Since about 450 BC, in the years of the famous Hippocrates, people have known about the beneficial value of the horse's movements for the health of humans. The profound healing effect takes place due to the vibrational impulses emanating from the horse's body. This was already recognised at that time and applied in practice. To this day, horses are used for therapeutic riding, curative riding and as a helping animal-assisted therapy for people with handicaps or psychological problems.
Not every riding stable offers these possibilities, but in recent years there has been a noticeable increase in these great offers. Positive results speak for themselves. Here you will find interesting information on the subject:
Medically valuable - the hippotherapy
This form of therapy is worth its weight in gold. If people cannot move in their natural way due to a handicap or a serious physical illness (doctors prescribe this physiotherapeutic, neurophysiological treatment), they are taken back into a striding (forward-moving) form of movement by the acting vibrations of the horses. The animal takes over the necessary treatment as a "living training device".
This is of course done with the help of a knowledgeable, specially trained physiotherapist. This profession requires special riding therapy training, because not only the human being but also the horse must be expertly coordinated.
Curative riding - a rock of stability
In the field of therapeutic riding and curative education, the horse takes the place of an "educational aide" or "developmental aide". Here it is not just a matter of learning to ride. Children with behavioural problems or, in the worst case, children and adolescents with behavioural disorders find it much easier to connect with an animal than perhaps with other people. The horse helps them to open up, to solve problems and to be able to master their everyday life again. The cuddly four-legged friend is quickly accepted as a partner, becomes a link and reflects positive behaviour as well as mistakes. Because: Horses are always honest!
This animal-assisted therapy helps people to confront their environment again. It strengthens from within, one could say. Curative riding has a positive effect on the psyche of those affected. The pedagogical supervisor needs a lot of sensitivity and a well-founded training in riding and in social interaction with people. Curative riding simply requires very extensive knowledge. Despite this, and precisely for this reason, it is a horse therapy that makes sense.
Therapy horses - animals with heart and mind
The therapist must be able to rely on his "work colleague". Therapeutic riding is also exhausting for the horse. Patience is a key word. This means that the animal must remain calm when, for example, a patient is placed on its back by crane. Horse therapy therefore requires horses that are particularly calm, well-behaved, gentle and easy to sit. So there are definitely a few prerequisites that a future therapy horse must have:
- human orientation
- an open nature
- calm and not very jumpy
- well-balanced, softly seated and clean gaits
- a handful of curiosity (these animals approach things with motivation and learn more easily)
- good social behaviour towards his fellow horses (he should have developed this anyway with a careful upbringing).
Therapy and horses simply belong together. Ultimately, it is not about achieving great successes immediately. Rather, the journey is the goal. A difficult path for the person concerned, but one that is no longer quite so rocky thanks to the horse and the great care.
Fact is: therapeutic riding is so much more than just riding. It does things in the human body that go far beyond the physical. Maybe you like this work? Whether it's hippotherapy or any other kind of horse therapy - you can do a lot of good as a therapist. And the work on the riding stable as well as the therapy on horseback also brings about a wonderfully fulfilling feeling for the person doing the work.
The following is a guest contribution from the Fischbach riding therapy:
Encounter - move - touch
Therapeutic riding - a form of therapy with animals - this is now, fortunately, relatively well known
and also the positive effects of horses on the psyche and the body are no longer commonplace.
Meeting horses - this encounter is always something special: large creatures that turn their eyes towards you, friendly and curious, ears pricked, a gentle "hello" with their nostrils - the warm air, the soft nose. Horses meet every person in a neutral and friendly way - no matter if the person is in a wheelchair or has a mental handicap. They do not judge - they accept. And they accept everyone as they are. This strengthens them - both inside and out: their self-esteem, their own presence and their confidence in their appearance can grow as a result.
Horses move - and that is used. The three-dimensional movement of the step has a positive effect on tonus regulation and muscle (tension), and balance is also trained. Whether spasticity or hemiplegia - the whole body benefits from this. And it is not only on the horse that horses move; working together on the ground also increases body awareness and promotes one's own possibilities of movement.
Touching - and I'm not necessarily just talking about touching. Stroking, running your fingers through the mane, crawling - these are all tactile experiences that convey positive, attentive and beautiful moments. But horses also touch - in the heart. Everyone who has anything to do with horses will have experienced such a moment. That is why everyone is welcome in our riding therapy, regardless of whether psychological or physical suffering prevails.
The horses are our main therapists, our faithful co-workers who tirelessly perform their service every day and do so - in my eyes - with pleasure. We keep our horses in a herd and try to give them as species-appropriate a life as possible. Corrective riding and varied work (lunge, double lunge, ground work, free work) is done to keep the five of them vital and fit. We don't see our five Haflingers as therapy tools, but as the best colleagues in the world. And now we can give them some feel-good moments ourselves - with the great brushes from Animalon. Thank you very much!