SSPT, Inc. will offer Hippotherapy seasonally in the Spring and Fall at Chastain Horse Park when the weather is nice for little ones with special needs to enjoy an outdoor activity that works toward their physical therapy goals.
The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH) certifies our therapists and requires that both they and the facility maintain the highest standards for safety. We support all of our staff with their effort for continued education and exploring the latest research concerning hippotherapy. We use evidence-based practice and their clinical experience to customize each session in a manner that is integrated with our clients’ overarching plan of care.
Hippotherapy has been shown to create statistically significant changes in posture, strength, flexibility, muscle symmetry, and a number of other benefits. In a hippotherapy session, the horse partners with the therapist during the session, as targeted activities serve to address specific goals for the individual. Most of our clients receive home, school, or clinic land-based therapy and choose to attend Hippotherapy as a boost to their neuro-musculoskeletal and sensory system, We see marked improvement in most of our clients compared to if they only received land-based therapy. We call it the "Miracle of the Horse"!
Here's what one Volunteer has to say about her experience:
"In January 2016, I joined the Volunteer Program and trained as a side-walker.
Sue Soha was the first physical therapist I had the privilege to work alongside.
Working consistently with Sue over the past 4 years has enhanced me with a
deeper understanding of the body’s physical movement. Sue takes time to
explain and help me understand how to assist her therapeutic program as well as
how to assist the rider. Together, we have witnessed movement “miracles” little
by little, week by week. Sue has a natural gift and instinct of movement. Each therapeutic session she manages is specifically designed to meet the needs of the child, that particular
session. She is flexible, offering challenges, while carefully observing the child’s
response. Her deep inner desire to share her abilities of Physical Therapy to
enhance another’s movement is a blessing to all that have received it.
It has been a privilege to participate in the Volunteer Program at Chastain Horse
Park. Having the opportunity to work so closely each week with Sue Soha has
enhanced my life."-Debbie Evans
Volunteers-"Without you, they do not ride! "
Leader Training -We use the Taking the Lead method. Once you have completed training in being a leader, you will be able to sign up for your desired sessions.
Internships -if you are a PT student, or want to gain mentoring as a PT in providing Hippotherapy, please schedule a consult call with us.
To Donate, please schedule a call
Program Wishlist - If you have any donations of tack for our program or would like to give a monetary gift to purchase it.
Sponsor a Child - for a 12-week session. If you have a foundation or would like to apply for a grant to allow a child who otherwise could not ride
Hippotherapy is a form of physical, occupational and speech therapy in which a therapist uses a horse’s movements to provide motor and sensory input. Medical professionals use the movement and temperament of the horse to meet specific goals that cannot be duplicated in a clinical setting. The horse’s walking gait almost perfectly simulates the movement a child makes when walking, which allows children with motor deficits to develop muscle strength, normalize tone and gain endurance. The movement also facilitates improved auditory and verbal processing, communication and interactive skills.
Physical therapists incorporate the horse’s multi-dimensional movement to achieve gait training, balance, postural/core control, and strengthening and range of motion goals. Occupational therapists use the horse’s movement to improve motor control, coordination, balance, attention, sensory processing and performance in daily tasks. The therapist incorporates the movement of the horse to engage the sensory system in preparation for a therapy treatment goal that leads to a functional activity. Hippotherapy uses horses to accomplish traditional speech, language, cognitive and swallowing goals. Children with speech deficits learn to vocalize because they must give commands to the horse, which builds confidence and strengthens speech clarity.
Hippotherapy comes from the Greek word hippos (horse) and literally refers to treatment or therapy aided by a horse. The earliest record of the concept originates in Ancient Greece, but hippotherapy as a formalized discipline began in the 1960s in Germany, Austria and Switzerland as an addition to traditional physical therapy. In the late 1980s, the first standardized hippotherapy curriculum was officially formed by a group of Canadian and American therapists who traveled to Germany to learn about the program. They applied the discipline to North America, and it was formalized in the U.S. in 1992 with the formation of the American Hippotherapy Association (AHA).
Safety is a top priority of the program. All riders are required to wear regulation safety helmets and are supervised at all times by either a spotter or one to two side-walkers, depending on their functioning ability. Horses are matched to the rider’s ability level and are all thoroughly trained.
Hippotherapy is a widely accepted treatment modality within medical and educational communities. The unique combination of the horse, the horse’s movement and a non-clinical environment produces an extraordinary effort on all the systems of the body and allows children to improve functions in a fun way.
Hippotherapy is taught by licensed professionals. SSPT, Inc curently offers physical therapy. Students receiving hippotherapy have the assistance of two volunteers who help guide the horse and provide stabilization and assistance to the rider as needed.
Any type of breed of horse is eligible for the program, but we only use those that have great attitudes. Most of our horses are older and have had other previous jobs. It is essential to have a calm horse with a steady rhythmic pace.
Riding independently is not an inherent goal of hippotherapy but some of our students reach this place. SSPT, Inc. has had several clients "graduate" from Hippotherapy PT, and advance to therapeutic riding!
Children must be at least two years old to participate in hippotherapy and have a doctor's referral.