The Difference Between Hippotherapy and Equine Therapy

From Down syndrome to cerebral palsy to autism and more, many people have benefitted from using horseback riding therapy to effectively treat various conditions. This type of treatment stimulates the brain and simultaneously activates the use of thousands of muscles. Horseback riding therapy can be broken into two categories: hippotherapy and equine therapy. Understanding the difference between hippotherapy and equine therapy will help you decide which area to explore for your specific needs.


The Greek word for horse is Hippos; therefore, hippotherapy is broken down to therapeutic uses of horses. It addresses the mental health of patients. This sort of equine-assisted therapy is believed to use the horse’s movements to create neurologic changes that help improve posture, balance, strength, and coordination. It addresses the physical developments necessary to strengthen an individual’s bodily functions and can be used with young children and seniors looking to become more stable. Hippotherapy can help with flexibility, core strength, coordination, and walking for people with MS, a head injury, spinal cord injury, or those who require stroke therapy.

Equine Therapy

This is also known as Equine-Assisted Therapy (EAT), and it includes treatment using equine activities to promote physical, occupational, or emotional growth for people suffering from various disorders. Equine therapy is more about addressing an individual’s mental health, and it leaves the physical focus to hippotherapy. Equine therapy is said to be helpful for people with dementia, ADHD, anxiety, depression, or developmental delays.

Both types of horseback riding therapy benefit the participant. The differences between hippotherapy and equine therapy go to show how encompassing these movements and practices can be in different ways using similar techniques. Chariot Innovations has harnessed many of the benefits of this therapy to create the MiraColt machine, which allows individuals to complete horseback riding treatment from a controlled environment, such as a therapy office. The beginning stages of both equine therapy and hippotherapy can be difficult. Having more control over the environment and being able to mentally, emotionally, and physically support an individual during the process can be incredibly advantageous in seeing results over a short period of time.