How Equine Assisted Learning helps children diagnosed with Apraxia

By Anneke Gouws

Equitots is a carefully designed, holistic Equine Assisted Learning program, which benefits children physically and it improves cognitive and sensory, emotional, social and psychological development.


When working with children who are diagnosed with Apraxia/Dyspraxia, sessions are designed around gross and fine motor skill development, sequencing and planning to lay the foundation in the brain for speech processing.

Speech is a much higher function than movement. Research has shown that riding and handling ponies does this magic.

In simple terms if you plan and execute correctly things you want the pony to do will work out and if you don’t, it doesn’t.


Equitots is facilitated in half hour sessions by one instructor for one child using one pony within a safe environment. Sessions may include mounted and/or un-mounted activities.


Much emphasis is given to making sessions a joyful and positive experience.


Equine Assisted Learning / Therapeutic Horse Riding does not substitute Speech and Occupational Therapy, rather works with it to support the developmental needs of the child.





Apraxia is an acquired inability to motor plan volitional movement for speech production in the absence of muscular weakness.

Developmental verbal dyspraxia

Developmental verbal dyspraxia is a developmental inability to motor plan volitional movement for the production of speech in the absence of muscular weakness. Research has suggested links to the FOXP2 gene.

Therapeutic Horse Riding Improves Cognition, Mood Arousal, and Ambulation in Children with Dyspraxia

Integrating Motor Control and Motor Learning Concepts With Neuropsychological Perspectives on Apraxia and Developmental Dyspraxia

This paper reviews selected pertinent literature on the learning and performance of skilled motor acts. Information on normal motor performance is integrated with that on adult apraxia and related to common problems observed in children with developmental dyspraxia. The process of motor skill acquisition is outlined, and aspects of styles of motor organization, modes of control, premovement organization, sensory organization, and analysis of the types of errors are presented. Recommendations for clinicians working with children with developmental dyspraxia are offered.