Individuals suffering from mental or emotional issues may benefit from horse therapy, often known as equine-assisted therapy. Many people used to think of it as a dubious kind of alternative medicine.
The medical business has advanced significantly in recent years. This has contributed to the current scientific community’s general acceptance of horse therapy’s health benefits. Horse therapy and other animal-assisted therapies are supported by many specialists in many disciplines of study and modern medicine. There are many applications, just as there are numerous interactions and activities involving therapeutic horses.
Hippotherapy, also known as horse-guided therapy, is a therapeutic modality that employs the movement of horses to assist persons with cognitive, motor, or sensory impairments recover and grow. The horse’s actions include a wide range of rhythm, repetition, and adaptation.
Riding may improve balance, postural strength, and endurance since the rider is supported by a dynamic or moving surface. Furthermore, the horse’s motions provide inputs that are well-tuned for the vestibular, proprioceptive, tactile, and visual systems.
The horse’s gait enhances postural stability, sensory activation, and movement planning and execution. Coordination, timing, motor response management, respiration control regulation, sensory integrity, and attention-demanding abilities may all be learned in this way. Some patient groups may benefit from using the horse’s movements to activate the neurophysiological systems that support a patient’s capacity to do daily activities. Horses may be used in therapy in the following situations.
A Brief Overview of Equine-Assisted Therapy
In recent years, the number of doctors who provide equine-assisted therapy to their patients has expanded dramatically. Furthermore, there is no proof that equine-assisted therapy works. True, ancient cultures were aware of and made significant use of the benefits of horse therapy.
It is possible to trace medical prescriptions for this kind of treatment all the way back to ancient Greece. At the time, it was common practice to use horses for self-defense and as a kind of rehabilitation for a range of medical illnesses, including mental health issues.
Equine-assisted therapy became popular among medical researchers in the 17th century. Since then, it has been widely accepted by the medical community for its efficacy in treating gout and relieving the anguish that the ailment may bring.
The Health Advantages of Equine Therapy
Equine therapy is a kind of complementary medicine that focuses on the emotional and physical benefits of horse connection.
For starters, horseback riding in three dimensions is a wonderful way to get your muscles and joints moving. This kind of controlled stimulus is also very good for improving motor skills. It also promotes healing from stressful incidents such as car accidents.
Horses, on the other hand, are attentive, kind, and in tune with their surroundings. More opportunities to connect with horses may help both children and adults due to the positive effects on their social skills, self-regulation, and overall development. As a result, many people with mental or neurological illnesses choose horse therapy as a therapeutic option.
This is especially useful for amputees who have lost their lower limbs since it allows them to maintain their sense of trunk balance.
Disease caused by severe inattention and hyperactivity In children with ADD/ADHD and hyperactivity condition, the advantages include increased self-esteem and teamwork. It’s a fantastic tool for keeping the horse and trainer in the spotlight.
Horseback riding, driving, hippotherapy, and horse-assisted psychotherapy were all beneficial to those with autism spectrum disorder. Horse treatment, according to Bass, Duchowny, and Llabre, benefits autistic youngsters by increasing their SSR and SP scores and enhancing their sensory integrity (2008).
Riding is a good activity for children with Cerebral Palsy since it helps them with their posture, coordination, balance, and motor control. Riding is not only a fun activity for young children, but it also has considerable positive effects on the development of these abilities.
Patients recovering from a stroke or other cerebrovascular event may benefit emotionally and physically from horse-guided therapy. The symptoms of this illness include varying degrees of weakness, spasticity, imbalance, and communication problems.
Deafness may help a person become more self-sufficient and confident.
Individuals with developmental and cognitive impairments may benefit from this exercise by increasing their motor skills and boosting their capacity to interact with others in a happy and engaging way.
Individuals with Down syndrome may benefit from equine therapy and riding lessons. Champagne and Douglas’ research found that two children with Down syndrome who participated in an 11-week hippotherapy program improved their gross motor skills, such as walking, running, and leaping, as well as their postural control (2010). These results were reported in the journal Pediatrics.
Therapeutic riding might be considered the foundation of all therapeutic activities with horses. Therapeutic riding is riding a horse and completing regulated physical activities. As a result, this kind of horse therapy is appropriate for many forms of psychoeducational and physiotherapeutic rehabilitation.
Hippotherapy is a comprehensive neurophysiological treatment that takes place on the back of a horse. Medically oriented activities are carried out under the supervision of physiotherapists specialized in horse therapy.
This style of treatment is founded on three principles:
First, heat is transmitted to the patient through the horse’s own body heat.
Second, these therapeutic animals’ rhythmic impulses
Finally, horses’ three-dimensional motions
Horseback riding for psychoeducation is a combination of pedagogical and psychological treatments. It is particularly beneficial when it comes to assisting youngsters who have difficulty learning or focusing.
However, psychoeducational riding is also used to help persons with impairments enhance their independence and flexibility.
Social equine therapy
The essential activities of social horse therapy and psychoeducational horseback riding are the same. It does, however, emphasize the therapeutic bond that develops between horses and humans.
This sort of horse therapy is often prescribed by doctors to enhance the social interaction and communication skills of people with autism. Furthermore, social horse therapy may help people heal from psychological trauma and behavioral issues.
Horseback riding as a sport for people with physical limitations is the emphasis of this sort of equestrian therapy.
Horse Occupational Therapy
Horses are used in this method to equestrian therapy to increase the employability of persons with impairments.
Equine therapy in all of its forms should only be performed by certified specialists. Each patient should be given individual attention and care. This will decide the horse to be used, the workouts to be scheduled, and the frequency of the sessions.
What Disorders Can Be Treated with Hippotherapy?
- Muscle tone disorders
- Balance disorders
- Coordination disorders
- Communication disorders
- Sensory motor dysfunction
- Postural asymmetry
- Poor postural control
- Movement disorders
Hippotherapy is a kind of treatment in which the patient works on muscular strength while riding a horse. Riding is an excellent method to train almost all of the body’s main muscle groups. When the rider shifts positions with the horse, both healthy and damaged muscles activate automatically in an effort to maintain balance.
As a consequence, the incident will occur. A horse may convey around 100 vibratory impulses per minute to a human. As a consequence, practically all of the individual’s muscle groups were activated reflexively, fine motor abilities were nourished and developed, and complex, precise, and clear movements were formed.
The horse’s multidimensionally oscillating gait is similar to human pelvic movements throughout the gait cycle, with double the effect on the pelvic girdle. As a result, it improves one’s ability to perceive minute changes in their environment.