The purpose of this integrative review of the literature is to examine the effectiveness of equine assisted therapy with individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). An extensive review of the literature was conducted regarding children diagnosed with ASD who received equine therapy, equine psychotherapy, therapeutic horseback riding, or horse therapy. Inclusion criteria include articles written in the English language, articles that were peer-reviewed, and had a publication date from 2006 to present. Fourteen articles were analyzed regarding children with ASD who participated in different types of equine therapy. The majority of the studies found individuals with ASD who participated in equine therapy had improvements in behavior, social interactions, and communication with decreased stereotypical ASD behaviors. Only one article found no changes in behavior. Most of the articles had very small sample sizes that limited the generalizability of the findings. There were many different ways that the research was conducted and therefore the screening measures were completely different for all studies. Many studies did not take gender of participants into account, whether the participants were verbal or nonverbal, and other treatments the participants were receiving. Although the literature analyzed had different methodologies, the overall research suggests equine assisted therapy can be a beneficial therapy for individuals with ASD and therefore could be considered a viable treatment option. The outcomes of this integrative review supports the need for larger, randomized, controlled trials with larger samples to effectively evaluate the effects of equine therapy.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair

Bushy, Angeline


Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.)


College of Nursing




Orlando (Main) Campus



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date


Restricted to the UCF community until 2-1-2019; it will then be open access.