Hmmmm what the heck is hippotherapy?
I bet this term is fairly unfamiliar to you. The word hippos means horse in Greek…
…so as you can imagine it’s the use of horses as a therapeutic and rehabilitative tool.
Before I begin I want to point out that there is a difference between hippotherapy and simple therapeutic riding. The modalities are NOT synonymous and I will clarify this a bit later.
A therapist that practices Hippotherapy uses the movement of a horse to treat functional issues and disabilities in patients with neuromotor and sensory dysfunction.
The treatment is used as part of an integrated program to help patients reach goals that might have been insurmountable otherwise.
Horses and humans have an incredible bond. The simple act of spending time with a horse is tremendously healing. This has everything to do with their empathy, their lack of judgment and ability to be mindful or “stay present”.
Hippotherapy goes one step further by using this very positive relationship to help rehabilitate patients. When clients are placed on a horse, a trained therapist analyses their responses to create a treatment plan.
The horses are actually used similarly to how a physiotherapist uses a ball…
…but they are way more interesting! Let’s face it, horses are a super cool interactive partner. The best part is, once trust is established, patients are able to push through boundaries they thought were impossible.
“As riders get to know their horses, they attune to them—they learn both mental and somatic (physical) ways of acting versus their partner,” said Anita Maurstad, PhD, professor and researcher in the Department of Cultural Sciences in the Tromsø University Museum at the University of Tromsø in Norway. “Horses, too, attune to their humans; thus, co-being is a good analytical concept for speaking about these aspects of the relationship.” Study: Some Horses, Riders Have ‘Co-Being’ Relationship, TheHorse.Com
Hippotherapy provides a foundation to improve sensory processing and neurological function in people who have deficits in the following areas:
It's pretty amazing to see the results unfold.
The rhythmic pattern of riding a horse helps to develop balance, strength and endurance in a fun and nurturing environment. It's a win, win as the horses love it too.
While we don't offer Hippotherapy at the Legend Ranch, I have great respect for practitioners.
If you HAVE heard of Hippotherapy perhaps you think it’s the same as therapeutic riding. It’s important that people understand there are VERY pointed differences between these two therapies. They are NOT the same.
Therapeutic riding requires a patient to simply learn about a horse and how to ride it. It also explores the benefits of maintaining that relationship emotionally and physically.
This is where Legend Equine Assisted Psychotherapy excels. We offer Equine Therapy to help our patients move through tough phases in their lives.
Hippotherapy, on the other hand, is centered around the repetitive movement of the horse. Properly licensed and credentialed speech therapists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists conduct it. Hippotherapy is also a part of a greater integrated program that has been approved by a physician.
Therapeutic riding is an equine-assisted activity for the purpose of contributing positively to the cognitive, physical, emotional and social well-being of individuals with special needs. Therapeutic riding provides benefits in the areas of health, education, sport and recreation & leisure. Learn About Therapeutic Riding, Pathintl.org
Legend Equine Assisted Psychotherapy doesn't currently offer Hippotherapy, although we think it's a fantastic way to help clients.
...and as an aside, the mental health community is moving away from using the term Hippotherapy in connection with behavioural or psychiatric disorders, which is our main focus.
We have however recently hired Jane Jenkins who is familiar with Hippotherapy and its usefulness in pasture. So if you are interested in finding a practitioner I am sure she could point you in the right direction.
Please welcome Jane who is a Midwest native of Michigan.
She has lived on the Palouse for 3 years and holds a Master’s Degree of Arts in Counseling Psychology from Assumption College.
Jane also holds licensure as an LMHCA in the state of Washington and has been a PATH certified therapeutic riding instructor since 2013.
She is in her third year of doctoral studies in Counseling Psychology at Washington State University, where her specialty area is Human-Animal Interaction research, specifically related to equine-inclusive therapies.
We are excited to announce that Jane’s focus is on trauma-informed interventions for children and she has extensive research coordination and design experience. This will be a great resource for future research and programming at Legend Equine Assisted Psychotherapy.
Jane is the fifth of seven children and is driven to improve the emotional well-being of youths and their families in our community!
We are so thrilled that she is joining the Legend team!
Moscow, Idaho Address:3320 Hwy 8Moscow ID 83843
Legend Equine Psychotherapy Program (“LEAP”) is an alternative approach to traditional counselling. Patients gain insight into their behaviour through their relationship with therapeutic horses. A unique bond between horses and humans exists that encourages growth and connection. When talk therapy just isn’t enough, equine therapy makes inroads and breaks downs walls.