Jump Start Pediatric Therapy, in partnership with Running W Therapeutic Riding Center, is pleased to announce the launch of our new hippotherapy program in 2017!

Hippotherapy (from the Greek word “hippos” meaning “horse”) is a physical, occupational, or speech therapy treatment strategy that literally means “treatment with the help of the horse.” In hippotherapy, the horse influences the rider rather than the rider controlling the horse. The horse’s movement provides a unique sensorimotor experience that cannot be duplicated in the clinical setting.

The rhythmic three-dimensional walk of the horse moves the child in a manner that simulates human walking. The child responds to this movement by continuously making subtle postural adjustments to maintain a stable, balanced position on the horse. Over time, this increases the child’s strength, balance, and postural endurance. The variability in the horse’s walking pattern helps children with low muscle tone to become more active in maintaining upright posture. The warmth of the horse’s body reduces muscle stiffness caused by high muscle tone and spasticity. The horse’s movement is calming and organizing for many children, creating an optimal environment to learn new cognitive and communication skills. For those with sensory processing challenges, equine movement simultaneously addresses the vestibular, proprioceptive, tactile, visual, and auditory systems. Furthermore, many children respond positively to the enjoyable experience of interacting with a horse in a natural, supportive setting.

Children with the following conditions may benefit from hippotherapy:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Developmental Delay
  • Genetic Syndromes
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Sensory Integration Disorders
  • Speech-Language Disorders
  • Traumatic Brain Injury/Stroke

Children with the following impairments may benefit from hippotherapy:

  • Hypotonicity or hypertonicity
  • Impaired balance responses
  • Impaired coordination
  • Impaired communication
  • Impaired sensorimotor function
  • Postural asymmetry
  • Poor postural control
  • Decreased mobility
  • Limbic system dysfunction related to arousal and attentional skills

Prior to beginning hippotherapy, each child is evaluated by a licensed and specially-trained PT, OT, or SLP. The therapist assesses the child’s current level of function, determines whether hippotherapy is a safe and appropriate treatment strategy, and works with the child’s family to develop treatment goals. During hippotherapy, the therapist directs the child’s position on the horse, the movement of the horse, and the activities the child participates in while on the horse. The therapist analyzes the child’s response to all of these variables and adjusts treatment accordingly to help the child progress toward targeted goals.

Program Details:
  • New rider and annual hippotherapy evaluations are provided at Jump Start Pediatric Therapy. The evaluation is provided by a PT, OT, or SLP based on the rider’s targeted goals.
  • Hippotherapy is provided at Running W Therapeutic Riding Center located at 6147 W Harvest Avenue in Rathdrum, ID. The Running W offers a heated indoor arena to allow for year-round hippotherapy services.
  • Riders are scheduled for 6-week hippotherapy sessions at a frequency of 1 hour 1 time per week.
  • Hippotherapy is currently not a covered benefit under Idaho Medicaid and some other commercial insurance providers. Payment is due at the time of service for hippotherapy evaluations, and advance payment is required for enrollment in each 6-week hippotherapy session. Please contact our office at (208) 664-2468 for further information.