TREE House’s licensed occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech-language pathologists help children and adults with disabilities reach their individual therapeutic goals by using horses in a variety of ways during clients’ weekly therapy sessions. The unique treatment strategy of using the horse’s movement, the social environment that TREE House naturally provides, and the client’s motivation to interact with a horse is known as Equine-Assisted Therapy, or Hippotherapy.
During a client’s initial evaluation, therapists incorporate the personal goals of the individual with input from parents/caregivers and medical professionals to create a specialized treatment plan that guides weekly progress. The program operates year-round.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The movement of the horse walking simulates the human walk and improves balance, flexibility, and muscle strength in all areas of the client’s body. The horse also provides a rich, sensory experience to help individuals regulate themselves, so they are better able to focus and maintain attention in their daily lives. Enhancing communication skills can also be accomplished by using the horse because clients are encouraged to communicate with the horse verbally and nonverbally. Incorporating horse care activities – such as tacking, grooming, and feeding – help build self-care skills, fine motor skills, motor coordination, and motor planning. In addition to all of the above, the positive bond that develops between the horse and rider often results in increased client self-esteem and confidence.