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Accredited Practitioner Register Definitions of Practice

The services provided under the umbrella of Equine Facilitated Interactions are diverse and there are a variety of titles used by practitioners in describing their service. This page provides an outline of some of the principal titles engaged that are recognised by the Register.

From the Register’s perspective activities will always be provided by appropriately qualified, trained professionals who incorporate the equines into their practice, whether providing a specific defined therapy, a general therapeutic or focused learning experience, or foundation skills that enhance individual well-being.

Appropriate proof of all qualifications supporting practice are sought in the application for registration.


Hippotherapy is a medical treatment that utilizes evidence-based practice and clinical reasoning to use purposeful movements of the horse to influence and engage sensory, neuromotor and cognitive systems to promote functional outcomes in individuals with mental and physical disabilities. As a practice it is largely based on ridden work.

In hippotherapy the horse becomes the medium of treatment whereby the gentle movement of the horse is used to achieve treatment goals designed to the needs of each patient. The walking movement of the horse reflects the normal movement of the human pelvis in walk and this movement can positively improve a patients balance and posture, as well as providing constant sensory and motor stimulation.

Hippotherapy can be engaged as part of integrative treatment plans by qualified Allied Health Professionals, which can include physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech language pathologists.

Therapeutic Riding

Therapeutic Riding focusses on teaching horsemanship and riding skills to children or adults with special needs. It is educational and recreational as well as therapeutic. It can also incorporate progression towards competitive or independent riding goals. In the United Kingdom it is generally covered under the umbrella of RDA (Riding for the Disabled).

Equine Facilitated Occupational Therapy

Equine Facilitated OT is the promotion of health and wellbeing facilitated by therapeutic partnership between the therapist, the equine, and the equine environment. With additional training an OT can use a range of identified domains within this field for therapeutic and learning purposes, these include hippotherapy, riding for therapy, riding for learning, equestrian sports, responsive groundwork and the equine environment.

Equine Therapy or, Equine Assisted and/or Facilitated Therapy

Practitioners provide therapeutic services such as counselling for the purpose of treating mental health disorders and improving a person’s mental health.

The practice incorporates interaction with horses into the mental health services that they provide. These practices, and the client or service user’s experience during them, are used to enrich or enlighten existing clinical approaches and help to frame meaningful therapeutic outcomes for them.

The practice is generally carried out on a one-to-one basis as ground-based reflective exercises or activities alongside the horses.

Equine Assisted and/or Facilitated Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is a talk-based therapy which helps people with a broad variety of mental illnesses and emotional difficulties. Through the engagement of qualified and registered psychotherapists clients and service users can get relief from troubling symptoms so a person can function better and can increase well-being and healing.

As with Equine Therapy this practice incorporates the experiential interaction of client/service-users into the practitioner’s clinical practice supporting individual trauma or psychological challenges. These interactions provide a powerful supportive space where clients can reflect on individual experiences and relationships and frame positive solutions for both coping and developing.

The practice is generally carried out on a one-to-one basis as ground-based reflective exercises or activities alongside the horses.

Equine Assisted and/or Facilitated Learning

Equine Assisted and/or Facilitated Learning (or Personal Development) provides individual learning experiences that focus on developing or nurturing personal resources such as self-esteem and confidence, resilience, emotional and social intelligence.

The learning process alongside the horses provides a framework whereby transferable learning can occur. This is an experiential process whereby individual needs and requirements in life can be explored in interaction with the horses. This is engaged to support not just personal learning but also professional, sometimes team-based, learning.

From the Register’s perspective the principal emphasis is on where that learning and development is focused on the delivery of positive mental-health well-being related skills and resources.

The practice is generally carried out as ground-based reflective exercises or activities alongside the horses. It can be delivered both as one-to-one or group-based interactions.

To find out more about what you might experience in such a session please read the short guide to Equine Facilitated Interaction sessions.