Stirrups and Smiles is a 501(c)3 certified, not-for-profit organization formed to increase the quality of life of children through equine-assisted therapy. We are located in Searcy, AR and serve White County and surrounding areas.
Hippotherapy is a physical, occupational and speech-language therapy treatment strategy that utilizes equine movement as part of an integrated intervention program to achieve functional outcomes.
The physical therapist can overlay a variety of motor tasks on the horse's movement to address the motor needs of each patient and to promote functional outcomes in skill areas related to gross motor ability such as sitting, standing and walking.
The occupational therapist is able to combine the effects of the equine movement with other standard intervention strategies for working on fine motor control, sensory integration, feeding skills, attentional skills and functional daily living skills in a progressively challenging manner.
The speech-language pathologist is able to use equine movement to facilitate the physiologic systems that support speech and language. When combined with other standard speech-language intervention strategies, the speech-language pathologist is able generate effective remediation of communication disorders and promote functional communication outcomes.
Specially trained therapy professionals evaluate each potential patient on an individual basis to determine the appropriateness of including hippotherapy as a treatment strategy.
The therapy professional works closely with the horse professional to manipulate various aspects of the horse's movement, position, management style, equipment and types of activities to generate effective remediation protocols and to promote functional outcomes.
Equine movement provides multidimensional movement, which is variable, rhythmic and repetitive. The horse provides a dynamic base of support, making it an excellent tool for increasing trunk strength and control, balance, building overall postural strength and endurance, addressing weight bearing and motor planning. Equine movement offers well-modulated sensory input to vestibular, proprioceptive, tactile and visual channels. During gait transitions, the patient must perform subtle adjustments in the trunk to maintain a stable position. When a patient is sitting forward astride the horse, the horse's walking gait imparts movement responses remarkably similar to normal human gait. The effects of equine movement on postural control, sensory systems and motor planning can be used to facilitate coordination and timing, grading of responses, respiratory control, sensory integration skills and attentional skills. Equine movement can be used to facilitate the neurophysiologic systems that support all of our functional daily living skills.
There is an immense amount of work “behind the scenes” for a successful program. The upkeep of the horses care and health is costly and time consuming. Volunteers and donations are essential to meet these needs. We simply could not function without them. There are many different areas in which someone can volunteer with us as well as donate to this program. To be involved you can access our website at www.stirrupsandsmiles.org or contact us through our Facebook page