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American Hippotherapy Association Level 1 Treatment Principles

  • Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center 18675 Northeast 106th Street Redmond, WA, 98052 United States (map)

Level I Treatment Principles

This 4 day course is an overview of the principles of hippotherapy, designed for therapists (PT, OT, SLP, PTA, COTA, SLPA) interested in utilizing hippotherapy in their practice. The first day emphasizes the horse, and the importance of the quality of the horse’s movement working in treatment. Using experiential non-mounted activities, the attendee will learn to interpret the body language of the horse, groom, tack and lead the therapy horse, recognize desirable conformation, soundness, movement quality, gaits, and understand training, conditioning and humane treatment of the therapy horse.

Building on these equine skills, the attendee will explore the dynamic system of therapist, patient, horse handler and horse as is applied in Hippotherapy. Topics include: the history and development of hippotherapy in the US, understanding the biomechanical and sensory interaction of horse/human, horse selection, safety principles, patient and horse selection, precautions and contraindications, patient evaluation, maximizing the effects of equine movement including use of school figures and movement progression, the role of the therapy team members, documentation, business aspects and  current  research  in  the  effects  of  equine movement. 

Adaptive riding instructors, horse handlers, administrators and others interested in hippotherapy treatment principles are welcome to attend, teamed with their therapist. Graduate occupational, physical and speech therapy students must be in their last   semester  of graduate  school to be  eligible to attend  this course for credit.

Registration Information

All attendees will receive a hard copy of the AHA, Inc. Level I Treatment Principles Manual. The course fee also includes breakfast and lunch. During the course you will be on and/or working directly with horses. Please have appropriate clothing/footwear. Helmets will be provided. If your weight exceeds 190 lbs, you may be excused from the mounted portion of the course. Indicate any special restrictions on the registration form.

Cancellation Policies:

AHA, Inc. and the host facility reserve the right to adjust course dates, times and faculty to accommodate unforeseen circumstances including cancellation of  the course due to insufficient registration up to 3 weeks prior to  the scheduled start date. Notification will only be made to advanced registrants. Neither AHA, Inc. nor the host facility is responsible for any expenses incurred by registrants due to such adjustments.

Participant cancellation requests must be made in writing no less than 3 weeks prior to the course start date to receive a refund, minus a $115 administrative fee. No refunds will be given for cancellations received within three weeks prior to the start of the course.

Course prerequisite:

Successful completion of the on-line “Intro to Equine Skills” test reviewing equine care and management.  Completion of the course must be at least 3 weeks prior to the start of the course.  AHA, Inc. staff will confirm with the host site that the test has been completed and passed.  The cost of the test is $35.00.  Visit the AHA, Inc. website under “Curriculum Overview,” under the Education tab for a link to purchase. 

Continuing Education

A certificate of attendance will be provided. Contact hours total 27. Courses are not pre- approved unless indicated otherwise.


Pippa Hodge, BSR, SCSP, MCPA, HPCS

Pippa is a Physiotherapist specializing in pediatrics. She works as a consultant in the school district and infant development programs. She was instrumental in developing Valley Therapeutic Equestrian Association, where she treats adults and children using Hippotherapy. She is an examiner for the Canadian Therapeutic Equestrian Association (CANTRA) and is a member of the CANTRA Medical Committee. She has been active in therapeutic riding since the early 1980’s. Pippa has taught workshops in the UK, New Zealand, Australia, and in the USA, as well as most Provinces in Canada. Pippa is a founding member and board member of the American Hippotherapy Association and attended the Rommel Klinik, in Germany. In 1990 she produced a video “Analysis of Horse & Human Movement” which has sold internationally and won first prize for research in the1997, 2nd Festival du Fiolm Hanid Cheval in France.

Joann Benjamin, PT, HPCS

Joann practices PT in the Los Angeles area, specializing in applications of Hippotherapy and Feldenkrais(R) for children and adults. She directs the Therapy Services at Ride On, a NARHA premiere accredited center, and maintains a practice working in Early Intervention. She is a Board Certified Hippotherapy Clinical Specialist and a NARHA Registered Therapist. She has taught hippotherapy internationally, and has worked with the AHA faculty committee in developing the Hippotherapy curriculum. She was a founding member of the AHA and served on the Board of directors, as Secretary. She enjoyed a long tenure with the NARHA Health and Education Committee as the PT representative. She currently serves on the American Hippotherapy Certification Board and is an International Classifier/Instructor for the Para Equestrian division of the USEF and FEI (Federation Equestrian International).