Equine-Assisted Activities and Therapies Ranking: Insufficient/Mixed evidence

Autistic child riding a horse with instructor

Equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) is a term used to describe any kind of intervention based around the use of horses and/or the horses' environment.  

Equine-assisted activities include a wide range of horse-related activities (such as therapeutic horseback riding, interactive vaulting, therapeutic carriage driving, as well as grooming and stable management).

Equine-assisted therapies include hippotherapy (use of a horse to improve neurological function and sensory processing) and equine-assisted psychotherapy (use of a horse to improve mental health).

Our Opinion

There is an extremely limited amount of research evidence of a sufficiently high quality to suggest that therapeutic horseback riding may provide some benefits to some individuals on the autism spectrum.

There is insufficient evidence to determine if hippotherapy provides any benefits to individuals on the autism spectrum.

There is no research to suggest other forms of equine-assisted activities and therapies, such as equine-assisted psychotherapy, provide any benefits to individuals on the autism spectrum.

Small-scale, pilot trials of the effects of therapeutic horseback riding and hippotherapy should be carried out on individuals on the autism spectrum to determine their effectiveness and safety. 


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06 Jun 2018