The Word Hippotherapy:
Originating from the Greek word Hippo, Hippotherapy literally means “treatment with the help of a horse”. Hippotherapy is an overall term used to describe the use of the horse in treatment to achieve functional outcomes.
Hippotherapy has been used as a form of treatment in Europe, particularly in West Germany and Switzerland. The potential for disabled individuals to benefit and succeed in riding was noted when a polio victim won an Olympic dressage medal in post World War II.
Today, licensed health professionals, with strong backgrounds in posture, movement, neuromotor function, and sensory processing have realized the benefit of utilizing the three dimensional movement of the horse to improve the conditions of their clients.
Occupational, physical, and speech therapists use horses as a treatment tool. The movement of the horse along with traditional therapy intervention, influences muscle tone, encourages muscle action, and improves vestibular reactions, sensorimotor integration, and midline postural posture control. Positive psychological, social, emotional, and behavioral effects make hippotherapy a fun and self- esteem boosting experience for the mild to severely disabled children, and individuals of all ages.
For more information about hippotherapy, please visit the website for the American Hippotherapy Association at www.americanhippotherapyassociation.org