Hippotherapy may sound like a strange word to some people. The word is derived from other cultures and languages as hippo is the Greek word for a horse. Here, patients who are struggling with disabilities spend some time interacting and riding horses. Proponents of hippotherapy claim it could have a range of emotional and physical benefits on the people who undergo it.
It’s very important to understand that horses can also be integrated into various types of psychological therapy. But not all of it is hippotherapy. The primary focus of hippotherapy is to help people who have physical disabilities. A lot of people who suffer from cerebral palsy benefit from this.
Here’s how it can help:
People who have cerebral palsy tend to experience difficulties with motor skills. You may find it strange that horse riding can help address these issues, but it can.
A lot of the benefits that you get from hippotherapy are because of the horse’s gait being like that of humans. Basically, riding horses involves moving in the same way as if you’re walking. For people who have trouble walking, these movements help them practice the motions when exercising the muscles used for walking.
This is the main concept and objective of this type of therapy. But, there are a lot of other advantages which patients may enjoy too like:
- Fine motor skills, through the completion of tasks like holding the reins.
- Sensory processing.
- Verbal articulation and expression from communicating with the instructor and animal.
Some patients, mostly children, even develop behavioral and emotional benefits. For example, getting a chance to ride horses can present fun activities for people who’re usually excluded when the time comes for physical play. Forming relationships with gentle animals can also help improve their happiness levels and mental functioning.
Learning how to ride horses can help people learn discipline and patience. Even though instructors are working closely with them to ensure safety, the skills that are acquired can foster increased self-esteem and independence.