In addition to animals bonding with autistic kids, Hippotherapy is a physical therapy which is done under a doctor’s supervision, and is generally part of a comprehensive therapeutic package. This sort of program can benefit kids, youths, and adults who have physical or developmental disabilities.
Hippotherapy and Therapeutic Riding both use the horse’s rhythmic movement to achieve certain therapeutic results. Therapists assist patients ride the horse in a number of different positions, from standing in the stirrups, laying backward, sideways, to riding without holding on.
Hippotherapy is great for:
relaxing tense muscles
increasing muscle strength
enhancing hand-eye coordination
gaining better body-awareness
gaining more self-control
improving fine motor skills
improving sensory integration
Because the horse’s movement moves the patient’s pelvis in the right manner and stimulates other bones, joints, and ligaments, the patient is also moving in several ways such as by rotating and tilting, which would most likely take an entire session of challenging physical therapy exercises to accomplish. Sitting itself on a horse helps in improving core muscle strength, balance, flexibility, muscle symmetry, posture, coordination, circulation, and breathing. The autistic child cannot integrate his senses and understanding of how his body relate to outside forces and surfaces. But Hippotherapy can admirably improve the kid’s sense of his own body in space. Hippotherapy often doesn’t use a saddle so the autistic child can get sensations from the horse’s natural movements, making a kid more aware of which parts his or her body are in respect to the horse.
The excitement of horse-riding promotes speech. For example, non-verbal autistic kids have begun suddenly speaking when they use the horse’s name or tell the horse to move.
The non-judgmental and unconditional aspect of the bonding process between the patient and the horse encourages the autistic to develop healthy interaction and attachment with a living being, which most autistic children find very difficult to achieve. Kids enjoy this kind of therapy that they don’t even realize the fact that they are participating in a therapeutic activity.