Hippotherapy – Occupational Therapy

Let the horse be your partner in health and healing!

Nature & Nurture has partnered with Seahorse Run to provide occupational therapy services in Suffolk, Virginia with use of horse’s movement as treatment tool. Seahorse Run is conveniently located off of Whaleyville Blvd with easy access to Route 58 and Downtown Suffolk.

Our program offers occupational therapy services with use of the horse’s movement as part of a treatment plan. These services are provided by Chelsea Ellison MS, OTR/L who is American Hippotherapy Association Board Certified and a PATH Registered Therapist.

Services are offered for children and adults with developmental disabilities, physical disabilities, chronic illnesses, neurological conditions, or injuries. 

What is Hippotherapy?

Horses healing humans

The American Hippotherapy Association definition: ‘‘The term hippotherapy refers to how occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech-language pathology professionals use evidence-based practice and clinical reasoning in the purposeful manipulation of equine movement as a therapy tool to engage sensory, neuromotor and cognitive systems to promote functional outcomes.’’

In other words, the therapist manipulates the horse’s movement to promote active responses in the patient that are intended to affect function! The use of a horse’s movement is integrated into a full plan of care for the patient to address personal goals of the patient. Sessions are individual.

Why the horse?

The horse has a dynamic, 3-dimensional gait that mimics the gait of a person at a walk.

No treatment tool in a traditional clinic can impact ALL sensorimotor systems at once like the horse!

Relationships developed with the horse can improve motivation and  promote goal achievement in shorter time frames.

Who Benefits?

Children and adults whose goals include improving:

  • Arousal and attention
  • Sensory processing
  • Balance, coordination, strength, range of motion
  • Muscle tone
  • Gross and fine motor coordination
  • Endurance
  • Mobility of pelvis, spine, and hip joints
  • Posture
  • Motor planning
  • Respiratory function
  • Self Confidence
  • …and many more!

Horses used in the program are evaluated for gentle nature and health.  A variety of sizes and breeds are available to suit individual needs.  The horse’s welfare is of utmost importance to the program.

Sessions are individual and are up to 60 minutes with treatment activities completed on and off the horse. Nature-Based Occupational Therapy is included. Goals are unique and tailored to patient and family goals directed toward activities of daily living. Skills addressed include but are not limited to: self-help skills; core, upper body, and hand strengthening and range of motion; sensory integration, etc. Sessions include a therapist, volunteer side-walkers for safety, and a horse leader. Session scheduling is subject to volunteer availability.

Sessions are listed at self-pay rates. A superbill may be provided upon request to submit to your insurance for an attempt at reimbursement.


Therapist reserves the right to refuse follow-up services due to contraindications noted at initial evaluation.

Comprehensive Occupational Therapy Evaluation

  • Medical history review
  • Skill observation and intervention
  • Goal development
  • Introduction to horses and environment


Follow-Up Single Session

  • 30 minutes to 45 minutes of various positions and movement on horse based on individual tolerance and goals
  • Skilled horse leader and side-walker present with therapist and client to assist in safety
  • Nature-based occupational therapy activities included on and off the horse


Packages of multiple sessions offered at 10% discount paid up front

Contact us to discuss the right package for you!


Schedule a Consultation