Research News

UW-Madison’s Fields co-authors hippotherapy report published by the journal Disability and Rehabilitation

October 01, 2019

Alongside lead author Wendy Wood of Colorado State University, UW-Madison’s Beth Fields recently co-authored a report that was featured in the journal Disability and Rehabilitation.

Fields is an assistant professor with the School of Education’s Department of Kinesiology.

Beth Fields
The purpose of their study was to map studies of hippotherapy over 30 years as a guide to future research in practice. To do so, Fields and Wood systematically mapped reviews of hippotherapy research, searching nine databases to produce 3,528 unique records.

Hippotherapy is the use of horseback riding as a therapeutic or rehabilitative treatment, especially as a means of improving coordination, balance, and strength.

Fields and Wood found that children with cerebral palsy and physical therapists were most prevalent as participants and providers, respectively. Additionally, they reported that equine movement was hippotherapy’s core component and mechanism. 

From their research, the co-authors concluded that continuing research of complex interventions that integrated hippotherapy was warranted. They recommend that proponents and providers of hippotherapy need to better define and represent the practice, explicate their disciplinary perspectives, and partner to develop an enablement theory of hippotherapy that links improved body functions with improved participation in everyday life and quality of life.

Read the complete report, titled "Hippotherapy: a systematic mapping review of peer-reviewed research, 1980 to 2018," here.