Equine-Assisted Therapy’s Affect on Social Skills and Attention among School Age Children Joanne Gamache University of Puget Sound December 6, 2004 Introduction

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Table Summarizing the Evidence:


Study Design/ Data Collection

Level of Evidence

Sample Size


Summary of Results

Engel, B. T. (1984)

Literature Review


15 References

Use of a horse as a therapeutic activity in the treatment of patients with physical disabilities.

Improvement in midline stability, mobility of limbs, relaxation, and stimulated motivation and communication.

Glazer, H. R., Clark, M. D., & Stein, D. S. (2004)

Cohort Study


5 participants, ages 4 to 14, mourning the death of a family member. Participant in the Evergreen support group

6-week participation in a hippotherapy program. A closing circle at the end of each session for children’s feedback, and parent/ guardian observations. A volunteer associated with each child reflected on the child’s progress after each session.

Increased self-confidence, trust, self- esteem and communication skills, which transferred to home environments.

MacKinnon, J. R., Noh, S., Laliberte, D., Allan, D. E., & Lariviere, J. (1995)

Literature Review


30 References;

11 data-based studies

Review the physical and psychosocial benefits of therapeutic horseback riding.

Psychosocial Benefits: attention span, concentration, listening skills, self-confidence, self-concept, self-esteem, motivation, etc. Physical Benefits: balance, postural control, relaxation, strength, range of motion, body awareness and visual perception, coordination, etc.

Splinter-Watkins, K. L. & Calhoun, S. C. (1999)

Literature Review


12 References

Therapeutic riding provides equine-oriented activities, promotes therapy, education, leisure, recreation and sports activities.

Improvements were seen in sensorimotor, psychosocial, and cognitive areas, as well as increased attending abilities of children with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Social integration opportunities were also present.

Lehrman, J., & Ross, D. B. (2001)

Case Study


1 female, age 10, with visual impairment and multiple disabilities

10 weeks of hippotherapy

Increase in making verbal sounds, ability to stand independently, walk up a ramp with a handrail, rotate in a sitting position independently and began utilizing vision. Also, visual attention span and fixation time increased with signs of increased verbal communication.

MacKinnon, J. R., Noh, S, Lariviere, J., MacPhail, A., Allan, D. E. & Laliberte, D. (1995)

Randomized Controlled Trial


19 participants, ages 4-12 yrs, with spastic type cerebral palsy. Must be able to sit independently for 2min.

6 month therapeutic horseback riding program to develop functional riding skills, knowledge of horses and stable, and skill at games on horseback. Pretests and posttests to assess improvements in physical and psychosocial abilities.

Each child showed improvements in physical and psychosocial abilities. Most frequent progress areas were in attention span, social interaction, confidence, trunk control, posture, pelvic mobility and hand control.

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