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  • Accessing Services that Incorporate Interactions with Horses

    Funding is accessible through the government and insurance companies for services that are regulated. Services that include horses that are regulated are ones that require a State License for the professional and/or the facility. Such services are Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech and Language Pathology, Psychotherapy (LCPC, LCSW, LMFT), Substance Abuse Counseling, In-patient Treatment, etc. These services that are reimbursed are those that have rules and regulations that the federal legislature adopts to protect the rights of consumers, manage the funding for those services and promote extensive research and innovation. Once the federal government adopts rules to fund a regulated health service, local states must undergo a similar legislative process in order to make the services available to the public. Local governments expand upon the federal actions with legislation and regulation that meet the unique needs of the people of their State. The states then reimburse providers of these services who apply to provide them and adhere to the federal and state rules and regulations.

    Incorporating horses in a regulated service does not change either the accessibility or amount of the already established funding.  The inclusion of a horse does not change anything about the rules and regulations or funding for a regulated service. Adding a horse does not require additional approval for payment or the use of a different code. At the same time, there is no additional funding to cover the added expense of the horse or horse handler. Therefore, whatever amount is reimbursed for the service that is provided in an office, in the home or in the community is the same as for the service that is provided with the inclusion of horses.

    Funding for Non-Regulated Services that Incorporate Horses

    Services that are not regulated are those provided by individuals or organizations that are not licensed. These include services such as therapeutic riding lessons that are adapted to accommodate a person with a disability (sometimes known as therapeutic/adaptive riding), life coaching sessions, support groups, leaderships workshops, experiential learning lessons, etc. These services might be provided by a riding instructor, a life coach, mentor, or other type of entrepreneur.  These services are sometimes known as adaptive/therapeutic riding or horsemanship and equine-assisted activities or equine-assisted learning. These are not funded because there is no federal or state regulation governing these activities.

    Just because these services are not regulated, does not preclude their potential to be very valuable and helpful to their consumers. However, it is critical the consumer is aware that these services have not undergone a process of objective scrutiny to ensure the protection of the public. If a consumer is at all concerned about the safe and ethical implementation of these services, they should certainly voice their concern and cease participation immediately.

    Consumers can be empowered to advocate for their safety and to ensure the services are beneficial rather than harmful. The following are questions to ask of a provider of a non-regulated service:

    What is your education and experience relevant to the service you are providing?

    Are you licensed by a state to provide this service?

    Have you had any complaints file against you?

    Are you certified? If so, is your certification from an independent organization?

    Do you have references?

    Do you belong to any professional associations?

    What is your Code of Ethics?

    Being an empowered consumer of services that incorporate horses will allow you to access regulated services that are funded and to protect your rights if you chose to utilize services that are not regulated.

    To learn more about incorporating horses in regulated health services, click here to access the online course.