Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the difference between Adaptive/Therapeutic Riding and Hippotherapy?

A: Adaptive riding, also known as Therapeutic riding, is a global term which embraces all horse-related activities for people with disabilities. A qualified instructor teaches adapted riding skills to riders with special needs in a small group (2-3) of similar age and cognitive abilities.  It is both educational and recreational. The goal is to teach riding skills to maximize their independence on the horse to their fullest potential.  Students will learn horsemanship skills, participate in trail rides and group activities such as competitive games.


Hippotherapy is a rehabilitation strategy that uses the characteristic movements of the horse to passively influence the motor, sensory, and postural control of the patient. The equine movement is the tool the therapist will use in order to promote the goals identified in the initial evaluation.  This medical treatment requires the ability to make an assessment and a diagnosis and then develop a treatment program with specific outcomes. It is conducted by a licensed physical therapist, occupational therapist or speech therapist with special training in Hippotherapy.

Q: Will health insurance cover lessons?

A: Most insurance carriers do not yet cover the cost of Adaptive/Therapeutic Riding lessons. Hippotherapy sessions conducted by a licensed therapist may be covered under some policies. TROT does not assume responsibility for filing any insurance claims on behalf of their riders.

Q: Do the horses undergo any special training to become part of the Therapeutic Riding program?

A: Therapeutic Riding lessons involve many non-traditional riding exercises, therefore specialized training for the horse is required. This training consists of working with the horse in specific ways to foster a highly developed sense of cooperation, patience and trust of the team members. In addition, in order to accommodate the physical differences of therapeutic riders, the horses are taught how to accept rider mounting from blocks or a ramp, and how to stand still during mounting and dismounting. They also learn how to accept riders with less balance, trunk control, and spasticity (abnormal muscle tone) than most riders.
Because lessons may involve a variety of exercises during the lessons, the horses are also taught to accept riders who remove their feet from the stirrups, or change directions to sit sideways, on their stomach or even backwards during a lesson.

Q: Does TROT teach non-therapeutic riding lessons?

A: Our mission is to serve the disabled community. However, we do offer riding lessons for traditional Western or English riders without disabilities.  We have a fabulous instructor with over 10 years experience who will provide lessons for 35.00/session. For more info. Contact Sierra Shiplet at 509-987-4831.

Q: Who can benefit from lessons?

A: Many types of physical disabilities can be treated and functionality improved using customized, carefully planned lessons. Our riders include those with cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, or head injury as well as recovering stroke patients, among other areas of improvement for these riders may include:

  • Joint range of motion
  • Muscle strength and tone
  • Coordination
  • Balance
  • Sensory integration

For people with autism, learning, behavioral or emotional disabilities, interaction with a horse can help improve:

  • Self-confidence
  • Patience
  • Emotional control and self- discipline
  • Social interaction and communication

Q: How much do lessons cost?

A: Therapeutic Riding Lessons are $195.00 per four week session and Hippotherapy is $75.00 per treatment.

Q: Are parents required to attend the lessons with their child?

A: Yes, parents are to be present during the lessons. However, unless a parent has completed the volunteer workshop, they must observe sessions from a designated area.

Q: Is specialized tack or equipment used for Therapeutic Riding lessons?

A: We use the same kind of English and Western saddles used for everyday riding. We also use one or two-handed surcingles with pad. Some special modifications are made. Saddles and other tack are chosen during the initial rider evaluation and are based on the characteristics of each rider.

Q: Does TROT accept donations?

A: As a 501(c)(3)non-profit organization, TROT relies heavily on donations made through our Corporate Sponsorship Program, as well as individual and private donations. We gratefully accept many types of donations, including goods, services and financial support.

Q: Are there any requirements to be able to ride TROT?

A: Riders must be at least 4 years old. All riders must complete a rider evaluation and the participant packet which will include a physician’s medical statement and a complete medical history. The rider evaluation will help determine the specific needs of the rider.

Q: What are lessons like?

A: Lessons are given in a class of three to four students that are compatible in age, ability, and type of disability. The length of the lesson depends on the riders’ endurance, which usually ranges between 20-45 minutes. Lessons are supervised by an instructor who is assisted by a volunteer team of A horse leader and 1-2 sidewalkers.

Q: What breed of horses does TROT use?

A: No particular breed is favored for equine therapy. We currently have several breeds of horses in the program, including Quarter Horses, Paints, and Arabian. More important than breed are temperament and disposition. Our horses must enjoy being around people, as each lesson involves not only the rider, but a volunteer support team as well (a leader and one or two sidewalkers).


In addition to possessing the right temperament, each horse must also have the desired physical conformation (height and weight) and body movements (pace, gait, rhythm). Because we rely on the horse’s movements to facilitate rider reactions, a horse with the right attributes can help stimulate the rider’s balance and righting reactions and will contribute to building strength and endurance.

Q: How is a rider matched with a horse?

A: Each rider meets with a licensed PT, OT, or SLP therapist during their new rider evaluation, prior to beginning lessons. During this evaluation, it is determined whether the rider would benefit most from therapeutic riding or hippotherapy.  At this time, it is also determined which horse has the best body type (wide/narrow) and pace combination for the rider. Once the horse is selected, a saddle is chosen to compliment horse and rider by providing the proper level of support. As a rider progresses, the horse and tack may be changed to accommodate new gains and provide new challenges.

Q: How can someone get involved and volunteer at TROT?

A: Click here and complete the volunteer packet and attend a volunteer training session as well.