The impact of the “Stirrup Some Fun” therapeutic horseback riding program: A qualitative investigation


  • Steven Elliott, PhD
  • Janet A. Funderburk, PhD, LRT/CTRS
  • James M. Holland



Therapeutic horseback riding, hippotherapy, developmental riding, children with disabilities, therapeutic benefits, qualitative analysis


Therapeutic horseback riding is an intervention utilizing horses in the treatment of individuals with emotional, cognitive, and/or physical disabilities. The purpose of this study was to investigate the perceived impact of a therapeutic riding program on children with mild to moderate physical and mental disabilities. Two groups of participants including five children (with a variety of physical and cognitive disabilities) and at least one parent of each of the five children were interviewed to investigate the impact of the Stirrup Some Fun Therapeutic Riding Program (SSF TRP). Qualitative data analysis procedures were used to explore participants’ views and opinions of the SSF TRP. Several themes emerged from the interviews with the participants and their parents, including (a) enjoyment, (b) the child/animal connection, (c) social relationships with volunteers, (d) perceived physical benefits, and (e) the social and mental benefits of the program.

Author Biographies

Steven Elliott, PhD

Department of Health and Applied Human Sciences, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Wilmington, North Carolina.

Janet A. Funderburk, PhD, LRT/CTRS

Department of Recreation & Leisure Studies, East Carolina University, Carol Belk Building, Greenville, North Carolina.

James M. Holland

Graduate Student, Department of Recreation & Leisure Studies, East Carolina University, Carol Belk Building, Greenville, North Carolina.


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How to Cite

Elliott, PhD, S., Funderburk, PhD, LRT/CTRS, J. A., & Holland, J. M. (2008). The impact of the “Stirrup Some Fun” therapeutic horseback riding program: A qualitative investigation. American Journal of Recreation Therapy, 7(2), 19–28.