Did you know that horse therapy has been practised since the ancient Greeks? Since that time, it was already known that riding a horse was an activity with the ability to prevent and treat various problems, both body and mind.
Therapeutic riding, began to be practised in Canada and the United States in 1900 and in 1969 the first expert centre for this type of practice was established, as well as NARHA, the group in charge of officially inspecting these therapies.
Therefore, equine therapy for children with autism and other disorders is recognised as a complementary method for their recovery. Further details will be given below.
What is equine therapy?
Equine therapy is a type of therapy, both mental and physical, where the horse is the main tool. The latter is used to support people with disabilities on their way to a more fulfilling life.
Therapeutic riding needs pedagogy, sport, psychology and medicine to be effective; therefore an equine therapist must have knowledge in all these areas as well as equestrian practice.
Equine therapy for autism
Humans have been able to create bonds with animals and one of the strongest has been with horses. This relationship has been harnessed in equine therapy for children with autism, described as a condition that affects the brain, so that a person’s perception of their environment and people is adversely affected.
Children with autism may show several symptoms such as being too absorbed in an activity and forgetting about reality, learning problems, inappropriate behaviour and even difficulties with coordination.
Therefore, equestrian therapy represents an alternative to improve the quality of life of these children, as it has proven to strengthen the physical, emotional, social and cognitive aspects. Of course, the horse chosen for these therapies must have a friendly and calm character, ensuring children are not frightened and are calm.
In this way, the equine therapy in children with autism starts training the strength, which is quite reduced with this disorder, together with the muscle tone. The child has to make an effort to keep the balance on the horse, as well as to control it during the activity: playing games and taking different directions, exercising the psychomotor coordination.
In addition, this type of therapy offers many benefits in the sensory sense, as it generates an activation of balance and appreciation of the environment; including smells and touch. On the other hand, riding involves the child in tasks where following guidelines is paramount; such as combing the tail, touching the mane or even just talking to the horse.
All of the above is capable of enhancing the development of communication skills and following instructions. With regard to the emotional side, it favours a good management of emotions and self-esteem.
Likewise, it helps children to develop a sense of cooperation, stimulation of feelings and towards achievement through interaction with the horse. What is beneficial about this is that the child can demonstrate it in their way of relating to their parents and other people.
Importance of equine therapy
Equine therapy for children with autism and other conditions has a great relevance in the treatment of conditions that previously did not get the attention they deserved. The bond created between horse and patient is so powerful that it improves spatial-temporal orientation, neuromotor coordination and the restoration of self-confidence.
As if all the above mentioned points were not enough, the therapy with horses strengthens our self-control (something that children with autism must learn) and allows a better family integration, as the family is supporting the child.
Un punto importante a destacar es que un técnico de equinoterapia puede ser un psicólogo, un profesional de la salud, un traumatólogo, un técnico de disciplina ecuestre, un terapeuta ocupacional o un profesor de gimnasia.
En Equspaddock estamos encantados con todo lo que la equinoterapia puede ofrecer a los niños con discapacidades, por lo que contamos con el mejor equipo ecuestre disponible para la mejor experiencia.