Academic Scholarship

The variability of a horse's movement at walk in hippotherapy

Kinesiology, 44(2), 148-154, November 2012

Photo Needed Lee Cabell, Ed.D.
Department of Interprofessional Health Sciences and Health Administration
Zdenek Svoboda, Tereza Dvorakova, Milan Elfmark, Eva Janurova


The impulses emitted from the back of a horse during hippotherapy stimulate the rider’s postural reflex mechanisms, resulting in balance and coordination training. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the movement variability of the horse’s back and limbs and to determine significant relationships between the movements of the selected body points on the horse. Two English thoroughbreds and twelve female riders participated in six sessions of hippotherapy. Three-dimensional (3-D) videography was used to assess movement of the selected points on the horse’s back and limbs. The spatiotemporal parameters of the horse’s walk showed no significant changes throughout the entire measuring process. Horse movement within a given session was stable, and overall, inter-individual (between-horse) variability was greater than intra-individual variability. The maximum differences in the vertical displacement of the horse’s back across individual sessions were significant. With respect to the range of movement of the caudal part of the horse’s back, it is necessary to consider the instability of movements during longitudinally repeated sessions.


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