Equine Assisted Therapy

Equine-assisted therapy (EAT) is treatment that incorporates equine activities and/or the equine environment.  EAT can include any specific center activity, such as therapeutic riding, mounted or ground activities, grooming, stable work, games, activities, sensory trail, or obstacles.  Rehabilitative goals are related to the patient’s needs and the medical professional’s standards of practice.  EAT involves clients, volunteers, and instructors.

Horses of Hope’s (HOH) staff is very skilled in developing and expanding equine assisted therapeutic programs to address emotional, physical and behavioral challenges. We have worked with more than 92 physical and cognitive disabilities including: ADHD, cerebral palsy, spinal cord and brain injury, muscular dystrophy, mental retardation, Down syndrome, multiple sclerosis, attention deficit disorder, autism spectrum disorders, and hearing and visual impairment

Riding a horse is a beneficial activity for anyone challenged with a physical, emotional or behavioral disability.  In the United States approximately 18.7% of people have a disability, and 12.6% of those with a disability, have a severe disability (Brault, 2012).  Since 2005, the number of people with a disability has increased by 2.2 million.

The uniqueness of equine assisted activities lies in the gait of a horse.

A horse has gaits that are three dimensional – enabling the rider to experience:

  • up/down
  • forward/backward
  • side-to-side motion

This simultaneously stimulates nerves, muscles, and brain activity.

Equestrian activities in and out of a therapeutic setting:

  • improve physical functionality – balance, strength, coordination
  • improve emotional functionality – focus, self-awareness, empathy
  • improve social well-being – confidence, mobility, independence.

Equine Assisted Therapy programs promote health for the mind, body and soul, and support the physical and emotional needs of our clients.


A physical, occupational or speech therapy treatment strategy that utilizes equine movement.  The term hippotherapy comes from the Greek word Hippos which means horse, and refers to the use of the horse’s movement as a treatment modality by physical therapists, occupational therapists, or speech/language pathologists to address impairments, functional limitations and disabilities in patients with neuromotor and sensory dysfunction.  The therapists use equine assistance to provide clinical evaluation of the client(s) and prescribe a treatment plan using horses.

Horses of Hope Oregon’s goal is to use our therapy horses to improve the lives of our participants, and renew hope in their own capabilities.