Hippotherapy is a treatment that uses the
multidimensional movement of the horse; from the Greek word "hippos" which means horse. Specially trained physical,
occupational and speech therapists use this medical treatment for clients who have movement dysfunction. Historically, the
therapeutic benefits of the horse were recognized as early as 460 BC. The use of the horse as therapy evolved throughout Europe,
the United States and Canada.
Hippotherapy uses activities on the horse that are
meaningful to the client. Treatment takes place in a controlled environment where graded sensory input can elicit appropriate
adaptive responses from the client. Specific riding skills are not taught (as in therapeutic riding), but rather a foundation
is established to improve neurological function and sensory processing. This foundation can then be generalized to a wide
range of daily activities.
Why the Horse?
The horse's walk provides sensory input through movement which is variable, rhythmic and repetitive. The resultant
movement responses in the client are similar to human movement patterns of the pelvis while walking. The variability of the
horse's gait enables the therapist to grade the degree of sensory input to the client, then use this movement in combination
with other clinical treatments to achieve desired results. Clients respond enthusiastically to this enjoyable learning experience
in a natural setting.
Physically, hippotherapy can improve balance, posture, mobility
and function. Hippotherapy may also affect psychological, cognitive, behavioral and communication functions for clients of
all ages. Clients who may benefit from hippotherapy can have a variety of diagnoses: examples include Cerebral Palsy, Multiple
Sclerosis, Developmental Delay, Traumatic Brain Injury, Stroke, Autism and Learning or Language Disabilities. However, hippotherapy
is not for every client. Each potential client must be evaluated on an individual basis by specially trained health professionals.
We currently have six horses in our barn. They are very special to us and our horses
are literally our "own therapy" to our busy lives. They are very much loved, used for local and professional shows,
performance and therapy. We currently have the luxury of using miniature horses, our pony Ruby, and our three
horses, Armani, Sandy, and Fuzzy for therapeutic work. The miniature horses provide a unique opportunity to create a
special relationship with your child. Due to the smaller size of a miniature horse, children are simply drawn to
them naturally. Miniature horses are a wonderful opportunity for a child to use a multitude of sensory, physical and occupational
integration within an environment that cannot be reproduced in an office. To meet our herd, follow the link to our "virtual" barn.