Pathways Ponies is our Occupational and Physiotherapy program that includes equine-assisted activities. The program takes place at Pride Stables in Kitchener, ON and encompasses a range of treatments that involve activities with horses and ponies to promote human physical and mental health. Pathways therapy has been running a Physiotherapy program including equine movement for 15 years. In 2020, Occupational Therapy with equine-assisted activities became available.
Equine-assisted activities are an integral part of the physio/occupational therapy treatment programs. The use of the horses for treatment is often a very enjoyable part of the therapy session but just as we use modalities such as hydrotherapy (pool programs), ultrasound, sensory or exercise programming, the use of horses to provide a dynamic platform for therapeutic exercise, and as a social-emotional tool, is part of an integrated therapy program, not a “stand alone” treatment.
Our therapists create client centered treatment plans for every client that registers for sessions in our Pathways Ponies program. The goals are based on the skills that the client needs to develop and meet the standards required for registered occupational and physiotherapists. We adjust our sessions to meet the needs of each client, but typically, 30 minutes of the session involve equine related activities that support the
client’s therapy goals. The remaining 30 minutes of the hour-long sessions are also focused on the client’s therapy goals utilizing other modalities we have available at the barn (i.e. physical exercise opportunities, art activities for fine and visual motor skills, games for social and communication skills).
There is growing evidence for the physical and mental health benefits of equine-assisted therapy programs (See research identified by the American Hippotherapy Association). Our therapists have witnessed clients increased motivation to participate in therapy sessions and increased speed and intensity of goal attainment
due to the novel environment, unique activities and relationships that come with the Pathways Ponies program. Our clients seem to be increasingly invested in connecting with their equine team, especially their horse, and challenging themselves to engage in the novel activities presented in the barn setting. We have been very excited to see many of our clients experiencing increased confidence, emotional regulation,
improved strength, coordination, balance, social and communication skills, increased engagement and motivation, and a sense of meaningful participation on a team.
Our therapists are always happy to speak to parents, case managers or potential sponsors about our program, and answer any questions you may have to determine if the Pathways Ponies program is a good fit for a specific client. Please contact Stephanie Boyd, Physiotherapist (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Nicole Raftis, Occupational Therapist (email@example.com), if you have any questions or concerns about the program.
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