Published Studies

/Published Studies

Healing Through Horses

Horses are amazing creatures! This is a great article by the Disabled Veterans National Foundation about horses helping veterans and how they do it!

Healing Through Horses

By |July 11th, 2016|Blog, Horses, Published Studies, Veterans|0 Comments

Horses Help Heal Kids Emotionally

This is great article. This is part of what we do with our Trail Blazers.

By |July 10th, 2015|Blog, Published Studies|0 Comments

Hippotherapy & Cerebral Palsy Study at Washington University

Long time beliefs about the positive effects regarding hippotherapy are strongly held. Now, results are showing that hippotherapy is indeed improving trunk/head stability. “The evidence collected by the Washington University team only confirmed what experts and parents have been saying for years: horse therapy can make a huge difference in the life of a child.” – Nancy Pasternak, Riding for Life

Researchers, therapists and parents are hoping the study results will open equine therapy to a wider pool.  “A lot of people are not able to get the therapy because they can’t afford to pay for it and if we can show that the therapy is effective, that it makes a difference for people and we have solid, scientific data to show it, then insurance companies are really obligated to respond.” – Tim Shurtleff, Washington University researcher

The “Changes in Dynamic Trunk/Head Stability and Functional Research After Hippotherapy” study shows positive changes in trunk/head stability after riding.  The experience of riding a horse provides a patient rider with 3,000-5,000 repetitions in 45 minute hippotherapy session.  More extensive studies will help provide the necessary proof in hopes that insurance companies will pay on these claims being submitted by those they underwrite.

Researchers say they were also impressed that children sustained the benefits of horse therapy for several months after their riding sessions stopped.

By |December 7th, 2013|Published Studies|0 Comments

The Effect of EAA on the Social Functioning in Children with Autism

This study evaluated the effects of equine assisted activities (EAA) and therapeutic horseback riding on social functioning in children with autism. The hypothesis was that participants would demonstrate significant improvement in social functioning following a 12-weeks horseback riding intervention. Autistic children exposed to therapeutic horseback riding exhibited greater sensory seeking, sensory sensitivity, social motivation, and less inattention, distractibility, and sedentary behaviors. The results provide evidence that therapeutic horseback riding may be a viable therapeutic option in treating children with autism spectrum disorders.

“Our results indicate that EAA services are a beneficial intervention for this population.”

Margaret M. Bass, Ph.D. – Catherine A. Duchowny – Maria M. Llabre, Ph.D.

Read the entire study here.

By |December 6th, 2013|Published Studies|0 Comments

Changes in Dynamic Trunk/Head Stability and Functional Reach after Hippotherapy

An article entitled, “Changes in Dynamic Trunk/Head Stability and Functional Reach after Hippotherapy” was published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.  The authors of the study, Tim Shurtleff (HHRF Scientific Committee), Dr. Jack Engsberg and Dr. John Standeven, found significant changes with large effects in head/trunk stability and reaching/targeting efficiency after 12 weeks of hippo therapy intervention.  Changes were retained after a 12-week washout period.  The study came to these conclusions:

“The purpose of this investigation was to objectively evaluate the efficacy of hippotherapy in improving head/trunk stability and functional reaching in children with SDCP. We used a motorized barrel and kinematic measurements to quantify mo- tor learning affecting dynamic stability of the head/trunk and the speed and efficiency of functional reaching that occurred in children with CP resulting from a therapist using the rhythmic movement of a horse as a treatment tool. These changes were compared with a baseline of the same movement patterns measured in an age-matched group of children without disabil- ities. Subjects were also tested after an additional 12 weeks to determine if changes persisted after the intervention ceased. Results indicated that children with SDCP responded to a series of weekly experiences with the rhythmic movement of the horse by increasing motor control of their trunk and head. This improved control of the trunk stabilized the proximal founda- tion of the UEs and may account for the improvements we measured in the functional reach test. Changes in trunk/head stability and in reaching/targeting persisted for at least 3 months after the intervention ceased. These objective improve- ments in dynamic stability suggest that hippotherapy can pro- vide a valuable therapeutic tool in the practice of OT and PT that may enable improved […]

By |December 6th, 2013|Published Studies|0 Comments

Benefits of Hippotherapy Proven By Washington University Research Team

Researches from the Washington University Program in Occupational Therapy, funded by a grant from HHRF, recently completed a breakthrough study on the therapeutic impact of equine therapy for children with cerebral palsy.

The study found that hippotherapy, the use of the rhythmic movement of a horse to effect therapeutic gains, improves both head and trunk stability and upper extremity function in children with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy.

“Beliefs about the positive effects of hippotherapy are strongly held, but not yet fully supported by objective evidence,” reports Tim Shurtleff, occupational therapist and lead researcher. “We have shown that hippotherapy is a therapeutic tool that makes a measurable and visible difference in basic skills that form the foundation of most functional activities of everyday life.”

The year-long study primarily involved measuring stability changes in children with cerebral palsy after 12 weeks of hippotherapy treatments. The team used a motorized barrel and Video Motion Capture to challenge and measure the changes in motor control that might have been learned on a horse.

Molly Sweeney, President of HHRF, was most impressed that children actually sustained the benefits of hippotherapy for several months after their riding sessions stopped. “The subjects were incorporating improvements from hippotherapy into their daily life,” says Sweeney. “They actually maintained a continuum of measurable improvement—better head and trunk stability and improved control of their arms as they reach—even months after their hippotherapy sessions ended. That was a really exciting revelation for us!”

Shurtleff, on the other hand, was most surprised at the magnitude of the “effect sizes”, a statistic that compares results of interventions across different types of experiments. “It is often difficult to say that statistical significance is equal to clinical significance. With effect sizes this large, the changes are visible to casual […]

By |December 6th, 2013|Published Studies|0 Comments

Benefits of therapeutic riding for children with autism extend to classroom

by Erin Zagursky |  September 24, 2012

Jennifer Anderson remembers when she began to see the effects of therapeutic horseback riding for her daughter, Claire.

Claire, who was diagnosed with autism, was sitting on the floor, placing stuffed animals on top of toy horses.

“She was giving them riding lessons,” said Anderson. “I had tears in my eyes. … This was a child who had never done any kind of role playing before, who had never really talked.”

Although parents like Anderson have long reported the benefits of therapeutic riding on children with autism, a new quantitative study conducted by researchers in the William & Mary School of Education is the first to show that those benefits also extend to the classroom setting.

“We saw the transfer of these benefits into the classroom, and we saw these benefits as a result of lessons that focused on riding skills. There is something about the horse and learning riding skills that is impacting these children significantly,” said Sandy Ward.

Ward, a professor of school psychology at William & Mary, led the study with the help of Kim Wendell, the primary therapeutic riding instructor, and the administrators at Dream Catchers at the Cori Sikich Therapeutic Riding Center in Toano. Kelly Whalon, a former William & Mary professor, and alumna, Katrina Rusnak ’11 also helped with the research.

“We have always heard from parents of students with autism about the successes and improvements they witness in the children as a result of the therapeutic riding,” said Nancy Paschall, executive director of Dream Catchers. “This study demonstrates their intuition with scientific data about the benefits these children experience from our four-legged friends.”

Measuring improvement

The study looked at 21 elementary-school children with autism who participated in therapeutic riding at Dream Catchers over a 30-week period during […]

By |November 12th, 2013|Published Studies|0 Comments