100 Research Parkway, Waco, TX 76704
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Partnerships & Studies

Institutional Partners


(Department of Physical Therapy in Round Rock, Texas)


(Cashion Speech and Hearing Clinic in Waco, Texas)


(Department of Kinesiology)

Commercial Partners

(REACT Neuro-Rehab in Addison, Texas)


(Neurological Recovery Center of Fort Worth, Texas)


(Sports Medicine & Physical Therapy location in Marble Falls, Texas)


(BioPerformance Texas by David Lemke in Wimberley, Texas)


(Pediatric Therapy Clinic in Nashville, Tennessee)


— This page is under development —
Additional references will be added soon!


Published Hippotherapy Research Studies


The Chariot’s Research Studies


More Hippotherapy Research


McGibbon N, Benda W, Duncan B, Silkwood-Sherer, D. (2009).  Immediate and long-term effects of hippotherapy on the symmetry of adductor muscle activity and functional ability in children with spastic cerebral palsy.  Arch Phys Med Rehabil, 90(6):966-74.  {abstract}

Hornick, D., Henning, K., Swain, C., Hornick, T. (2013).  Effect of Therapeutic Horseback Riding on Balance in Community-Dwelling Older Adults with Balance Deficits.  J Altern Complement Med, 19(7): 622-626. (abstract)

Anderson, Susan Keel, (2014).  The effects of therapeutic horseback riding on balance.  East Carolina University, Dissertation. (abstract)

Asselin, G., Penning, J. H., Ramanujam, S., Neri, R. and Ward, C. (2012), Therapeutic Horse Back Riding of a Spinal Cord Injured Veteran: A Case Study. Rehabilitation Nursing, 37: 270–276. (abstract)


McGibbon et al (2009)

Objectives – To investigate the immediate effects of 10 minutes of hippotherapy, compared with 10 minutes of barrel-sitting, on symmetry of adductor muscle activity during walking in children with cerebral palsy (CP) (phase I). To investigate the long-term effects of 12 weeks of hippotherapy on adductor activity, gross motor function, and self-concept (phase II).
Design – Pretest/posttest randomized controlled trial plus clinical follow-up.
Setting – Outpatient therapy center.
Participants – Children with spastic CP (phase I: n=47; phase II: n=6).
Interventions – Phase I: 10 minutes of hippotherapy or 10 minutes of barrel-sitting; phase II: 12 weekly hippotherapy sessions.
Main Outcome Measures – Phases I and II: adductor muscle activity measured by surface electromyography. Phase II: gross motor function and self-perception profiles.
Results – Phase I: hippotherapy significantly improved adductor muscle asymmetry (P<.001; d=1.32). Effects of barrel-sitting were not significant (P>.05; d=.10). Phase II: after 12 weeks of hippotherapy, testing in several functional domains showed improvements over baseline that were sustained for 12 weeks posttreatment.
Conclusions – Hippotherapy can improve adductor muscle symmetry during walking and can also improve other functional motor skills.
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Hornick et al (2013)

Objectives: Falls are an important cause of morbidity in older adults. Equine-assisted activities including therapeutic riding (TR) benefit balance and neuromuscular control in patients with neurological disabilities but have not been systematically studied in older adults at greater risk for falls due to balance deficits. The effect of an 8-week TR program on measures of balance and quality of life in community-dwelling older adults with established balance deficits was evaluated. Design: This was a pretest-post-test single-group trial of a TR program on measures of balance and quality of life. Setting: The study was conducted at a Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) International Premier riding center. Subjects: The subjects comprised 9 adults (5 female, 4 males) with a mean age 76.4 years (range 71-83 years). Interventions: This included an 8-week observation period followed by an 8-week TR program consisting of 1 hour per week of supervised horseback riding and an 8-week follow-up period. Subjects received balance testing at weeks 0, 8, 16, and 24 using the Fullerton Advanced Balance Scale (FABS), and quality of life was measured at weeks 8 and 16 using the Rand SF (short form) 36 quality-of-life measure. Outcome measures: Outcome measures were change in the FABS and Rand SF 36. Results: There was no significant difference in balance scores between the start and end of the observation period. There was a significant improvement in the balance score and perception of general health from the start to the end of the intervention period, and no significant difference between the end of the intervention and the end of study, suggesting that improvements may have been sustained. Conclusions: TR is a safe activity for older adults with mild to moderate balance deficits and leads to both improvements in balance and quality of life. Longer and larger studies to assess the benefit of equine-assisted activities on improvements in balance and reduction in fall risk are needed.
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Anderson (2014)

The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of therapeutic horseback riding as a therapeutic intervention to improve the balance of thirty individuals who participated in a Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH) therapeutic riding member program. The study lasted ten weeks, with each participant receiving the intervention for thirty minutes, once a week. The Multi-Directional Reach Test (MDRT) (Newman, 2001) was used as an instrument to quantify balance before and after the first intervention, the beginning of the second intervention, and after the last intervention. The therapeutic riding program began with active arm movements to encourage stretching, and required two forms of external perturbations involving at least three transitions, and the completion of at least one figure eight to challenge balance of riders with disabilities. This quasi-experimental study used a one-group pretest-posttest design to examine the effects of therapeutic horseback riding on balance. Paired t-tests and repeated measures ANOVAs were used to examine a relationship between therapeutic horseback riding and balance. The discussion presents practitioner applications and research implications.  Conclusion: The results of this study show a valuable therapeutic outcome for the individuals that participated in this intervention. Balance positively improved over the comprehensive program for the long-term period of this study, and these improvements were sustained once the intervention was complete. It is important for interventions to be effective and efficient, and this study found that therapeutic horseback riding was able to maximize the individual’s potential for balance.
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Asselin et al (2012)

Purpose – To determine an incomplete spinal cord injured veteran’s experience following participation in a therapeutic horseback riding program.
Methods – Following the establishment of a nationwide therapeutic riding program for America’s wounded service veterans in 2007, a Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse from the Michael E. DeBakey Veteran Affairs Medical Center worked with an incomplete spinal cord injured veteran who participated in the Horses for Heroes program.
Results – This program resulted in many benefits for the veteran, including an increase in balance, muscle strength, and self-esteem.
Discussion – A physical, psychological, and psychosocial benefit of therapeutic horseback riding is shown to have positive results for the spinal cord injured. Therapeutic riding is an emerging field where the horse is used as a tool for physical therapy, emotional growth, and learning.
Conclusion – Veterans returning from the Iraq/Afghanistan war with traumatic brain injuries, blast injuries, depression, traumatic amputations, and spinal cord injuries may benefit from this nurse-assisted therapy involving the horse.
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