Horseback riding as therapy for children with cerebral palsy: is there evidence of its effectiveness?

Phys Occup Ther Pediatr. 2007;27(2):5-23.


A systematic review of the literature on horseback riding therapy as an intervention for children with cerebral palsy (CP) was carried out. The terms horse, riding, hippotherapy, horseback riding therapy, equine movement therapy, and cerebral palsy were searched in electronic databases and hand searched. Retrieved articles were rated for methodological quality using PEDro scoring to assess the internal validity of randomized trials and the Newcastle Ottawa Quality Assessment Scale to assess cohort studies. PICO questioning (Population, Intervention, Comparison, and Outcomes) was used to identify questions of interest to clinicians for outcomes within the context of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health. Levels of evidence were then accorded each PICO question. There is Level 2a evidence that hippotherapy is effective for treating muscle symmetry in the trunk and hip and that therapeutic horseback riding is effective for improved gross motor function when compared with regular therapy or time on a waiting list. No studies addressed participation outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebral Palsy / rehabilitation*
  • Child
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Horses*
  • Humans
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Recreation
  • Treatment Outcome