Campers playing a game of Magic on a Rustic Overnight Retreat
Summer Camp

New Adventures at Camp Sequoia: Innovative Hippotherapy

Camp Sequoia

Reema Dixon~Associate Director

New Additions to Our Program

Camp Sequoia has many new and exciting additions to our program this summer, like our Dungeons and Dragons role-playing major to help simulate social interactions in a controlled and fun environment, or drones to supplement our STEM program. Another one of these innovations will be our Equine Simulator Therapy option, which will utilize Gait’s Rest machine that simulates a walking horse’s gait. Research indicates that hippotherapy can help individuals with ADHD, and we are excited to incorporate it into our program as an option for our campers. We are proud of this innovative partnership and are proud to be the FIRST program of our kind to bring the benefits of hippotherapy to Camp Sequoia in 2020.

What is Hippotherapy?

Hippotherapy is the use of a horse’s gait to engage sensory, cognitive, and neuromotor systems to effectively integrate therapeutic practices to encourage outcomes. Specifically, in ADHD and ASD individuals, research shows that the motion of riding reduces fidgeting, stress, and anxiety and increases attention and focus. Just as many schools have followed research with alternative seating options for kids, this type of offering takes it to the next level of potential positive outcomes. The REST® seat simulates the motion of a horse, which closely mirrors the rhythms of the gait one would experience (and the calming benefits) of actual horseback riding. Equine therapy techniques like these can assist children with combining and learning novel skills in a new way. Now, the technology exists to provide the best of both Equine and Hippotherapy into our environment with a myriad of benefits.

Hippotherapy is the use of a horse’s gait to engage sensory, cognitive, and neuromotor systems to effectively integrate therapeutic practices to encourage outcomes.Brian Lux

Whether you ride English or Western, there is something relaxing about the motion of a moving horse. Whether riding down a trail or jumping in a ring, having the ability to distill the best of these experiences for our campers is an exciting opportunity. I remember the first horse that I rode. No, it wasn’t across a desert, and yes, it did have a name. Boots and I did about 40 miles in the mountain trails of the Appalachian Mountains when I was a young man and that experience had a lasting impact. I still enjoy a trail ride when time allows and finding a tool that can simulate that experience with our campers is an exciting opportunity.

There are several other benefits to this program at Camp Sequoia as well. First, much like having both an 800-acre lake and an indoor pool provides the flexibility for aquatic options in a wide range of weather, having hippotherapy indoors eliminates any need to cancel or reschedule due to weather concerns. It also eliminates any need to muck out stalls, feed, water or scrape poop off of shoes or boots. It allows our community many of the benefits of this experience with few of the downsides.

Integration into the Fabric of Camp Sequoia

At camp, we tailor the experience to help every individual camper achieve their social goals and become the best version of themselves. Whether they feel comfortable integrating their social skills development lessons with our emotional support dog, Xena, or utilizing our Rustic Retreat outdoor program to incorporate nature therapy, we strive to find the best fit for every camper to help them understand and integrate social and emotional framework into their daily lives to help them connect with their peers and form life-long friendships. Through the incorporation of Hippotherapy, we anticipate that we will be able to encourage our campers to make fresh connections that they will be able to apply during their school year to find socio-emotional success.