Hippotherapy: From the Greek ‘hippos’= horse + ‘therapia’ = healing
In hippotherapy, specially-trained physiotherapists use the three dimensional movements of the horse’s back to bring about change in the ‘rider’.
The main goals are to improve posture, balance and co-ordinated movement for the client but this specialist form of physiotherapy can also help with communication, mobilisation of joints (particularly of hips and lumbar spine), self-esteem and confidence.
One of the main benefits is that it is a therapy in disguise. Important work is completed but in a fun, engaging and challenging way. Clients develop close relationships with the specially-selected horses and moving forward, they often go on to ride with their peers as a leisure activity or take up riding as a sport.
Every horse has a different quality of movement. During treatment, the horse is led by an experienced leader to give the best quality walk for that client. Depending on the condition being treated, the client may be sitting astride or sideways, lying down or even backriding, when the physiotherapist sits behind the client on the horse.
Therapy is typically in six-week blocks, with measurable outcomes and the opportunity to assess and set goals to take forward to another block of hippotherapy or to progress to therapeutic riding.
Who can benefit from hippotherapy?
Suitable for both adults and children, it’s typically - but not exclusively - helpful for cerebral palsy, acquired brain injury, multiple sclerosis, other neurological conditions and some MSK conditions.
Training and qualifications
Elizabeth was one of the first physiotherapists in the UK to gain a qualification in hippotherapy and has been heavily involved with developing the post-graduate training that today defines the profession.
Moving on from hippotherapy
Many clients who have had a course of hippotherapy go on to therapeutic riding to learn riding skills and develop as riders. Some may return for further short courses of hippotherapy periodically, to address a particular physical need, others require repeated blocks of hippotherapy before progressing to riding, while some clients will not move on to a riding group.
For more information or enquires on booking a hippotherapy session please contact us