Have you heard of Hippotherapy?

…and I’m not talking about riding on a Hippo. Hippotherapy is all about the movement and engagement with horses. Yes, you heard right, horses!

When you first come across Hippotherapy, it might not be what you think. The word Hippos come from the Ancient Greek word for horse. It’s a specialised physiotherapy treatment created with the use of horse movements. It can also be known as equine-assisted therapy. The movements encourage those who may find it difficult to complete day-to-day activities. It is a form of physical, occupational and speech therapy. Both children and adults benefit from Hippotherapy, often improving their health and well being throughout the process.

Hippotherapy isn’t there to teach you how to ride a horse, its intended purpose is to help you. However, communication with the horse is encouraged, as well as interaction. The difference between Hippotherapy and therapeutic horseback riding is just that, you are not taught specific riding skills. It’s a treatment, not a lesson. This is a fun alternative to your everyday physiotherapy and is considered both therapeutic and rehabilitative.

Our physio got us into contact with the Hippotherapy team. Harmonie has always had really flexed hips so it helps by loosening her joints and helps her hips to be able to move more freely, it also helps with her posture core stability and balance reactions. It also is a sport that harmonie can do with her legs on, which sometimes we struggle to find something that she is able to do with confidence on her legs. She has currently been on the mechanical stimulator horse and soon will be ready to ride the real thing – Freya Mae Hall, mum to Harmonie – pictured above.

The use of the horse’s movements is there to improve one’s coordination, overall balance and ultimately, their strength. Individuals can take away what they have learnt with the horse and apply it to their daily activities. It might be worth you speaking to your Occupational Therapist or Physiotherapist, both of which you can source at your local Limb Centre. Alternatively, you can contact Riding for the Disabled, who will know which of their groups offer Hippotherapy.

ABOUT RDA…enriching lives through horses

At Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA), horses benefit the lives of over 25,000 disabled children and adults. With fun activities like riding and carriage driving, RDA provide therapy, fitness, skills development and opportunities for achievement – all supported by 18,000 amazing volunteers and qualified coaches at nearly 500 RDA centres all over the UK.

RDA is an inclusive and diverse organisation. They welcome clients with physical and learning disabilities and autism, and there are no age restrictions. Through their network of member groups, RDA is at work in every corner of the UK, in our cities and remote rural areas, bringing the therapy, achievement and fun of horses to as many people as they can.

Website: rad.org.uk Telephone: 01926 492915

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