“After six months of equine-assisted activities, I visited my rehabilitation center for a check up. With no other change in my workout routine other than the riding, they noted an increase of approximately 40% in both nerve regeneration and muscle return since my last visit five years before. At first I was upset that after 26 years of being in a wheelchair, I had never heard of therapeutic riding. But my purpose now is to be sure that the world knows about it. I do not want others to miss out on what this opportunity can afford them.”
"When Catie was about 2 1/2 we still had no speech to speak of (a total of 3 words) and the frustration was mounting and showing itself in aggressive fits. She was in early intervention…with little progress toward speech. Her Occupational Therapist suggested therapeutic riding…and we finally talked UNH into letting her ride at age three.
"By about the third lesson she told the horse she loved him. Our first sentence. Each child has an out and this was Catie's. It was very special for her.
"If you had told me that a horse could get her to speak I would've thought you were nuts. We had tried all sorts of things: picture books, sign language…the list went on and on. But it was the love of horses that made the difference."
"The populations I work with are pediatric at one clinic and all age ranges in another clinic. I utilize hippotherapy as a very effective part of my treatment for better than half the populations I work with. There are several reasons that I often find hippotherapy to be a more effective choice to accomplish my client’s goals. First of all, the sensory environment of being on the back of a moving horse is ideal – it is rich in vestibular and proprioceptive input which helps to modulate the client’s sensory system. The motor input of the horse’s walk helps to challenge the client’s balance and postural control. Because the movement of the horse can be varied so easily, the client has a wide range of opportunities for gross motor improvements, specifically in bilateral motor coordination and rhythmic weight shifting. As these skills improve, the client’s gait will improve.
"Many of my clients have underlying sensory processing problems. In order to help them develop their gross and fine motor skills, it is necessary to address the sensory systems also. In the clinic, we often move from one piece of dynamic equipment to another to get to that optimal state where a client can try their movements. For example, from a trampoline to a swing to a tilt board. During a hippotherapy session, the 3 dimensions of the horse’s movement provide all those sensory sensations in a regulated way. So, the client begins to immediately regulate their sensory systems and can begin their activities right away."
-Karen L. McPhail, MOT OTR HPCS, Hockley Site Director and Director of Therapy, SIRE, Houston's Therapeutic Equestrian Centers
"My child is 4 years old and has been receiving various forms of therapy since he was 8 months. We have been doing hippotherapy for roughly 2 years. It is always impossible to pinpoint which therapy is doing what when you have multiple, simultaneous therapies, but my gut has always been that the hippotherapy is the most effective. All you need to do is see my son on the horse and recognize the balance and strengthening skills that are being challenged to come to this conclusion.
"We travel over an hour for this service and this is a testament to how effective we think this is. In addition, the setting, interaction with beautiful, strong animals and incredible staff and volunteers make it an amazing experience."
- from the American Hippotherapy Association website.
"We were referred for hippotherapy by an occupational therapist in our childhood development service program. Hippotherapy has helped Stefan develop his balance and coordination, build his self-confidence and learn an appreciation of horses and the outdoors. This setting seems to relax him like no other therapy is able to. He knows the drive to the center and can’t wait to hop on the horse once he arrives.
"We have seen different results due to hippotherapy than through other traditional therapies. Besides Stefan’s new joy of horses, animals (ducks and cats) and the calm outdoor setting, he has improved his attentiveness, his willingness to follow directions and his interaction with other children and adults. The therapists are obviously well trained and selected as I’ve never seen an angry child or a child so frustrated that he was made to ride a horse or asked to do something that he didn’t want to do. Stefan is very comfortable with this staff and is confident that they are always looking out for his best interest so that he may be rehabilitated to his full potential. As parents, we are glad to see a staff so dedicated to the children and adults receiving therapy. They truly love their jobs.
"Hippotherapy has helped our family to learn that the alternative therapies that are available do work and are enjoyable for Stefan. We’ve seen many families that come together at events at our center and are able to bond with them and discuss the milestones that our children have achieved and hope to achieve."
- Jim, father of Stefan, from the American Hippotherapy Association website.
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