Therapy on a Horse?
It sounds unusual but in fact a variety of impairments can be addressed through movement and positioning on the backside of a horse. This is not a job for just any horse and it’s not a job for just any therapist. Both need special training and the right temperament and the right muscles! At Hold Your Horses occupational therapists (and often physical therapists and speech therapists) have completed course work and sat for certification exams in order to incorporate the horse into their practice. The treatment strategy of using the movement of the horse is called hippotherapy. The American Hippotherapy Association, Inc. offers this definition:
The term hippotherapy refers to how occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech-language pathology professionals use evidence-based practice and clinical reasoning in the purposeful manipulation of equine movement to engage sensory, neuromotor, and cognitive systems to achieve functional outcomes. In conjunction with the affordances of the equine environment and other treatment strategies, hippotherapy is part of a patient’s integrated plan of care.
It turns out that it is impossible to replicate this kind of treatment in a clinic or classroom setting. No bouncy ball pit or swing can replicate the opportunity for movement, warmth and connection provided by the horse. Therapy at the farm provides a rich sensory environment and is often used as a meaningful break from time in the clinic or may provide the just right addition to current services. It may not be right for everyone though so feel free to discuss hippotherapy with your care providers or call HYH at 763 498 0007 to schedule a screening.