Friday, 21 October 2016

Horses… A form of Therapy

Working with horses can provide more than just riding skills - participants can also learn companionship, responsibility, confidence, leadership, vocational and educational skills etc. Riding a horse provides a unique recreational or leisure activity for many. There are many sports in which the disabled can participate in to enhance their lives and attain social and physical fitness but riding offers more than just an activity, as the rider creates a bond with the horse, in order for him/her to benefit entirely. Horses don’t judge, making them an extra special companion. In this form of therapy- The Horse is the Therapist!

A student who interacts with his/ her horse may extend this interaction to others and form meaningful relationships with people. Building a relationship with an animal is very rewarding in many respects; for a person with an emotional, social or psychological disability, the trust and loyalty of an animal demonstrates to the student how important he or she is; they may then apply this newly-acquired self-esteem to personal relationships. A horse may also help a person feel in control of his or her situation, since in dealing with horses there is a direct relationship between action and reaction.

To learn how to care for (and ride) a horse, a student must also be able to communicate effectively with both horse and instructor. In this way riding is a social activity, but may be less daunting to those uncomfortable in social situations. Riding a horse is also a unique experience, and it helps empower a person, enabling them to connect with others on a personal level. The sometimes-unpredictable nature of animals and situations also creates a real-life environment in which a student can confront his or her fears, and adjust to situations beyond their control. Children with disabilities love having a quiet, peaceful environment, as do horses, so they may teach each other many things.

Saddling up a horse is an enjoyable experience for many people, but for an individual with a disability it can signify much more -A road to Recovery and Freedom. Many people with physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities are constantly discovering the benefits of Therapeutic Horse-back riding. Horses provide challenges as well as rewards. Therapeutic riding is the use of the horse and riding activities to achieve a variety of therapeutic goals. The benefits of therapeutic horse riding are as numerous as the types of disabilities and conditions that are found. Research shows that students who participate in therapeutic riding can experience physical, emotional, cognitive, social, educational and behavioural benefits. The differences between Therapeutic Riding and Hippo-therapy is that Hippo-therapy is a form of physical, occupational and speech therapy in which a therapist uses the characteristic movements of a horse to provide carefully graded motor and sensory input. A foundation is established to improve neurological function and sensory processing, which can be generalised to a wide range of daily activities. Unlike therapeutic horseback riding (where specific riding skills are taught), the movement of the horse is a means to a treatment goal when utilising hippo-therapy as a treatment strategy. In Hippo-therapy the horse influences the patient, and the patient does not usually influence the horse in any way, as the horse professional is controlling and moving the horse.

In Therapeutic riding not only does the horse influence the rider but the rider will at times influence the horse. The emphasis in Therapeutic riding is on working towards learning riding skills and therapeutic activities on horseback, focusing on areas of challenge and specific therapy goals. The sense of independence found on horseback benefits all who ride. The therapeutic qualities of horse riding are recognized by many medical professionals.

Who can benefit from Therapy Riding and Hippo-therapy?
Therapy riding benefits children and adults with physical, mental and emotional disabilities and conditions such as: Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down syndrome, ADD, ADHD, Hyper activity, Concentration difficulties, low muscle tone, stroke, visually, hearing and speech impaired individuals. Mentally challenged individuals, those recovering from ailments and physical injury and trauma as well as those with physical abnormalities of most types and emotional issues. Adults and Children that come from broken homes and disturbed/unsettled backgrounds etc.

All therapy is done with a qualified therapist and a horse riding instructor and the required amount of side walkers per patient. All therapy is done on horses that go through a special process to be made suitable to carry and benefit these special riders, but we should also understand and take into consideration that horses are animals, and like any other animals, are sometimes unpredictable and accidents do happen, though under good supervision, hardly ever.

Some of the Benefits of Equine Assisted Therapy Include:
Improves balance- movements of the horse alter the rider’s centre of gravity, thus forcing him/her
to maintain balance. Improves posture. Normalises muscle tone. Increases range of muscle tone, Reduces and prevents contractures. Builds muscle strength. Improves cardio vascular functioning. Stimulates body metabolism. Develops eye-hand coordination, fine and gross motor skills. Offers sensory stimulation through activity and surroundings. Encourages reading and speech through games and activities. Allows contact with animals and the understanding thereof. Offers comfort as riding is a natural reflex inhibiting activity.

Helps the individual adjust to their disability. Restores and enhances self-esteem and self-confidence. Promotes decision making and thinking ahead. Teaches responsibility, patience, consideration, compassion and skill. Enhances concentration and self-control. Teaches to recognise, accept, and cope with fear. Enhances social interaction. Encourages independence. Encourages positivity. Promotes relaxation and tension release. Promotes bonding, a sense of love and a feeling of achievement.

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1 comment:

  1. AsalamuAlaikum
    i would like to know where is this place based ?