Equine Assisted Therapy, Hippotherapy, Speech and Language Therapy, Speech Language Pathology in Motion

Creating Language Opportunities in Hippotherapy – Spring Theme

Hippotherapy is a wonderful speech and language treatment strategy.  Our spring themed speech and language activities were a lot of fun.  Most of the children did this activity for 2 sessions or more.  All of the kids had a great time and asked to do this activity again and again, some even asked about it again weeks later.  This also happened with our St. Patrick’s Day Theme Activity.

Many of these activities could have been done on foot, but they were really fun on horseback with horses dressed like bunnies!  Take a look:

Hippotherapy spring egg hunt rules
Eggs were hidden along the sensory integration track.  Some were empty, others had something inside.  They were used to work on the concepts empty and full.  The eggs that were full had items from the categories food, animals and toys and were used practice vocabulary and categorization skills, answering yes/no and “wh” questions and using adjectives.
The eggs were hidden in all different places to help patients work on prepositional terms. Some eggs were in, on, under, next to, between, behind, in front of things on the track. Eggs were often out of reach for the patients and the patients had to gain the attention of one of the people assisting with the hippotherapy session and ask them to help get the eggs. Eye contact and appropriate use of pragmatic language was facilitated.
Baskets and activity boxes were also hidden along the track. This basked contained a sorting activity using the concepts big/little or large/small. Different size eggs were placed in the basket.  Patients were asked to identify which eggs were big/small and follow 1-3 step directions containing the concepts big/little or large/small (“give me a small pink egg after you give me a big blue egg”, “open a small egg”). The children also practiced giving directions to others.  They also practiced the concept same/different (i.e. therapist held up an egg and said “Find an egg that is the same color”, “find an egg that is a different size”).  Each of the eggs had a baby chick inside.  Some of the chicks were big and others were little.
This activity station was used to address higher level speech and language skills. Children had to compare and contrast, describe, and follow directions. Children were asked to “Take 2 bunnies, talk about what is the same about them. What is different?”, then “take two toys that make noise. What is the same about them? What is different?”, and they were asked to choose a toy and describe it to others so they can guess what it is.
This activity was used to help children practice spring vocabulary words with a motivating sensory activity. Spring theme pictures were placed in the bag (bee, flower, umbrella, basket, eggs, bird, butterfly, etc), and the bag was filled with shaving cream and then sealed. The children had to move the shaving cream to find the hidden pictures.
This basked contained eggs that were either heavy or light. Children held eggs that were the SAME color and identified which one was heavy and which one was light. Children then opened the eggs to see what was inside.
This spring sensory station was a big hit. The box was filled with beans, a variety of bugs, spring animals, sparkly grass. The children got to explore the box, and were asked to answer yes/no and “wh” questions about the things they found inside. Children were also asked to follow 1-3 step directions.
Gigi, dressed like a bunny, greeting a child before his therapy session.
This little boy was excited to go on a egg hunt with his bunny horse!
Gigi showing her bunny ears to another little boy before his therapy session.
King made an adorable bunny too!
King looking adorable!
One more cute picture of Gigi!

Speech Language Pathology in Motion is a private practice located in Hauppauge and Islandia NY.  Visit our website to learn more about us: www.speechinmotion.com

Tina is the owner of Speech Language Pathology in Motion, a private practice on Long Island, NY. Her continuing education has included training in numerous speech language pathology treatment techniques including animal assisted therapy, Hippotherapy, PROMPT, DIRFloortime, The SOS Approach to Feeding, NDT, LAMP, and TEACCH. Tina has been recognized as a board certified hippotherapy clinical specialist (HPCS) since 2011 and is one of only ten SLPs in the United States to hold this credential.

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© 2012 – 2015, Tina M. Rocco, M.A. CCC-SLP, HPCS. All rights reserved.

6 thoughts on “Creating Language Opportunities in Hippotherapy – Spring Theme

  1. Hi. This was really very exciting and this was the first time i heard about the hippotherapy speech sessions. Does this work for the adults who are having speech disorders. Thank you in advance.

  2. What amazing and sensory-filled ideas!! Any tips for working with young adults demonstrating dysarthria or dyspraxia of speech, during hippotherapy sessions?
    Thank you

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