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J Altern Complement Med. 2011 Oct;17(10):901-8. doi: 10.1089/acm.2010.0547.

The effect of therapeutic horseback riding on 5 children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a pilot study.

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Hunt Research Center, Faculty of Medicine, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Levanger, Norway.



The aim of this pilot study was to investigate the effects of therapeutic horseback riding on behavior, health-related quality of life, and motor performance in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).


The study employed a time series quasi-experimental design with two pretests and two post-tests conducted 8 weeks apart.


The study was conducted at a riding school in Levanger, Norway.


The subjects comprised a convenience sample of 5 children aged 10-11 years with ADHD.


Subjects received a 1-hour therapeutic horseback riding twice a week for 8 weeks as intervention.


Behavior and health-related quality of life was assessed using Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) and The KINDL(R)-Health-Related Quality of Life Questionnaire, respectively. The Modified Function-Neurological Assessment and the Movement Assessment Battery for Children assessed the subject's motor performance.


The pre- and post-tests scores were compared with the Wilcoxon paired sample tests and the Friedman test for nonparametric multiple test samples. Positive differences (p≤0.05) between the test results at pretest 2 and post-test 1 were noted for the behavior SDQ subscore "Total difficulties" reported by children (12.8±5.8), by parents (16.6±8.2), and by teachers (15.0±5.2). A significant difference (p<0.05) for the "Total difficulties" in SDQ was found between all 4 tests. In relation to quality of life, significant differences in the "Total score" (67.2±14.7) were reported by the children themselves. The motor performance improved after the intervention. The effect sizes and power were established.


The results of the present study indicate that therapeutic horseback riding had a positive effect on 5 children with ADHD in several domains of the social role behavior, quality of life, and motor performance. This pilot study constitutes a good scientific prospect for future studies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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