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Complete Guide to Hippotherapy

If conventional therapy sessions no longer interest your physically or mentally challenged loved one, hippotherapy offers the best alternative. A lot of loving parents are discovering the power of horses to help their challenged children (or adults) to regain some form of independence from their disability. Some are seeing hope in hippotherapy after observing a significant improvement in their loved ones’ physical and cognitive abilities into which their doctors have already thrown the white towel. Most of them were surprised to find the answer to their prayers in some hippotherapist’s stable.

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What Is Hippotherapy

Despite its name, hippotherapy has nothing to do with hippos. Instead, it’s an increasingly popular therapy that uses horses as a living tool to help patients. Historical documents suggest that the therapy already existed back to the time of the father of medicine, Hippocrates. However, it’s been formalized only in the 1960′s in some countries in Europe. Today, some doctors and therapists around the world recommend hippotherapy to their otherwise hopeless cases.

Who Can Benefit from Hippotherapy

Hippotherapy can help people with either congenital or acquired cognitive and physical disabilities. More specifically, hippotherapy can help patients with the following conditions:

1. Autism
2. Cerebral palsy
3. Developmental delay
4. Down syndrome
5. Multiple sclerosis
6. Stroke
7. Traumatic head or back injury
8. Other neurological, physical, and emotional problems

In fact, some marriage councilors use horses to spark the dwindling romance between a married couple.

Scientific Explanation behind Hippotherapy

It seems too good to be true that a horse can help both physically and mentally challenged individuals. But the evidence is growing – a lot of ordinary people and doctors now believe in hippotherapy. So how does a humble horse do it?

For physically challenged individuals, the way a horse’s hip moves when walking, which closely resembles that of humans, stimulates and moves the musculoskeletal system needed for humans to move. The mere hippotherapist-assisted horseback riding does wonders in giving a patient’s musculoskeletal system a workout. By skillfully manipulating the horse’s gait, the therapist can strengthen a patient’s core muscles, improving them without requiring an already immobile patient to move.

For the psychologically challenged patients, the mere interaction of the animal and other patients improve the patients’ self-esteem and social skills. There’s also something about riding horses that gives a psychologically deprived patient self-confidence to take on other more challenging tasks. Unlike other therapies, hippotherapy isn’t a drab activity, too, so it gives patients something to look forward to.

Benefits of Hippotherapy

Hippotherapy can help a patient’s physical, emotional, cognitive, and social capacity. Specifically, it can help a person improvement on the following areas:

1. Balance and equilibrium
2. Muscle Coordination
3. Muscle Tone
4. Posture
5. Self-esteem and Motivation
6. Sensory perception
7. Social skills

Hippotherapy for Awareness and Wellbeing

One A-list spa in Sonora Dessert, Arizona, also found hippotherapy to be very beneficial to a person’s awareness and wellbeing. The Miraval Equine Experience has been helping people discover their inner strength and tranquility through horse interaction. The experience is said to release whatever issues that’s dragging you down, preventing you to achieve the life that you meant to lead. All the guests that have experienced the life-changing effects never thought that a horse can bring out such a profound effect to their awareness and wellbeing.

Hippotherapy Centers Near You

If you have a love one that could probably benefit from hippotherapy, consult the nearest center near you for a consult. In America, the American Hippotherapy Association is the largest consortium of hippotherapists and centers that can point you to a practitioner near you. If you’re in Australia, call the Riding for the Disabled (RDA) on how you can avail of their hippotherapy programs. RDA also has accredited centers in the Greater London Region to help European patients.

If you witness autism or paralysis in the family, for example, take your loved one to a hippotherapy session for a change. It’s okay to hesitate, but it’s a pity to give up hope when there’s an alternative offering a chance

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