Journal of Human Sport and Exercise

Evaluation of an equine therapy program in students with Autism spectrum disorder

Iago Portela-Pino, Sonia Bouzo-Gónzalez, Margarita Pino-Juste



Equine Assisted Therapy (EAT) has the main objective of using horseback riding as a tool in a therapeutic process to improve, among other facets, motor skills and postural control and even psychological well-being. The purpose of this research was to determine if equinetherapy (horseback riding with a therapeutic aim) favours the motor, communication and social development in subjects with ASD. A case study was performed with 5 subjects between 8 and 31 years. The program was carried out over 32 sessions of 60 minutes each, a day a week. The recording techniques were a questionnaire, observation and a field diary. Among the most salient results, we point out improvements in balance, posture, fine and gross motricity, and an optimal muscle relaxation that gradually leads to a removal of stereotypies. Regarding the aspect of social communication, a major improvement in non-verbal communication, and new bonding of friendship, love and respect for animals. This study is a contribution to the scientific evaluation of equine therapy as an effective treatment in persons with ASD.


Therapeutic horseback riding; Autism; Psychomotricity; Social skills; Qualitative study


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