Horseback riding seems exciting and fun for all ages and especially children are surely fond of it. Horse riding is not only for fun, but it is also recommended for therapeutic purposes. Hippotherapy is a special therapy treatment, which uses horse riding or equine movements as a part of their treatment.
In this, the multidimensional movements of horse riding are used for treating movement dysfunction as a part of rehabilitation. Usually, speech therapists, physical and occupational therapists use this. It is greatly useful in treating children with developmental problems.
Hippotherapy has been recognized and nurtured since ages and it is an evolved and established form of alternative treatment in Europe, Canada and the United States.
Horse riding has multidimensional movements and this gives the rider a sensory input, which helps to stimulate the brain. The input is given through the rhythmic and repetitive movements of the horse walk. This sensory stimulation provided to the rider’s brain, arouses the brain signals and muscles and body parts receive messages regarding their movement pattern.
The horse walk, when used for therapeutic purpose is controlled by the therapist and hence the person riding on it can receive maximum benefit by letting to respond to the swaying equine movements. The movement of horse walk enables the rider to develop a sense of balance, co-ordination and improve the muscle tone as they learn to manage themselves with the horse walk.
Hippotherapy is performed in order to address a person’s functional disabilities like problems in movement, control, balance or sensory integration. And horse’s movements are used to regulate the person’s sensory processing and improve the functioning capabilities involving muscle control, balance and co-ordination. The therapists decide the treatment regimen depending on the individual problem. This therapy does not teach horse riding but uses the rhythmic horse walk to treat patients.
Hippotherapy has many benefits and can be used for;
- Providing sensory input in cases of sensory integration disorders
- Improving balance and control
- Stabilizing joints and improving fitness
- Improving posture and muscle tone
- Developing functional ability and motivation
- Overcoming fear and anxiety
- Increasing self confidence and self esteem
- Improving learning and problem solving skills
With these benefits, Hippotherapy can be used in ailments like;
- Low muscle tone and spinal deformities
- Cerebral Palsy
- Autism and sensory processing disorder
- Developmental delays, learning disabilities
- Down’s Syndrome