer is Direct Payment, I think, but we're set up as a non profit (and licensed to be). We rely completely on the low fees that we charge (virtually nothing for what they get) and on donations/grants. I wouldn't want a farm like this because I've SEEN the financial struggles. Sometimes we struggle just to feed the animals, when we're going through a very hot summer or cold winter. We are 100% volunteer and the only licensed therapist is the BO who is a PT. We have no clinic or anything offered besides the horse therapy. We charge $60 a month to our disabled riders to ride for 45 minutes, once a week, or $90 a month to ride for 45 minutes twice a week. Even with the large amount of riders that come through, we barely have enough to feed, do repairs, and have a little saved away for emergencies. I'm often the only volunteer on week days, and on weekends it isnt unusual for us to have only 2 or 3 volunteers and 25+ kids that come through. The BO often has to substitute as a leader or sidewalker because we're so low on help.

This kind of operation is what I'm trying to advoid. They're lovely people, the farm is fine, and the kids do progress greatly, but often bills come from out of the BO's pocket and her husband has to work two jobs AND help on Saturdays to keep the place going. I want to find a 'happy medium' if such thing is possible. Obviously not where I'd 'get rich' or even be 'well paid' but I don't want to be going into the reds and having to dip into MY savings to run a place either.
 

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Endiku,

Begin with your PATH certification. That will get your foot in the door. It's kind of like an internship mixed with formal studying and then a few tests. Written and practical.

Then you should continue with further college education. You can start generalized and then get more specific later as you find out what you truly are passionate about.

Owning your own place will be further down the road. First you must learn the ropes and then you'll rock it like it's chocolate :)

Best of luck! Not meaning to be bossy haha
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Oh, for sure xD I wouldn't be even attempting to own a place until at least 7 or 8 years into the occupation after some serious saving. I just want to make sure I have a functional degree that will allow me to expand on my knowledge, start my own place if I so wanted to, or just work as an OT or PT my whole life. I want options so I can tailor myself to the economy, I guess is what I'm saying!
 

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No PATH for this one! Look into the AHA, American Hippotherapy association! They can give you more info on how to get to where you want to go. I would also start by getting a degree in PT or OT.
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Working as an OT or PT as your "day job" will most likely be necessary to fund things like rent, groceries, car, insurance, etc. Plus, it will give you the experience you would need to carry over into the equine assisted therapy venue.

Most therapeutic riding places are not able to pay much, so I'm not sure it would be realistic to think you could support yourself completely with that alone.

Best of luck to you!! Follow your dreams and don't give up.
 

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Working as an OT or PT as your "day job" will most likely be necessary to fund things like rent, groceries, car, insurance, etc. Plus, it will give you the experience you would need to carry over into the equine assisted therapy venue.

Most therapeutic riding places are not able to pay much, so I'm not sure it would be realistic to think you could support yourself completely with that alone.

Best of luck to you!! Follow your dreams and don't give up.
All of our PT, OT, and speech is NOT run through our facility. They pay to use our facility. The students pay directly to the therapist. Then the therapists pay us a "facility fee". Let's say they charge, ball park, $60 a session. $15 goes towards "facility fee". That means you have. Let's say you have 5 lessons then you get $225 a day. Teach Saturday and Sunday and thats a nice chunk of change for the weekend! Or any two other days. That's IF you can find an office, all our therapists have office clients and hippo clients.
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Discussion Starter #19
I see. That sounds very reasonable. And are these hippotherapists bringing in their own animals or are you supplying them? Sorry for so many questions, I'm trying to make sense of all of this in my head xD
 

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I see. That sounds very reasonable. And are these hippotherapists bringing in their own animals or are you supplying them? Sorry for so many questions, I'm trying to make sense of all of this in my head xD
Sure thing, keep them coming! No the use our horses, its included in the "facility fee". They just don't for FOR my center. They work OUT OF the center. Make sense?
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