Horses have served people for millennia. In ancient Greece, these animals were considered a symbol of honor, power, and ascending to a higher level of development. For generations we have used them both for agricultural work, as a weapon of war, as a means of transport, and as a vaulting for entertainment purposes. No wonder that at some point we came to the conclusion that they can also be used in medicine.
Horse riding is currently a very popular sport and hobby . More and more people decide to learn how to ride, volunteer at studs or other forms of contact with these undoubtedly important animals in the history of mankind. Horses have a dual nature, they are at the same time the embodiment of wildness for people, and their dressage is a symbol of power. On the other hand, they are often seen as gentle giants, accompanying people in many spheres of life.
Most people today hardly ever see horses at all. Very few have ever ridden a horse, and even fewer have ridden them. However, horse riding is not complicated or dangerous at all, and horseback riding alone can be healthy for both human physiology and psyche. From the combination of the two, the simple thought can be drawn that horse riding can be an ideal activity for very young people with health problems.
Hippotherapy, which is literally Greek for horseback therapy, is a method of hippotherapist-assisted work with a person with physical and mental disabilities, practiced since the middle of the last century. The successes of hippotherapy are present in many diseases, starting from correcting the body posture, through motivating the psyche, and ending with developing independence. There are many more reasons, there is hardly any sphere of life in which horse riding cannot help.
Many people pay particular attention to some successes of hippotherapy in working with children on the autism spectrum. The team, about which we still know little, is even difficult to define, and yet we can boast of some success in this regard.
So what are the methods of hippotherapy and who is it intended for?
First of all, it should be noted that there are no specific requirements to start hippotherapy. Horse riding under the watchful eye of both a hippotherapist and simply a horse’s guardian is not harmful to the body. Both very old and very young people can ride horses.
In the case of people with mobility problems, horse movement therapy is especially interesting. It is literally giving in to the horse’s movements, letting him lead us in a relaxed rhythm, get used to himself, and bond with us. This is recommended for children who cannot walk on their own legs. The hippotherapist is always present in this process and it is a quiet and safe activity.
If horse riding is associated with galloping, high speeds and jumping in the saddle, it is probably the closest to physiotherapy on a horse. The patient performs various exercises under the supervision of not only the hippotherapist, but also in accordance with the doctor’s recommendations, thanks to which he can gradually eliminate his health problems. People after this type of therapy report a higher mental and physical well-being. In times when we constantly sit at work, at the university and at home, taking care of your posture and the efficiency of joints is a must.
One of the most original and unusual aspects of hippotherapy is its effect on people who show symptoms of sociopathy or emotional immaturity . A relationship with a horse, that is, a living creature with its own character, needs and way of reasoning, allows such people to get to know the world around them better. Psycho-pedagogical horse riding and vaulting deal with such people. A person can mount a horse, but he can also walk alongside him, allowing himself to be guided, in a way, to communicate with him equally.
While horse riding is very common in every country and finding a suitable facility is not a problem, finding a facility with hippotherapy may not be easy. One should be patient and assume in advance that such centers will be located in larger cities and in specific towns. Despite this, it is a field that is constantly evolving, and majors such as psychology offer specializations to adapt future psychologists to animal therapy.
Having problems with joints, excessive stress, emotions, or misunderstanding of other people, we can confidently direct our steps towards hippotherapy. Horse riding is a solution that is both good for your health and your spirit. Unlike pharmacotherapy, there are no complications and you can be sure that the problem will not worsen by itself. Instead, it may disappear, or at least be overwhelmed by newly acquired experiences and coping techniques. Especially if so far other methods of therapy have not brought the intended results.