“Hippotherapy” Using Equine Movement as a Speech Language Therapy Tool:

Why does a speech language pathologists (SLP), incorporate hippotherapy in practice? 

To engage sensory, neuromotor and cognitive systems to promote functional outcomes in the area of communication.

Many patients I see who experience communication disorder have difficulty with sensory regulation and are consistently moving about the clinic room. These kids struggle with the ability to positively sustain attention to presented therapy tasks. This often accompanies children exhibiting symptoms associated with attention deficit disorders and an autism spectrum disorder. The SLP if often focusing much of the time trying to establish joint attention before being able to focus on therapy targets. 

These speech therapy patients who commonly have difficulty with attention in the clinic receive between 2500 to 3500 neuro motor inputs via the 3-dimensional equine movement. This helps stimulate the patient’s sensory and cognitive systems and improves their ability to attend to therapy directed tasks. The patient is no longer seeking to move about the room and is now experiencing the purposeful equine movement; yielding improvements with positive attentional focus. It is then possible to more effectively engage the patient with purposeful intervention techniques that are often used in a clinical setting. 

A patient who has limited success in a clinical setting, where the patient struggles to attend to structured intervention tasks and is expected to sit at a table or on a mat, will likely benefit from using hippotherapy. This tool offers both a dynamic and static surface that can be manipulated to increase positive therapeutic outcomes.

Once the patient’s attention is gained with the help of the purposeful equine movement, the SLP can overlay traditional intervention strategies while mounted. The strategic options are endless.  Language based intervention can be incorporated using all sorts of toys, manipulatives, literacy activities, articulation/phonologic intervention, semantic training, as well as comprehending and executing multi-step instructions.

One of the best aspects of speech therapy treatments that incorporate hippotherapy is that patient’s do not realize its therapy! They show improved engagement because they are having fun on the horse.

Terri Hutchison M.A., CCC-SLP

Speech Language Pathologist

Our Services

Clinical Speech Therapy

Adult & Pediatric Therapy

Speech and language assessments and intervention services for all ages. We aim to meet the specific needs of each patient.

  • Apraxia
  • Stuttering
  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Stroke
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
  • Syndromes
  • Developmental Disabilities
  • Early Intervention
  • Receptive and expressive language disorders

Accent Modification & Reduction

With hard work and practice, it is possible to change the way that you pronounce words. Changing your accent is also known as accent modification. It can be difficult to change your accent on your own.

A speech-language pathologist can assist with helping:

  • People who speak English as a second language.
  • People who want to change their regional accent.
  • Professionals who want to communicate better at work.
  • Actors who need to learn a new accent for a role.


American Hippotherapy Association

What is hippotherapy?

Purposeful manipulation of the horses movement to engage sensory, neuromotor, and cognitive systems to achieve functional outcomes.

This treatment strategy is used by physical, occupational and speech therapists.

The sensory input positively impacts the patient’s state of arousal and often improves attention and focus towards participation in therapist guided speech and language interventions.

Human Systems Influenced:

  • Sensory
  • Vestibular
  • Proprioceptive
  • Tactile
  • Visual
  • Motor Coordination
  • Musculoskelatal
  • Nervous system

Social Skills

Our programs are interactive trainings to improve pragmatic language skills.

Our group treatments are organized so that each patient’s level of pragmatic language skills are closely matched. Contact our office for more information.


Can’t make it in to our clinic? No problem!

We offer online therapy via web cam to patients throughout California.


Hippotherapy is provided through The J.F. Shea Center. Fee information is determined by the center. Scholarship applications are accepted by the center.

Speech and Language Evaluations: $350-$800
Clinical SpeechTherapy: $150/ treatment

We accept most insurance plans

In-Network Provider with “Blueshield of California” & “Healthnet”

Vendor with “Regional Center of Orange County”