Therapy Services

Therapy Services – Occupational Therapy utilizing hippotherapy

Strides Occupational Therapy Services has partnered with Special Equestrians to provide occupational therapy services using hippotherapy as a treatment strategy. Using our valuable equines, children and adults can receive therapy services like never before. The minimum age to receive these services is 2 years old. For information or to schedule an evaluation, please contact Strides Occupational Therapy at 239-404-8329

What is Hippotherapy?

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 to engage sensory, neuromotor, and cognitive systems to achieve functional outcomes. In conjunction with the affordances of the equine environment and other treatment strategies, hippotherapy is part of a patient’s integrated plan of care. (American Hippotherapy Association definition).

You will see many benefits from adding hippotherapy to a plan of care including improvements in sensorimotor integration, motor timing and coordination, strength, endurance, balance, midline orientation, bilateral integration, speech, mobility, and many more.

How it Works

Neuromotor: The movement of a horse’s hind legs and pelvis is transmitted to the person riding, which causes movement in the pelvis of that person. The rhythmical and symmetrical gait of the horse provides about 3000 “walking” steps to the client in one 30-minute session.

Sensory: The horse, farm site, barn, and arena all provide countless opportunities for sensory exposure on every level.

Cognitive: The client may have to complete complex tasks like following multiple step directions or recalling a sequence of movements, or more simpler tasks like remembering their horse’s name and color. 

Sarah Poindexter, MS, OTR/L began the certification process in 2015 by taking the American Hippotherapy Association’s Level 1 and 2 courses, and successfully passing the AHCB (American Hippotherapy Board Certification) board examination in 2016. She also became a PATH, Intl. Registered Therapist in 2016. As an AHCB certified therapist, she began offering hippotherapy as a treatment strategy in January of 2018 at Special Equestrians, Inc. in Ft. Myers, Florida.