Equine-Assisted Services for Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A Systematic Review

Anne Helmer, Tamar Wechsler, Yafit Gilboa*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Objective: This systematic review evaluated equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAATs), formerly referred to as equine-assisted services (EAS), in children and youth (ages 6-18 years) with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health. Methods: Electronic database searches were conducted of studies from inception through December 2020. Results: A total of 12 articles were included: 8 noncontrolled prospective studies and 4 randomized-controlled trials (RCTs). Furthermore, seven of moderate methodological quality studies and five of moderate high methodological quality studies were included. Evidence was found for the effectiveness of various forms of EAS, including equine-assisted physical therapy (EAPT) and therapeutic riding (TR). Improvements in body functions and structures (n = 10) were found in the domains of mental and neuromusculoskeletal functions, as well as functions of the cardiovascular system using EAPT (n = 6). Limited evidence was found regarding the positive effect on activity and participation (n = 4) following TR interventions. Quality of life (QoL) was improved in both TR and EAPT (n = 4). Conclusion: There seems to be preliminary evidence that EAS may be beneficial in promoting the physiological functions of body systems for children with ADHD. The influence on participation and QoL still requires further evidence. More generally, further controlled studies, including bigger sample sizes, are needed to understand the specific effects of different EAS on the core symptoms and consequence of ADHD.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)477-488
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright 2021, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers 2021.


  • ADHD
  • EAS
  • ICF
  • environment
  • equine-assisted activities and therapies
  • participation
  • quality of life


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