About the positive effects of riding on the physical and emotional state of a person was known at the time of Hippocrates. Today, hippotherapy (the word comes from the Greek hippos – horse) – a cross between psychotherapy and physical therapy – is actively used for the rehabilitation of disabled children.
How does this work?
The impulses received by the rider during riding (about 110 per minute) imitate the movements of the person walking, and the movement of the muscles of the horse has a massaging and warming effect on certain groups of rider’s muscles, resulting in increased blood flow in the limbs. In order to maintain balance, a rider willy-nilly has to synchronize and coordinate his movements. Moving along with the horse, the rider induces to work even those muscles that are usually inactive at optimum load, the muscular corset is strengthened. Therapeutic riding also stimulates the development of fine motor skills.
Communicating with a horse is an unsurpassed tool of psychological rehabilitation. Smooth, rhythmic movement calms the nerves of horse riding, creates a positive emotional attitude, helps to overcome depression and gain faith in yourself.
Who is hippotherapy for?
This method is shown to all children and adults in need of physical and psychosocial rehabilitation. Hippotherapy is especially recommended for children with congenital cerebral disorders, disorders of the musculoskeletal system, resulting from damage to the central nervous system, cardiovascular diseases and complex developmental disorders. Adults are recommended for multiple sclerosis, prostatitis, gastrointestinal diseases.
Since in the course of riding the internal organs work in full force, and the brain is actively enriched with oxygen, hippotherapy is included in rehabilitation programs for people who have suffered strokes and heart attacks.
Hippotherapy helps to improve coordination of movements, minimize the effects of stressful situations, increases mobility and range of motion, improves muscle tone and increases resistance to stress.
In Russia today there are several rehabilitation centers that conduct classes for sick children. According to physiotherapists and child psychologists, communicating with horses literally changes their little patients before our eyes. The trust to the horse – great, kind and warm – is transferred to the surrounding people, who were previously avoided and feared. During classes, children have to constantly concentrate on their actions, remember and plan their sequence, which activates mental processes. The ability to control a powerful animal gives the child confidence in their own strength, and for shy and secluded children, contact with a horse is an opportunity to practice social interaction.