Horse riding is becoming a more widely recognised therapy for many disabilities and disorders. Some experts have found adaptive riding to be useful for helping vulnerable children and adults, but how effective is it?
Adaptive riding, also known as equine assisted activity or Hippotherapy, is growing as a recognised treatment for people suffering from a variety of physical and mental challenges. For many, it is seen as a comparatively new treatment, although it has been known as a form of therapy for the last few decades. It is only in recent years, however, that more adaptive riding centres have sprung up around the world.
It is believed that this form of horse riding therapy was first developed in Germany, primarily to treat orthopaedic conditions. Because horse riding requires poise and posture, it was felt that this was ideal for patients to build up the strength required to combat certain issues naturally. Ailments such as scoliosis, which causes a sideways curve of the spine, were among the first reasons for adaptive riding therapy.
Who Does Horse Riding Therapy Help?
This therapy is believed to provide help for a wide range of people of all ages, suffering from a myriad of issues. This can range from mental health problems and learning difficulties to recuperative care and rehabilitation from serious medical conditions such as strokes or even addiction. There are claims that it can help to ease discomfort for multiple sclerosis sufferers.
Officially, the medical world views adaptive therapy as purely an experimental form of healthcare, because of insufficient data to support the claims made by its supporters. This is understandable, as healthcare is an area that requires quantifiable results, certainly if such therapy is going to be prescribed by medical practitioners.
Actual Results Of Adaptive Riding
While the jury might be out on physical benefits of horse riding therapy, the psychological effects seem to be more obvious. It is perhaps the interaction with horses that is the most effective part of the therapy itself. For those who might not feel confident with people, a horse can be something of a substitute. Even the simple interaction with a horse without riding appears to have some merit.
With a horse, the communications and reactions are more physical. This can help those who struggle with communication to learn, or relearn, to read signs and interpret boundaries. There is also the benefit of outdoor exercise, which can improve general mood and outlook. The studies on this area side of adaptive riding are more positive.
Although horse riding therapy hasn’t been proved conclusively as an effective treatment for many medical conditions, it certainly does seem to have its up sides. It’s worth remembering that in the long run, perhaps a little change of scene and exercise is valuable for its own merits.
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