TECHNICALLY SPEAKING, The horse's pelvis moves in the same tri-planer motion at the walk as the human pelvis, within centimeters. This movement helps facilitate a normal gait pattern for patients with ambulation dysfunction. The sensory input from the horse impacts on the patient's vestibular, tactile and proprioceptive systems, which provide a foundation for the development of sensory motor abilities that should but don't exist. This then allows Physical, Occupational, Speech-Language and Psychotherapy professionals to address their therapy goals effectively and expediently in the arena and on the "sensory" trail. The results are displayed in a normalizing of muscle tone, improved postural alignment, midline orientation, improved head, neck, and trunk control, improved body awareness, and improved balance and equilibrium reactions.
THERAPEUTICALLY SPEAKING, Hippotherapy, when used as a treatment strategy by Physical, Occupational, Speech Language and Psychotherapy professionals promotes motor planning abilities, mobilizes the hip, pelvis and lumbar spine, stimulates the central nervous system, activates weak muscles and reduces spasticity which leads to improved posture, mobility, balance, respiration, articulation and cognition. Often patients with Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Developmental Delay, Multiple Sclerosis, as well as other neurological disorders have abnormal tone and reflexes, asymmetries, poor postural control, impaired balance and coordination or decreased mobility within their environment. They often display sensory issues that prevent them from functioning successfully in their environment. They may display delayed speech, attentional issues, poor sensory reactions, and gross or fine motor skills. These challenges can be addressed with a therapist who has special training in the use of hippotherapy as a strategy in their practice to achieve goals and functional outcomes.
MOTIVATIONALLY SPEAKING, Hippotherapy is a highly motivating intervention strategy for simple reasons. KIDS AND ADULTS LOVE ANIMALS and the idea that they have their very own equine friend waiting for them each week is inspiring and compelling. The environment of the barn and the experiences on the sensory trail include smells, sights, touch and of course the warmth of a furry friend which fosters a desire in children and adults to participate more readily than sitting in an office or a treatment room. For some children who are unable to participate in "mainstream" sports and activities, "riding" a horse gives them self-esteem and confidence and supports the notion that they are more than TYPICAL doing things that even their best friends might not do. Carryover to other activities such as bike riding, skiing and skating have been reported in the literature and observed within this practice.