Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physical Therapy (MPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Thomas Mohr


Horses; Hippotherapy


The purpose of this study was to survey physical therapists nationwide who are involved with North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA) certified centers to obtain their perspectives regarding the need for more empirical research and outcome studies, benefits of Therapeutic Horseback Riding, and methods of objective evaluation utilized when determining patient improvement. Of the 261 surveys mailed, 125 (48.8%) were returned with 110 utilized for data interpretation.

Respondents indicated a large need for more empirical research to support therapeutic horseback riding as a treatment method and to facilitate increased acceptance by the medical field in general. Only a small number of facilities reported that research had been conducted at their facility. A total of 24 research studies were documented, 12 of which included studies performed by students working towards a Master's degree in Physical Therapy.

Seven separate objective methods as well as six subjective observation techniques were listed .as methods most commonly utilized to determine effectiveness of treatments. Twenty-five different benefits were reported among the respondents. Therapeutic Horseback Riding professional's level of training was variable. Respondents also indicated that a more comprehensive training of professionals would assist in appropriate and safe treatment as well as avoidance of complications from a riding session.