Therapeutic principles of Equine Therapy

For centuries, the horse has served mankind with its strength and speed in the fields of transport, the military and sports. Their willingness to serve the man has been tireless.

Today, the horse provides three specific features that form the basis for the use of riding as therapy.

The therapeutic principles underlying Equine Therapy are: transmission of the body heat of the horse, rhythmic impulses and the rate of step when walking which is similar to how we walk.

Since the body of the horse gets to around 38.8° C when moving its body acts as a tool to defuse heat that relaxes muscles, ligaments and stimulates touch.

The patient rides without a saddle and if possible bare-back. This allows the heat to be transmitted to the pelvic area and the patient's lower limbs , which helps with the relaxation of the leg muscles and buttocks.

It has been proved that the contact and warmth of the horse the patient will find that the leg muscles and ligaments remain relaxed for an extended period (up to 6 hours in the case of the adductors).

You can also do many other exercises that get excellent results in terms of relaxation, elasticity, sensory stimulation and increased stimulation of the circulatory system.

Contact and closeness to the horse also has great therapeutic value in respect to the patient's psychology.  All of this leads to feelings of security, love and protection in order to rebuild self-confidence and acceptance of oneself.

The rhythmic pulse of the horse's spine are transmitted to the pelvic area, the spine and lower limbs of the rider. When walking, about 90 to 110 pulsations per minute are transmitted to the rider's pelvis; they in turn increase in number and intensity if the horse starts to trot.

The impulses are caused by the lumbar muscles and ventral muscles of the horse, which expand and contract rhythmically and regularly when the horse walks or trots. The forward movement forces the rider's pelvic area to adapt to the tilting motion, physiological impulses are sent upwards through the spine to the head, helping with the patient's ability to balance and aligning the torso.

The purpose of physiotherapy is to provide physiological stimuli to even out muscle tone and develop coordinated movement.

The transmission of these rhythmical and regular physiological impulses form the basis for Equine Therapy, which makes it a physical therapy with broad neuromotor effects (Strauss, 1993).

The psychotherapeutic value lies in the improvement of self-confidence and trust in the world that surrounds the patient. The therapy gives the patient a whole range of new psychosensory experiences that take full advantage of both psychological and psychiatric areas.

Increasingly Equine Therapy is gaining importance in the areas of psychology and psychiatry and is now being integrated as therapeutic support within psychiatric institutions.

The value of Equine Therapy, for the transmission of a three-dimensional sensation of locomotion equivalent to human motion lets you work with people who cannot walk and develops coordination and stabilization of the trunk and head. The crucial factors for success are the smooth movement of the horse, a rhythmic and regular gait and a work-out of the thigh and upper leg muscles.

The value of physical and psychological principles that form the basis of Equine Therapy mean that it is a very complete therapy, which can be applied to medical, psychological and psychiatric care.


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