What is Speech Therapy?

 Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) specialize in the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of communication disorders (speech and language disorders), cognitive-communication disorders, voice disorders, and swallowing disorders.  SLPs also play an important role in the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder.  SLPs also help people who stutter to speak more fluently.   Articulation and fluency are only a few areas of the work of an SLP, and in fact, they are concerned with a broad scope of speech, language, swallowing, cognitive, and voice issues involved in communication. 

Who are the Clients of Speech Language Pathologists?

Children and Adults alike can benefit from speech and language therapy. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), “Speech-language pathologists, or SLPs, work with people who have problems with speech, language, thinking, and swallowing.”

 Children with mild, moderate or severe:

  • Genetic disorders that adversely affect speech, language and or cognitive development including cleft palate, Down syndrome,
  • Autism Spectrum disorders
  • Developmental delay
  • Feeding and swallowing disorders; including oral motor deficits and dysphagia
  • Language or language delay
  • Voice disorders
  • Specific language impairment
  • Articulation disorders or phonology impairment
  • Pediatric traumatic brain injury or stroke
  • Verbal apraxia
  • Fluency disorders (stuttering)

 Adults with mild, moderate, or severe language disorders as a result of:

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Stroke
  • Voice disorders
  • Cognitive communication impairments
  • Post concussive syndrome
  • Aphasia
  • Apraxia of speech
  • Motor speech disorders (dysarthria)
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Swallowing disorders (dysphagia)
  • Dementia
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Mental health issues
  • Progressive neurological conditions such as cancer of the neck, head, and throat

 What is Unique about Speech Therapy at Kids & Horses?

Kids & Horses offers a unique variation to speech and language therapy by incorporating hippotherapy. According to the American Hippotherapy Association, Hippotherapy (hippo is Greek for horse) involves SLPs, along with OTs and Pts using evidence-based practice and clinical reasoning in the purposeful manipulating of the movement of a horse to engage a patient’s sensory, neuro-motor, and cognitive systems to achieve functional outcomes. It is a treatment strategy. While riding on a horse may not appear to have anything to do with speech therapy, the spectrum of benefits provided by hippotherapy is wide-ranging.

The multidimensional movement provided by a horse is variable, rhythmic, and repetitive, which produces a calming effect on riders. This in turn facilitates neurophysiologic systems that support all of our functional daily living skills.  The therapist or handler is actively moving the horse to facilitate different neurological reactions in a person, including body control, posture and attention, which leads to speech and swallowing because it is all the same nervous system.  Speech is motor based, so by using the horse, you are targeting every aspect of the neurological system with every step of the horse. 

Typically, therapy sessions are one-hour.  Thirty minutes of each therapy session is spent utilizing hippotherapy as a treatment strategy. The other half of the session occurs in the clinic, where the patient participates in the usual table-top speech, language, or cognitive therapy activities. During this time, the therapist and families may also collaborate to problem-solve challenges and develop strategies for home and school. All 60 minutes of therapy can be offered in the clinic if hippotherapy is determined to be unsafe for an individual (i.e. uncontrolled seizures or atlantoaxial instability present in Down Syndrome), the client is under the age of 2, if the individual does not wish to ride, when the horses have scheduled vacations and/or on inclimate weather days.  On occasion therapy sessions may only comprise 30 minutes.  In this case, hippotherapy and clinic sessions will typically alternate.

What is the frequency?

Speech therapy sessions are most commonly 60 minutes, once per week. Typically, the first 30 minutes are dedicated to traditional treatment techniques in the clinic on-site and 30 minutes of goal-directed activities on horseback.

What is the Cost?

We are in-network with Medicaid, Hometown Health, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Prominence. Private in-network insurance plans typically require co-pays and cover the rest after deductibles have been met. Out-of-network insurance plans may be able to be billed out-of-network. Some insurance plans do not cover therapy services or have limitations. In this case, you may talk to the therapist about what would be the best payment option for you. 

How do I start?

If you or a loved one is interested in speech therapy at Kids & Horses, please complete our Prospective Client Form. You may also email info@kidsandhorses.org or call 775-267-1775.


Teru Langsdale, MS, CCC-SLP, CBIS

Teru grew up in Southern California but has called Northern Nevada her home for over 30 years. Teru attended University of Nevada, Reno earning both her Bachelor and Master’s degrees in Speech-Language Pathology. She is very passionate about helping people learn and communicate more effectively, and is specially certified as a brain injury specialist. Teru’s other passion involves all things outdoors, and she is an
avid runner, hiker, and enjoys riding her Arabian horses’ long distances competing in endurance riding. Having the opportunity to work at Kids and Horses is a dream come true. Blending the therapeutic benefit of horses into a therapy practice is powerful and being able to do it at such a magical place as Kids & Horses is icing on the cake.


According to the American Hippotherapy Association (AHA), “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 to engage sensory, neuromotor, and cognitive systems to achieve functional outcomes.  In conjunction with the affordances of the equine environment and other treatment strategies, hippotherapy is part of a patient’s integrated plan of care.” The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) and American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) accept and endorse hippotherapy as a treatment strategy. A list of research studies on the effectiveness of hippotherapy as a treatment tool for physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech-language pathology can be found here.