Hippotherapy - Mothering Forums
Special Needs Parenting > Hippotherapy
StephandOwen's Avatar StephandOwen 12:27 PM 07-07-2011

Does/has anyone's kiddo done hippotherapy? We had talked to his OT a couple years ago about it, but I wasn't convinced (mainly because of ds's behavior issues). His behavior is improving and his OT just brought it up again a couple weeks ago. She really thinks it will help with his core muscle strength and some other issues we're having. She has worked with ds (on and off) for the past 4 years. She would be doing the hippotherapy with him as well. Just looking for stories about others, wondering if it helped.

 

As of right now, ds is afraid of pretty much every animal and his reaction was "you will never in a million, bazillion years get me on a horse" lol.gif  The therapist says that they would use a little mini horse and they wouldn't force him into anything. They would start with just being around the horse, then grooming the horse, petting it, etc and work up to sitting on the horse. The OT is thinking that not only would it be good for ds's sensory issues, but it might also help him overcome his fear of animals.

 

The bad news is that our insurance (united healthcare) says they won't cover it. It's $150/hour and he'd do it once a week.



SpottedFoxx's Avatar SpottedFoxx 02:08 PM 07-07-2011

OMG OMG OMG we LOVE!!!! Hippotherapy!  

 

Make sure you use an accredited riding facility - ours is with NARHA www.narha.org.  They will take their time with your son. It make take a few tries for him to be comfortable enough to get on the horse and then it make take a few months before he can ride a full session.  Depending on your son's size will depend on the size of the horse he rides.  My son started this past December and he was 5 and just shy of 50lbs.  He was introduced to Clementine - the miniature pony but began his rides on a full size horse.  Most horses are 20+ years old and are specially trained to deal with wiggly, even angry kids.  I've seen a boy, in a full on melt, put on a horse.  The horse didn't even flinch.

 

My son's behavior has improved dramatically.  His core, legs and arm tone is spectacular (the boy's got a set of guns!).  His speech is even improving.  

 

The most important thing about hippotherapy is that it's fun.  It doesn't feel like therapy.  His first 5 months were spent doing games on the horse to work on fine and gross motor.  He still does the games but now they are incorporating actual riding (how to steer the horse, jump pose, etc).  

 

Feel free to PM me if you have more questions.  

 

Edited to add that $150 a session is ridiculous!  I pay $120 a month - that's for weekly 1/2 hour sessions.


homemademomma 07:42 AM 07-08-2011

OMG, hippotherapy is amazing. We cannot afford it ATM but we hope to add it back in next year. Honestly, dd's enjoyment is the biggest benefit to us. It does help with her core strength and proprioception too.


Oriole's Avatar Oriole 08:01 AM 07-08-2011

I participated in it! not as a patient or a parent, but as a volunteer. I'd lead the horse and the therapists worked with the clients. I worked with kids as young as 2 years old and all the way into adulthood. 

 

It's really cool. I remember this man who lost an ability to talk and walk due to an accident, and was making tremendous progress by the time I was helping with his sessions.  Best of luck! 


karne's Avatar karne 08:02 AM 07-08-2011

$150/hour is pretty steep.  We volunteer for an accredited program, and I know it's not that expensive for the families.  It may be your OT's rate, plus use of the horse?

 

As an equestrian family, and volunteers, I would say that any time spent around a horse is valuable.  frankly, what happens on the ground is as important as what happens when mounted.  Kids will often have amazing connections with horses.  Just grooming a pony can be extremely centering and therapeutic.  

 

I would also suggest the NARHA site.  If it's totally out of your budget, as an interim you could think about a really reputable stable with a great instructor.  Kids can start off with all of the groundwork or visiting and leading/walking you want before anything even happens on the horse.  You would probably pay about $50/hour for something like this.  Just a suggestion--I have seen other kids w/SN go this route with a great instructor when their ins. coverage for therapy ended.


StephandOwen's Avatar StephandOwen 08:20 AM 07-08-2011


Quote:
Originally Posted by karne View Post

$150/hour is pretty steep.  We volunteer for an accredited program, and I know it's not that expensive for the families.  It may be your OT's rate, plus use of the horse?


