We all know that animals provide significant, positive, therapeutic impact both physically and mentally. A variety of animals are often used for therapy services, but many would say there’s just something extra special about horses.
Therapeutic horseback riding actually dates back to fifth century B.C. Greece as a means to rehabilitate wounded soldiers. It was also used by the English during WW I and eventually became a more prevalent means of therapy in the U.S. in the late 1960’s. (1)
Over the years, studies on equine therapy have shown improvements in everything from balance, pain, and muscle stiffness, to improved sense of self-worth, impulse control, emotional management and socialization skills. (2)
Typically, patients are evaluated based on their individual needs and a specific method of therapy is selected. The method may be a form of equine psychotherapy, horseback riding, or hippotherapy. Hippotherapy is based on the repetitive and rhythmic sensory input provided specifically through the pelvis of the rider. The various gait patterns of the horse can provide different levels of input which can improve sensory processing and neurological function of riders. (3) Hippotherapy can be a very effective healing tool for children with special needs including but not limited to down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy, brain injuries and autism. (4)
Eastern North Carolina is very fortunate to offer four nearby options for Equine Therapy, not to mention a variety of private behavioral health professionals offering this service. What a unique and fun format for rehabilitation, therapy and healing!
Hope Reins – Raleigh, NC 27615
Helping Horse Therapeutic Riding Program – Raleigh, NC 27613
Horses for Hope – Raleigh, NC 27603
Horse and Buddy – New Hill, NC