What was the challenge/ problem that was addressed?
The healing intuitive horse setting (HIPS Reitherpapie) is a concept in the definition of what Green Care offers (the term Green Care summarizes all interventions that use the positive and supportive effect of nature, animals and plants to help and support people). However, traditional equine therapy offerings dominate the market. Possible cost subsidies (social security, state, magistrate, etc.) are used for these established methods. A major effort is needed to publicize and credibly demonstrate the effectiveness of the often-unknown HIPS method, as well as to establish a sustainable interdisciplinary network. Branding is expensive and labor intensive.
Research-based studies of the effectiveness of equine-assisted interventions for HIPS are rare.
The aim of this project is to multiply the concept of HIPS equine therapy on farms, through education and extension, recognition by public funders and thus equal treatment with other equine therapies, as well as promoting research and further development.
Since the foundation of the farm Vierkanhof Dell’mour in Eastern Styria and the establishment of HIPS on other farms, e.g. Zacherlgut in Salzburg and Hoferstall in Vorarlberg, consulting has been an essential theme for successful implementation.
How did you solve the problem?
The HIPS equine therapy concept was first taught as a diploma course at the LFI Salzburg and subsequently as a university course at the University of Agricultural and Environmental Education (HAUP). 30 graduates offer HIPS riding therapy on farms in their own practice or in cooperation with other farms. The current university course started in autumn 2021. The business management content of the courses already includes individual consultations of the participants on the umbrella. Farms have diversified regarding riding therapy, and many are also expressing interest in additional Green Care certification of their farms.
The Association of Austrian Riding Educators and Riding Therapists (VOER) facilitates networking via social media (homepage, Facebook, Instagram). The association’s internal offer for business consultations regarding diversification of social services is currently working on further professionalization through further education (master’s degree at the University of Agricultural and Environmental Pedagogy) in this field.
In addition, the HIPS scientific studies of the first university year will be published as a commemorative edition. Contacts have been established with international journals to publish the studies.
Social Security was contacted, and HIPS recognition was submitted.
The successes recorded as well as the difficulties faced by the service providers are collected and subsequently utilized. Communication opportunities through VOER (Association of Austrian Riding Pedagogues and Riding Therapists) and planned expert conferences with the University of Agricultural and Environmental Pedagogy serve as a platform for this.
What are the success factors in solving the problem?
The success factors for solving the problem can be summarized in the following points:
- HIPS riding therapy service providers on farms have specific skills and competencies. This is ensured by theory and practice oriented academic training (60ETCS).
- The concept itself is innovative (as described above) and helps farm managers and customers find solutions to their problems and meet their needs.
- Building and maintaining relationships with customers and network partners is a key part of the HIPS concept.
- The Association of Austrian Riding Educators and Riding Therapists (VOER) and the College of Agricultural and Environmental Pedagogy (HAUP) have been and still are institutional partners providing advice and further training to farm managers.
- The exchange with science and economics provided and continues to provide a useful contribution to the professionalization of the concept of HIPS riding therapy.
- Active networking with insurance organizations and legal consultants gave and continues to give positive impulses for further development.
- Being able to refer to companies that are already successfully using this concept can be considered a success factor.
- Personal factors such as communication skills, willingness to innovate, flexibility and persistence are also definitely success factors.
Unexpected fails if any
Health professionals write referrals for HIPS. Unfortunately, health insurers often refuse to cover the costs on the grounds that HIPS is not yet a recognized service provider. The federal states are also increasingly promoting certain traditional riding therapies. Surprisingly, a concept taught through the College of Agricultural and Environmental Pedagogy, which has been successful for years, is facing difficulties in cooperation with medical service providers. It is currently undermining the economic market power, because customers always demand cost coverage or at least partial cost reimbursement. In terms of equal treatment, we were surprised to encounter these obstacles. As we will offer further educational programs with the College of Agricultural and Environmental Pedagogy in the future, strengthen our network and develop further cooperations, we hope to be able to overcome these barriers.
The HIPS equine therapy project has always faced cold winds. Renowned organizations offering equine therapy are not open to new ideas. However, we have reckoned with these obstacles. Due to the fierce resistance, we could conclude that HIPS is obviously a sensational idea. But an idea is only as good as its execution. But since crises always offer an opportunity, we looked for contacts with people who could raise our self-confidence. We have made every effort to take advantage of all the opportunities and through our cooperation support our multipliers to do better business for themselves. As we believe that knowledge is the only factor of production that does not wear out, we focus on the transfer and sharing of our field-tested knowledge through exchange and research. In short, the lesson learned is that no one succeeds alone. It requires listening and sharing. A sustainable network is essential for the implementation of ideas. Willingness to make an effort, perseverance and clarity were and are essential qualities that we nurtured and cultivated.
What role does the advisor or advisory service play within the practical case?
The project has a long lead time. Already at the beginning, a professional management consultancy was brought in. We think that although you should be an expert for your own idea, other experts with their different perspective can also make a significant contribution to its implementation. Consultations help to gain more clarity and further develop the idea and help you look at your project from many angles. We have proactively sought advice in many areas necessary for project implementation. Consultations point out possible difficulties and dangers that one had not yet considered.
Therefore, we can say from experience that consultations are an essential factor for both project implementation and project sustainability. Furthermore, consultations with the Chamber of Agriculture and the Chamber of Commerce have helped us a lot.
Can your approach be transferred and/or adapted for other innovation challenges and regions?
Estimated transferability on a scale from 1 to 5
(where 1 is easy and 5 very difficult)
For sharing the experience on the good practice, please contact Sabine and Sandra Dell’mour (email@example.com)