The effects of hippotherapy. Review of current research (2013–2017)

Iwona Ciechanowicz, Anna Lubkowska



Introduction: Hippotherapy is an important method of psychological and physical rehabilitation. In the physical sphere it increases general condition, improves muscle tone, opens the way for a proper walking pattern, and improves motor skill coordination, mainly in balance and the sense of rhythm. Hippotherapy enhances orientation in space and body schema, and normalizes proprioception and exteroceptive sensation. In the emotional and motivational sphere, it increases motivation and acceptance of the therapeutic process. It enhances self-esteem and decreases emotional disorders. In the cognitive sphere, hippotherapy stimulates sensual feedback, improves sight and hearing. It stimulates attention, memory, thinking, speech, and acquisition of new skills. Finally, in the social sphere, hippotherapy activates and develops positive social relations.

The effectiveness of this therapy is increasingly often investigated in children and adults suffering from various ailments. Studies are conducted with different methods and produce various results.

The aim of this paper was to review recent reports on the efficiency of equine–assisted therapies.

Results and conclusions: The review involved 13 publications on equine-assisted therapies published in 2013–2017. It showed that the hippotherapy gives best results in motor abilities, mainly balance, posture and gait, as well as in social communication and perception.


hippotherapy; equine-assisted psychotherapy; horseback riding therapy; animal assisted therapy; rehabilitation; physical therapy; patient care; psychotherapy

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