THERAPEUTIC HORSEBACK RIDING
Hippotherapy, literally means “treatment with the help of the horse: from the Greek word hippos meaning horse". It is often divided into Hippotherapy and therapeutic horse back riding. Specially trained physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, and psychologists use this medical treatment for clients who are challenged.
Historically, the therapeutic benefits of the horse were recognized as early as 460 BC the field of riding for individuals who are challenged evolved throughout Europe, the US and Canada. It now occurs world wide mostly under the umbrella of Riding for the Disabled.
Hippotherapy In classic Hippo therapy, the horse influences the client rather than the client controlling the horse. It does not teach specific skills but rather provides a foundation of improved neuromotor functions and sensory processing that can be generalized to a wide range of activities outside of treatment. The client is positioned on, and actively responds to the movement of the therapy horse. The therapist directs the movement of the horse analyzes the client's responses, and adjusts the treatment accordingly. The goal of classic Hippotherapy is to improve the client's posture, balance, mobility and function. This is the therapeutic/medical model which integrates principles of the medical and/or psychological development into various uses of the horse. The use of medical practitioners such as specially trained physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists and psychologists become an important part of the program.
Therapeutic Horseback Riding also known as Therapeutic Riding, Equine Assisted Therapy, Equine Facilitated Therapy and Riding for the Disabled, is the use of the horse and equine oriented activities to achieve a variety of therapeutic goals, including cognitive, physical, emotional, social, educational and behavioral goals. Where if differs from Hippotherapy is that not only does the horse influence the client but the client also influences the horse. The emphasis is on learning riding skills; these would include trail riding, driving, vaulting, and competition. An emphasis on the client’s areas of challenge and specific therapy goals are included in the riding lesson.
Many centers use an integrated approach, involving all of the above approaches, which lead to a more holistic approach to the clients benefit. The team consists of some or all of the following, riding instructors, medical professionals, volunteers, educational specialists, and behavioral specialists.
WHY THE HORSE?
Horseback riding for the challenged is recognized as one of the more progressive forms of therapy. The horse provides sensory input through multidimensional movement, which is variable, rhythmic and repetitive. This and the variability of the horse's gait enables the therapist to grade the degree of the sensory input to the client, then use this movement in combination with other clinical treatments to achieve desired results. Clients respond enthusiastically to this enjoyable learning experience in a natural setting. By adding the ability to control a horse, once the clients body and mind are organized, inspires self confidence, responsibility and teamwork. Best of all, it is a thoroughly enjoyable experience, which creates a special relationship between rider and horse and promotes personal challenge. It can have an affect on the following areas; physical, psychological, cognitive, behavioral and communication functions for clients of ail ages.
From the beginning, riders learn balance, coordination and self assurance while receiving therapeutic muscle and vestibular stimulation. The horse's multidimensional movement, gait changes in pace and the clients position on the horse can assist in physically challenged people.
Some of the unique aspects of contact with and the riding of therapeutic horses include,
IT'S GREAT FUN!!!
WHO WILL BENEFIT FROM THERAPEUTIC HORSEBACK RIDING
The horse provides its rider with a multitude of sensations and possibilities. Identifying the kinds of people or the challenges or disabilities they face that would benefit from riding a horse is complex. Four areas have been used to categorize the specific symptoms that would benefit from therapeutic horse back riding.
The Power of Therapeutic Horseback Riding
The use of a horse for therapy is very powerful medium. It is critical that therapeutic riding programs have appropriately trained personnel. If incorrectly implemented, it can be extremely dangerous. Since this medium involves the use of a large animal, safety issues are paramount. It is also necessary to have complete understanding of the physical and psychological nature of the horse involved and the physical, mental, and emotional needs and status of the special needs rider.
Listed below are a few of the "power packs" that are carried by the horse when using therapeutic horseback riding with people who are challenged.
Lisa Hare OTR, Sleepy Hollow Horse Riding, Noordhoek Beach, South Africa 6199
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