Yeah, sorry I didn't specify earlier. The rate is for the OT, the use of the horse/stable and all other fees related. I did some looking around online, and it doesn't seem that out of the ordinary for our area. A lot of the other places seem to charge less per hour, but then charge a large fee (around $200/month) extra for "horse and stable fees".


Guinevere's Avatar Guinevere 09:07 AM 07-08-2011

Can't speak to the price, since our sessions were covered by insurance, but Sophie (who has Down Syndrome) did hippotherapy from age 21 months to almost 4 years (when she was diagnosed with a spinal instability and had to stop greensad.gif) and it was the BEST thing we've ever done, therapy-wise. Really, I can't recommend it enough.

 

When Soph started, she had *just* learned to walk, wasn't talking yet, wasn't signing yet, and she was a sensory mess, to put it mildly. Within two weeks, she did her first two signs: "horse" and "more." orngbiggrin.gif Not only was it amazing for her core strength, which drastically improved her gross motor, fine motor, and speech, but it was absolutely phenomenal for her sensory issues. I can't tell you, in fact, how much I miss it as a therapy modality, since while doing hippotherapy, both her sensory-seeking AND sensory-avoiding behaviors went way, WAY down: honestly, I was able to use that as the primary piece of her sensory diet and her behavior was just wonderful. Sigh... Did I mention how much I miss it? orngtongue.gif

 

I have yet to find another type of therapy that has been as beneficial for her overall as hippo. It was truly one-stop shopping for us, as it helped in every area. If you can find a way to afford it, I really think it would be great for him!

 

Kind regards,

Guin


SpottedFoxx's Avatar SpottedFoxx 09:37 AM 07-08-2011

That's for a private stable and an OT.  Is your OT certified in hippotherapy?  I'd go with a hippotherapy or therapeutic riding center - not a regular stable.  Plus, most specialized stables have scholarships if you can't afford to pay the entire fee - it can be subsidized by the donations.  It's worth it.  I agree that grooming a horse can be just as beneficial as riding and is a great starting point.  Our stables only allow children up to 100lbs to ride and then they offer a grooming program for older kids/adults.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by StephandOwen View Post




Yeah, sorry I didn't specify earlier. The rate is for the OT, the use of the horse/stable and all other fees related. I did some looking around online, and it doesn't seem that out of the ordinary for our area. A lot of the other places seem to charge less per hour, but then charge a large fee (around $200/month) extra for "horse and stable fees".



 


elmh23's Avatar elmh23 11:38 AM 07-08-2011

We did Hippotherapy for ds's sensory-seeking behaviors and speech therapy when he was 2.5-3.  He loved it and it was really good for his core (he had some tone issues, though never diagnosed.)  He also started blowing bubbles while on the horse.  All the in-put it took for him to stay on the horse meant he could concentrate on his mouth.  We ended up stopping right before ds2 was born because ds1 kept getting sick there and we missed about 5 weeks.  We went back for two weeks and those two days were absolute hell.  I don't know what changed in those 5 weeks, but he just couldn't handle it.  He still has sensory-seeking behaviors, but we discovered that the water was better because it's also cold and that's appealing to him.

 

As for affording it, ours was covered by EI, but I know that the stable (which was only a therapeutic stable) helped families afford it if they needed it.


joensally's Avatar joensally 11:47 AM 07-08-2011

Hippotherapy has helped DS's core strength, coordination, sensory issues and a bunch of other great stuff.  We love hippotherapy.  But not to the tune of a huge car payment!!  That seems pretty out of reach for a typical family.

 

We pay $35/30 minutes, with the PT trained in hippotherapy.  They are a charitable organization that relies on donations and volunteers, and I think they said our payment represents something like 55% of the total cost.  We're in a high COLA area, so land and taxes are not cheap, and wage rates are competitive.  So, it looks like the real cost is something like $128/hr.

 

Is your son doing straight OT?  I think that hippotherapy is another way to deliver remediation therapies, among a number of modalities.  If the cost is prohibitive, I don't think you're doing a disservice to a child if you're able to provide therapies in other ways that don't put the family budget in peril.

