Local: How horses assist in human physical therapy

Advocates of equine-assisted therapy say riders benefit from the horse’s soothing rhythm, warmth and three-dimensional movement pattern that mimics the movement pattern of the human pelvis. (Photo courtesy of EATA.)
One of the drawings created by a young hippotherapy client of EATA, Christian Jeter. The horse is Ace. Additional images of a favorite horse, Seven, are listed in the LINKS section. Photos courtesy of Christian Jeter and EATA.

I learned about this local community group on a long Saturday walk with friends, just for exercise. I was walking next to Jule Magee, who happened to volunteer with Equine-Assisted Therapy of Alaska. Jule was on fire about how much this volunteer opportunity meant to her. Knowing Alaska has a thriving horse-loving community, and that Hometown Alaska had never done a show focusing on this aspect of our community, I opted to see if EATA would join me for a program. They agreed.

Today, we’ll learn why and how horses can matter in the lives of disabled youth and adults. Also called hippotherapy, the work can range from corral or trail riding to horse grooming. EATA serves children and adults, including veterans. A crew of volunteers is necessary to support the activities of the nonprofit organization.

Grooming and connecting with horses is part of hippotherapy. Photo courtesy EATA.

From their own website: EATA provides multi-faceted benefits to individuals with a wide-range of physical, neuromuscular disorders, learning and/or language disabilities, hearing, visual and cognitive impairments, behavioral and emotional disorders. Some specific conditions include: amputations, functional spinal curvature, Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida, Multiple Sclerosis, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down Syndrome, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

Join us to hear the perspective of the folks who keep this nonprofit running, to the volunteers who participate, to the clients who benefit. Your questions and comments are welcome throughout the hour.

HOST: Kathleen McCoy


  • Christy Constantino, EATA executive director
  • Janie Call, EATA program director (she manages all the horses, including driving them out of state in winter and back in for summer)
  • Shannon Parker, therapist with Alaska Pediatric Therapy who works with clients at EATA
  • Jule Magee, a community volunteer at EATA



  • Call 550-8433 (Anchorage) or 1-888-353-5752 (statewide) during the live broadcast (2:00 – 3:00pm)
  • Send e-mail to hometown@alaskapublic.org before, during or after the live broadcast (e-mails may be read on air)
  • Post your comment or question below (comments may be read on air
  • LIVE: Monday, September 23, 2019 at 2:00 p.m
  • RE-AIR: Monday, September 23, 2019 at 8:00 p.m.