Frequently Asked Questions
Hippotherapy Program FAQs
Q. What is Hippotherapy (HPOT)?
A. According to The American Hippotherapy Association’s definition of Hippotherapy is: “Hippotherapy is a physical, occupational and speech therapy treatment strategy that utilizes equine movement. Hippotherapy is part of an integrated treatment program to achieve functional outcomes. Hippotherapy is provided by a specially trained physical therapist, physical therapy assistant, occupational therapist, certified occupational therapy assistant or speech and language pathologist”.
Q. For whom is HPOT appropriate?
A. The AHA website lists the general indications for hippotherapy for the population of children and adults with mild to severe neuromusculoskeletal dysfunction. “Impairments that may be modified with hippotherapy are: Abnormal tone, impaired balance responses, impaired coordination, impaired communication, impaired sensorimotor function, postural asymmetry, poor postural control, decreased mobility, limbic system function related to arousal, motivation, and attention. Functional limitations relating to the following general areas may be improved with hippotherapy: Gross motor skills such as sitting, standing, walking, speech and language abilities, behavioral and cognitive abilities. Medical Conditions : The primary medical conditions, which may manifest some or all of the above problems and may be indications for hippotherapy,... However, hippotherapy is not for every patient. Specially trained health professionals must evaluate each potential patient on an individual basis. Cerebral Palsy, Cerebral Vascular Accident (stroke), Developmental Delay, Down Syndrome, Functional Spinal Curvature, Learning or language disabilities, Multiple Sclerosis, Sensory Integrative Dysfunction, Traumatic Brain Injury” are some of these medical conditions.
We encourage you to log on to PATH scroll down to the Participants box then click on "Who can Participate?". This will allow you to view the standards, precautions, and contraindications to see if your child is a candidate to participate in a hippotherapy program.
Q. Who should provide HPOT services?
A. Our pilot Hippotherapy program will be providing pediatric physical therapy services which incorporates hippotherapy – a movement strategy utilizing the 3 dimensional movement of the horse, as a component of the patient’s treatment session. The services are provided by a Georgia licensed Physical Therapist, Rebecca McGelligott, and a Georgia licensed Physical Therapist Assistant, Linda Abercrombie. Both are specially trained in the use of hippotherapy and are Therapists currently registered with the American Hippotherapy Association (AHA) and with the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH).
Q. Is a prescription needed for hippotherapy?
A. In the state of Georgia, an individual must have a written prescription from a Physician in order to receive Physical Therapy services. A prescription written out for hippotherapy is not acceptable, rather it must specifically state PT. The M.D. may list HPOT as one of the strategies.
Q. How is hippotherapy paid for?
A. Horse Time is only able to accept out of pocket payments for services provided. The fee for a session is $100.00, payable at the time/day of service. Filing of an insurance claim is the participant/custodian’s responsibility and Horse Time does not guarantee these services will be reimbursable by your insurance plan nor that your insurance company will reimburse at the full amount. If services are denied, or they are only partially reimbursed, any difference is the sole responsibility of the participant/custodian.
For further information please feel free to contact Horse Time at 770-784-9777.
Additional Details of Hippotherapy at Horse Time:
Physical Therapy treatment sessions at Horse Time will be approximately 45 minutes. During the session, hippotherapy may be a tool that is only utilized during part of the treatment – less than 15 minutes or up to 45 minutes. The amount of time utilizing HPOT within the PT treatment session will depend on weather, the patient’s endurance level, strategies and the functional goals of the patient. Sessions will take place in the gym/treatment area, hippotherapy ring, covered aisle way, tackroom or yard area. All treatments are in a natural environment which may run at the same time with typical students riding lessons, or staff and boarders activities, all under supervision of the other program’s or facility staff.
We will hold PT sessions rain or shine as we have indoor access to the gym and other facilities.
Hippotherapy sessions will run on an eight treatment session basis. The application and up-dated Physician’s Prescription for Physical Therapy must be in the office and reviewed by Horse Time staff prior to acceptance into the program. The first visit will be the initial evaluation performed by Rebecca McElligott, DPT then there will be six treatment sessions provided either by Dr. McElligott or Linda Abercrombie, PTA. The eighth session will either be a reevaluation for services or a discharge from services, again performed by Dr. McElligott.
If the P.T. and Physician deem services are still needed, and the participant/custodian would like to continue services, it will be the responsibility of the participants/custodian to keep the prescription for P.T. services up-to-date and on file at Horse Time. The patient will remain in the same time slot unless other arrangements have been made. We will assist with reminding you of the expiration date of the prescription for services. If the prescription expires, be aware, we are legally unable to provide treatment until one has been submitted to Horse Time. There may be special circumstances where the patient is not able to participate in the Hippotherapy Program for the full eight weeks. This situation will be discussed with all involved and a discharge appt. will be scheduled.