 

We found gymnastics (SN gymnastics where they accomodate behaviours/SNs but the coaches are gymnastics coaches with additional training and advised by an OT) very helpful in similar domains, and about $35/hour private.


hdirks's Avatar hdirks 08:41 PM 07-08-2011

we just started 3 weeks ago and it's AMAZING!!!! We have United Healthcare as well and they are paying for at least a portion of it. Have you actually talked to them about it? Because ours is actually considered "physical therapy" while riding a horse. So maybe it depends on the way they bill it. for your situation OT on a horse? My dd is alreay walking with her walker a MILLION times better and you can see a HUGE improvement in her balance when she is done riding. we go once a week for 1/2 hour followed by 1/2 hour physical therapy session. we are going to be adding OT into that as well come fall.

My dd is only 2 and they let her pet the horse first and she was ok with that so they put her on him and she seemed to be ok and they started walking him and she did great! And she is usually afraid of horses too......and this was a full size horse for my little 26 lber!

I would HIGHLY recommend it.

Also if your insurance doesn't cover it are you on a waiver? Because Waiver services will cover hippotherapy that insurance won't. Might be worth looking into. Good luck!!


shelbean91's Avatar shelbean91 10:31 PM 07-08-2011

Both of my boys are now officially dx'd with autism - Jake was when he was 2 1/2 and Seth just this past January (he's now 7).  Hippotherapy was GREAT for Jake - he LOVED every minute of it.  Seth - it was good for him, but he was afraid of getting on the horse.  Once he was on, he was fine, but getting on and off was a challenge.  They did grooming, petting, feeding, etc., and he really liked it, but was just too afraid.  I couldn't afford it, either, but both the stables and the therapy center we used had a 'scholarship' program which we were able to use - the therapist's time was billed like a regular session, we just needed to pay $40/session for stables fees, etc., and with 2 boys, and only one of use working, it was too much.  I decided to stop it, because if we were taking a scholarship slot from someone who would have more benefit, I didn't think it was fair.  If it's really out of your price range, you can ask about different scholarship programs.  There was another, outside scholarship that I also applied for - I don't remember what it was, but it has been a fund set up in a child's name and they would take one time requests for certain things that were out of reach for some families.


SpottedFoxx's Avatar SpottedFoxx 09:43 AM 07-11-2011

If you have registered with your state's Department of Developmental Delays, some states are helping families pay for hippotherapy since it's rarely covered by insurance.  Of course, our lovely Governor cut that from the State's budget but maybe it's available in your state.


StephandOwen's Avatar StephandOwen 09:16 PM 07-12-2011

Thanks for all the thoughts and ideas! My ex (ds's bio-dad) agreed that it sounded like a good idea for Owen but is now saying he doesn't approve of me getting this therapy for ds because ex would have to help cover the cost and he doesn't want to. So I'm pretty much stuck right now, but we go to court in November so it will be brought up there and the Judge will decide what happens.


SpottedFoxx's Avatar SpottedFoxx 12:16 PM 07-13-2011

Have your son's doctor(s) document the benefits of your son receiving this form of therapy.


KatWrangler's Avatar KatWrangler 03:04 PM 07-13-2011

Gabrielle just got on the wait list for this.  I am so excited.   The funds from the state were approved.


SpottedFoxx's Avatar SpottedFoxx 07:50 AM 07-14-2011


Quote:
Originally Posted by KatWrangler View Post

Gabrielle just got on the wait list for this.  I am so excited.   The funds from the state were approved.


That's wonderful news Kat!  Our lovely gov just dropped these funds from our budget <~~~major sarcasm on the lovely part.  

 


KatWrangler's Avatar KatWrangler 08:52 AM 07-14-2011


Quote:
Originally Posted by SpottedFoxx View Post




That's wonderful news Kat!  Our lovely gov just dropped these funds from our budget <~~~major sarcasm on the lovely part.  

 


I know what you mean.  We have been trying to get funds for  2 years now.  But yesterday I got a letter that she has been approved but is on the waiting list.  At least it is a positive step.

 


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