Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Education (MAE)



First Advisor

Susan O'Conner

Second Advisor

Vicki Olson


Hippotherapy, or equine-assisted therapy, is a developmental tool for children and young adults with disabilities, conducted by trained physical, occupational, and speech therapists and assistants in areas focusing on motor skills including balance, agility, strengthening and coordination. Within its framework across the nation, hippotherapy is a specialized therapy for neuromotor challenges such as cerebral palsy. As hippotherapy is one of many complex developmental interuention strategies within both non-profit and clinical services, it is being explored more in recent years through academic research to better define its place as a clinical and educational tool. To better understand hippotherapy as a clinical or educational tool this qualitative case study presents the perspectives of one family who were involved in hippotherapy for their daughter with autism. My findings show that hippotherapy as a supplemental resource tool utilizing ABA therapy helps with self-awareness, self-management, social responsiveness and helps a child learn to regulate emotions. Therapies strengthening motor skills, vestibular and sensory functioning, help with balance and coordination, resilience, visual tracking and with communication. My recommendation is for hippotherapy to be included in best-practice resource lists as a social and emotional learning resource.


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