Our Therapists are willing to assist you by contacting your insurance company (with your permission) to check if they have any exclusions to physical therapy services. We are also willing to provide information to your insurance company or Physician regarding hippotherapy. You will still have the sole responsibility for payment of services.
After your initial evaluation session, you may contact the Hippotherapy Director by leaving a message on the Horse Time voicemail or email her if you do not require an immediate response. You may also call/leave a message directly on Linda Abercrombie’s cell phone – 770-377-4667 for a quicker response. If you need to talk with Dr. McElligott directly, you may leave a message either on the HT voicemail, Linda’s email or Linda’s cell phone and your message will be forwarded to Dr. McElligott.
FAQs regarding other Horse Time services:
Q. What is “therapeutic horsemanship” as it is offered at Horse Time?
A. Therapeutic horsemanship at Horse Time is simply providing a horsemanship lesson to individuals and groups with special needs while modifying the lesson to accommodate the special need. The lesson may include grooming, horse handling and care, barn management (such as stall or tack cleaning; feeding), learning about horse behavior such as body language and herd behavior, or mounted activities such as riding and vaulting (gymnastics on the back of a horse). Horse Time integrates psychosocial and behavioral goal achievement into the lessons as desired and appropriate (such as self-esteem, body awareness, social skills).
Q. What is “equine-facilitated psychotherapy” (EFP) and how is it different than therapeutic horsemanship?
A. While an EFP session may look just like a therapeutic horsemanship session as far as the physical activities involved, the two are very different. A client participating in EFP is working on the achievement of measurable psychosocial and behavioral goals specified in their treatment plan. The sessions are facilitated by a licensed, credentialed mental health professional and specially trained assistants. Working with the horses is a special tool utilized by these trained therapists to meet the needs of clients desiring and/or needing an experiential treatment approach. Individual, group, and family psychotherapy is offered at Horse Time.
Q. How do I know that Horse Time meets industry standards?
A. Horse Time is fully accredited by PATH, the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International. Site visitors have ensured we are in compliance with over 100 industry standards. Our instructors are certified by PATH, and our psychotherapists are all licensed and credentialed to independently practice in the state of Georgia.
Q. What ages, types of special needs, and geographic regions does Horse Time serve?
A. Horse Time has served clients from age 4 to age 50 (and could serve younger or older) from Walton, Gwinnett, Newton, Rockdale, Dekalb, Henry, Fulton, and Cobb counties. We can serve clients from other counties as well. Special needs served have included cerebral palsy, acquired brain injuries, Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome, Down’s Syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, and a variety of other developmental, anxiety, behavioral, mood, psychotic, and substance abuse disorders. Additionally, we have worked with clients with gender identity and eating disorders. A thorough intake process ensures that Horse Time can safely and effectively work with each client.
Q. How do clients pay for Horse Time psychotherapy?
A. Horse Time therapeutic horsemanship lessons are usually paid for out of pocket, and cost about the same as a typical riding lesson. EFP fees are sometimes covered by third-party payors. Because Horse Time works hard to keep fees affordable, many clients choose to pay for EFP out of pocket. Special guidelines apply to hippotherapy reimbursement. Please see the fee schedule for all services in the downloadable application packets in the "Programs and Services" section of this website.
Q. What else does Horse Time offer?
A. Horse Time offers clinical training in EFP to students and clinicians from a variety of backgrounds. We have provided training and/or internships to nursing, therapeutic recreation, child psychiatry, counseling, and psychology students from Oxford College, Emory University, Georgia State University, State University of West Georgia, Argosy University, Clemson University and training to visitors from Australia, England, Belgium as well as a variety of states in the USA . Horse Time is also available as a volunteer and training site for Physical Therapy and Physical Therapy assistant students.
Horse Time also offers volunteer opportunities to the community and local colleges and universities. Horse Time volunteers help with fundraising, marketing, administration, and horse care in addition to assisting directly with clients.
Q. What plans does Horse Time have for the future?
A. Horse Time is working towards expanding in order to serve more clients and trainees. We will be launching a capital campaign to raise money for a covered arena and improved office and bathroom facilities. We plan to offer services more days of the week and to develop a more formal internship program with a residential option. Additionally, we look forward to participating in onsite research studies to enhance our understanding of the benefits of therapeutic horsemanship and EFP.
Q. How do I contact Horse Time to obtain clinical services, to volunteer, to offer a donation, or just get more information?
A. Horse Time can be reached at 770-784-9777. We are located at Falconwood Farm at 10385 Highway 278 in Covington, Georgia, about 30 miles outside of Atlanta. The Director’s name is Maureen Vidrine. Donations of equipment, services, and financial contributions are appreciated. Horse donations are sometimes needed and can be discussed with the director. Thank-you!