What is Equine Assisted Therapy (Hippotherapy)?
Equine-Assisted Therapy (EAT), is a treatment that includes equine activities and/or an equine environment in order to promote physical, occupational, and emotional growth in persons suffering from ADHD, Anxiety, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Dementia, Depression, Developmental Delay, Genetic Syndromes (such as Down Syndrome), traumatic brain injuries, behavioral issues, abuse issues, and many other mental health problems.
It is extremely important to note that the objective of EAT is not to teach an individual horseback riding skills but to address several physiological and psychological aspects in combination with other forms of therapy such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy and psychological therapy.
Hippotherapy activities are developed on a case to case basis, with a specific goal plan and activities are reviewed from time-to-time.
Psychological benefits – EAT can help the individual build confidence, self- efficiency, communication, trust, perspective, social skills, impulse control, and learn boundaries. Since horses have similar behaviors with humans, such as social and responsive behaviors, it is easy for the patients to create a connection with the horse.
Physiological benefits – Also, the gait of a horse is known to be similar to the gait of a human, enabling riders develop muscle tone and enhanced upper body balance, enabling Proprioception – the neurological ability of the body to sense movement and position.
Equine-Assisted Therapies have been recognized in the medical and mental health field by most major countries.
Some examples of hippotherapy activities include:
- Tacking and grooming of a horse to develop sequencing, cognition and memory skills
- Walking a horse which helps develop a relationship with the animal
- Games and activities on horseback such as pegging cones on poles, throwing balls, balancing exercises, muscle coordination exercises, and also provides for great vestibular action, especially for autistic individuals
At The Paws and Hooves Project, all hippotherapy sessions are carried out one-on-one through certified Equine Assisted Therapists in order to ensure physical safety of the individuals undergoing therapy. We have specially designed saddles with seat belts for individuals who lack upper body balance and cannot sit independently.