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The therapeutic value of horse riding was described by Hippocrates as” The Riding's Healing Rhythm". The mission of Step It Up Horse Riding Therapy for Kids is to do a unique form of therapy on horseback for people with specific needs. 

As explained in the article "where the problem starts" the horses movement stimulates the vestibular system of the rider resulting in effective sensory integration. Sensory integration in itself already stimulates and improves many aspects of a child's development.
Improvement of muscle tone and strength. 
General balance improves. 
Eye-muscles improve - influence on reading. 
Increased attention-span and concentration. 
Hyperactive children tend to calm down. 
Tactile system is stimulated. 
Emotional/behavioral problems improve.
Increased spatial and body awareness. 
Development of self-confidence and motivation. 
School performance can improve. 
Increased joint mobility and range of movement. 
Development of the ability to organize and perform tasks in sequence (praxis). 
Integration of the two hemispheres of the brain. 
Sensory integration takes place.
During a therapeutic horse riding lesson this vestibular stimulation is harnessed to develop various skills. This is done in one of two ways.
1. Apparatus - a ball, hula-hoop, stretch band, pipes, weights, teddies, beanbags, and many other toys are used to develop the following: Muscle tone, balance, reflexes, trunk rotation, eye muscles, bilateral motor integration, body concept, crossing of midline, spatial perception, speech, proprioception, fine motor skills, Praxis, and hemispherical integration.
2. Boxes - a box of various therapeutic activities is used to develop a specific system or skills set namely:
- Tactile System (sensory processing disorder and hypersensitivity)
-Eye muscle co-ordination (copying from black-board, reading, vision)
- M.O.R.E. (speech, sensory integration, eating difficulties)
- Fine Motor (writing, coloring, cutting etc.)
-Auditory perception (hearing, understanding and focusing in class)
- Praxis (motor planning and co-ordination)
-From constancy (reading, dyslexia,algebra, writing)
-Foreground (depth perception, copying from blackboard, spatial relations)
- Spatial (spatial and body concept, drawing, shapes in math)
-Visual Discrimination (reading, dyslexia, writing, math, discrimination)
- Memory (short term and long term memory, memory skills)
- Analysis (pattern finding, interpretation, algebra, spelling)
In order to ensure that rider's develop a well rounded skill-set, a system is worked on for 2-4 weeks depending on progress and needs of the rider and then we rotate to a different stimulation usually alternating between box and apparatus on a monthly basis.

Set- up of lesson

All therapy is done while the horse is walking to harness vestibular stimulation

1.Horses in middle of ring lined up for riders to get on. 
2.15 min upper limbs (or work on box)
3.5 min lower limbs (or work on box)
4.10 min riding

       - go and stop

       - sitting trot

       - rising trot

       - standing

       - weaving through   

          drums (once these skills are mastered we start jumping)

5. Get off, thank horse and helper


  • Daniel, who was diagnosed ASD at the age of 3, was completely non-verbal, not able to communicate his need, very active and totally unsociable. Roughly in August 2014, he started saying a few words and slowly his vocabulary started developing. Month to month we could hear improvement in his speach and were delighted at this development. But then in May 2015, he started horse riding with Lisa who patiently worked with him and within the first month, his school teacher confirmed definite and remarkable improvement in his speach, concentration levels, social interaction and much more.

     Since Daniel has started horse riding, I now recommend it above any other therapy, to anyone who has voiced any sort of concern for their child's development. 

     Thanks for your dedication, Lisa! 


  • My son, Henko was born on 21 August 2009.  He was a very calm baby with the most beautiful blue eyes, a real angel.  At first he developed normally but between the age of 1 and 2, his development slowed down.  He became more quite, struggled to sleep, had repetitive behaviour, didn’t cope with changes in routine or environment, had problems with social skills…  What was concerning me most was the delay in speech as well as being ‘’in his own world’’ sometimes.  I knew something was wrong. 

     Henko started with Speech therapy in 2012.  Within a short period, he also started with Occupational therapy.  After a few months, the Speech and OT Therapist suggested that we take Henko to Dr Lippert as the progress he made was very poor.  Dr Lippert diagnosed Henko with PDD (ASD) and ADHD.  Early 2015, I decided to take Henko for horse riding/therapy.  I felt we needed to try something new as he showed a lot of progress with the OT, but he was still not able to communicate verbally. 

     On the first day with Lisa (May 2015), I still told myself not to have high expectations regarding the results… if the horse riding made him happy, I would have been pleased.  Henko wasn’t in a good mood on arrival.  I was totally shocked after the first session.  On our way home, Henko was in ‘’a good space’’ and very happy.  He was very verbal and loud – for the first time he was mumbling a lot.  I could see (and hear in this case) the change in Henko the next day as well.  After this experience, Wednesdays became my favourite day of the week!

     Lisa and her assistants know how to work with children.  They are in control and strict when needed, but also motivate the children in a positive way when they see tenderness is needed.

     Dr Lippert told me that I’m doing enough for my child by taking him to Speech and OT therapy (and to him) but I feel that the horse riding therapy definitely stimulates Henko.  Therefore I recommend Horse riding/therapy to any child with speech problems.

     Marie du Preez

  • My son has been doing “horse riding” for around 4 months with Lisa. He is more confidant, he follows her instructions and he is doing occupational therapy without him even knowing. Lisa is very good with handling him, as he can be difficult, but he melts in her hands. I would recommend this therapy to anyone! 

    Christelle Jordaan