Basic concepts of Equine Therapy


Equine Therapy is a therapy that uses the horse as a therapeutic tool and is divided into three areas:


Works with people who have neuromotor disorders  with neurological, traumatic, degenerative or genetic origins

Therapeutic riding

This is the area that brings in psychiatry, psychology and pedagogy, as well as the promotion kinesis. Therapeutic riding treats psycho dysfunction, sensomotor and sociomotor problems that have psychological, psychiatric or educational bases.

Riding as a sport

People who are gaining mastery of their body and can control the horse, can start working in this area.

Equine Therapy covers the integration of four different professional fields:

  • Medicine: plays an important role in hypotherapy because sitting on horseback is used as a physical therapy for patients with neurological dysfunction that have neuromotor, traumatic or degenerative origins.
  • Psychology y Education: are directly affected by therapeutic riding and when combined with phsychotherapy therapeutic riding treat psychomotor, sensomotor and sociomotor disfunctions.
  • Sport: riding as a sport gives people with certain physical and functional disabilities the opportunity to fully integrate into a sporting life.

Within hypotherapy we use two methods: Passive and Active therapy.

  • Passive therapy: the patient passively adjusts to the movement of the horse without any action on their part, drawing heat body, the rhythmic impulses and the shape of the three-dimensional horse. It uses the "back riding" technique where the therapist sits behind the patient to support and align during the ride.
  • Active therapy: adds to the passive adaptation neuromuscular exercises to stimulate greater standardization of muscle tone, balance, coordination and psychomotor symmetry and body exercises neurosensory stimulation to increase neuronal synapses and brain plasticity.

Horse assisted therapies are seen as complementary medicine and are usually recommended as additions to other therapies. The therapy is supervised by physicians in different specialties. To get the best results it is necessary to record and continually measure progress and schedule exercises the specialist recommends.

Scientific foundations

In the past two decades the scientific and medical community around the world has devoted many hours to study the horseback therapies , their benefits, their foundations and various exercises stimulation to achieve the maximum rehabilitation of the patient, below are some of the factors underlying Equine Therapy.

Movement - three dimensional and rotational

We observe that the movements of a person riding on a horse that is walking slowly, are almost identical to those of a person walking. Both follow the same pattern of movement in the human pelvis and the trunk, while the rider sits on the center over the spine of the horse.

  • The movement of horse affects the human pelvis and trunk when riding passively on the horse in motion.
  • The movement of the horse must be continuous and rhythmic.
  • The lateral movement should be side to side and of the same amplitude.
  • A slight rotation is derived from the horse's rhythm while walking.
  • The pelvic inclination will move back and forth at a rate depending on the type of therapy for the patient.

These rhythmic movements transmit  to the rider between 90 to 120 pulsations per minute (depending on the horse) and encourage physical and neurological development of the entire human body.

This process of stimulation produces endorphins which promotes neuronal synapses, allows the brain to identify: muscles, members, organs, etc., begin to send instructions to them and promoting neuro-muscular empowerment, because in the vast majority of cases, the nervous system has been unaware of their existence, or in the case of neurological damage Equine Therapy stimulation develops and strengthens synaptic plasticity.

The horse and rider binomial

The communication established between the rider and the horse is based on the primary communication that is mainly emotional, and promotes self-esteem and confidence to the patient, similar to maternal communication from conception to the first year of age.

Influence and psychological stimulation Neuro-sensorial

Given that the therapy is given primarily in open areas, surrounded by vegetation where the patient's family can also participate, the therapy gives the patient a period of entertainment and sport allowing the patient to gain stimulation without being conscious of the therapy. The therapy session allows active and passive learning by stimulating the brain through the 5 senses increasing neuronal synapses in different brain areas thus promoting complex mental processes organized in brains areas working in harmony.

Stimulation of signaling molecules

Riding stimulates signaling molecules, these are derivatives of the amino acids that act as neuro-transmistors and neuro-modulators in the synapse of neurons, these are serotonin, dopamine, endorfin, noradrenaline and adrenaline, maturing and speeding up various brain areas, promoting the generation of mental processes, especially higher mental faculties, such as attention, conscious mechanisms, cognitive skills, social relationships and self-control.

Changing the behavior of parents and families

Through Equine Therapy parents and relatives of patients acquire a sense of confidence in them which allows them to support their self-reliance and self-esteem. The additional help of psychologists and other specialists will increase confidence towards the rider for preparing for the future and encourage the family to project a "You can" attitude to the patient.

Alternative Therapies on horseback

During the therapy sessions and by taking advantage of the patient's willingness to learn, one can create recreational and cultural activities plus physiological, kinesiological, psychological and neurological exercises aimed at improving coordination, breathing, developing senses and other abilities of the patient.


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