Hippotherapy is a term that refers to using the movement of a horse as a tool by physical, occupational, and speech therapists to address impairments, functional limitation and disabilities.  Each of these licensed practitioners uses the horse in a different manner to achieve specific goals.  The child participates in activities on the horse that are enjoyable and challenging in a controlled environment.  The therapist, with the help of an experienced horse handler, modifies the horse's movement and grades the sensory input to elicit specific responses in the child.  The horse is one tool where more than one discipline merges and compliments the other to allow the rider to rapidly achieve new goals.  Specific riding skills are not taught (as in therapeutic horseback riding), but rather the horse's movement is utilized to improve neurological functioning and sensory processing to increase success with daily activities.  Every rider's hippotherapy session is individualized and part of an integral treatment plan to achieve functional outcomes.

from "Introduction to Hippotherapy" by 21st Century Therapy