Hippotherapy and Autism2017-04-27T16:17:03+00:00


Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder typically exhibit deficits in language, sensory processing,  and social development.  Hippotherapy is an effective tool for treating autism because it provides strong sensory stimulation to the riders joints and muscles. Visual stimulation occurs with watching other riders.  Hearing the sound of horse hoofs and smelling the barn aromas impact other senses.

Communication and auditory processing goals are addressed during a hippotherapy session when the therapist asks the rider to follow 1 or 2 step directions, such as giving a high 5 or turning around backwards.  The rider is encouraged to communicate by telling their horse to go, either by verbal commands like  “go” or “walk on”, or by actions such as tapping or nodding.

Social goals are addressed during hippotherapy through the special relationship that the child develops with his or her horse.  The attachment between the horse and rider creates interaction with another living being, which is especially difficult for kids with autism to achieve.

Hippotherapy helps to develop memory, concentration, attention to task, balance, coordination, body awareness, and improved socialization. And the best part is that the kids don’t see it as work,  for them it is just a lot of fun!

Riding backwards helps to improve balance, strength, and postural control, which is really helpful for our little ones learning to walk.


Feeling the softness of the horse and the texture of the saddle and pad help our kiddos connect with their horse.


Kids don’t realize how hard they are working while they are riding. They just think they are playing at the barn!


“After Maliah started doing hippotherapy, she finally started saying her first words and taking her first steps.”

• Maliah’s mom

“Our daughter Kaelynn is 6 years old and has been participating in hippotherapy for a year and a half. We have seen results at home and at school that we were not seeing in the traditional therapy setting. Prior to starting hippotherapy, Kaelynn could walk and run but was uncoordinated, and had no fine motor skills. Over time we noticed that running became more natural for her, her hands became stronger, and she actually wanted to color, string beads, and cut with scissors. These things were super hard for her prior to starting hippotherapy.   She is also better at following directions and concentrating to complete her tasks.  The best part is that Kaelynn doesn’t even realize she is in therapy when she is on the horse. She’s just excited that she get to go horseback riding every Wednesday! I would highly recommend Horseplay Therapy to any parent who has a child with special needs!!”

• Kaelynn’s mom

“Hippotherapy has helped Ana to have better posture and more strength in her core and hips and now she is starting to walk!”

• Ana’s mom

Individual Results May Vary