One of the most beneficial therapies for both physical and mental stimulation with disabled children is regular therapeutic horse riding sessions (Hippotherapy).
These sessions involve the use of specially chosen horses, with adapted saddles and riding equipment and highly trained and experienced equestrian tutors. The repetitive and rhythmic movement of the horse requires constant correction of balance, aligning of the hips, trunk, back, shoulders, neck and head positioning.
Therapists use many different postions on the horse and encourage reaching for, catching and throwing specifically chosen toys so that all areas of the body are included in each session. This gives a total and extensive workout for both the body and the brain.
As required the therapists will mount the horse with the patient to assist them in acheiving the correct positioning and interaction with the toys until they are able to complete the excerises in a basic manner without assistance. They then dismount and work on improving the fine execution of each excercise.
Wherever and whenever possible they will also try to include both walking and trotting to incorporate different rhythm patterns and increase the level of control required by the patient.
On the physical side, regular horse riding sessions provide:
- More supple, flexible, relaxed muscles, tendons and ligaments
- Increased range of movement in the joints
- Enhanced muscle strength
- Increased respiration, circulation and general physical fitness
- Stimulation of the nerves in all areas of the body leading to increased sensory awareness
- Better control of gross and fine motor movements and posture
- Enhanced balance and corrective positioning reactions
- Improved co-ordination, spatial orientation and visual spacial perception
The above benefits assist in dramatically improving Tomas´s general mobility and physical functionality for everyday activities such as standing, sitting, trying to walk or move, eating, drinking etc.
On the psychological side, the sessions provide:
- Improved listening and communication
- Extended concentration and attention span
- Enhanced confidence and self esteem
- Fun and enjoyment
The above benefits help to improve Tomas´s general understanding, learning ability, language, speech and enhance his everyday social skills and interaction with others.
These sessions provide Tomas with a huge boost to his general health and wellbeing, while at the same time providing him with a regular sense of achievement and source of great pleasure.