Animals usually bring to people much more than their simple utility. In the case of horses, on top of their companionship, veterinarians and scientists have carried out studies to develop a therapy that helps to heal the human body, both physically and mentally. One of these is called equine therapy or hippotherapy. It basically has to do with the movements of a horse, its walking and also its expression and behavior.
With equine therapy, they have achieved many great results for treating children with psychological problems or people with difficulty developing certain movements. Equine therapy does not consist in teaching the sick person how to ride the horse. It is based on the proper placement of the patient in each particular case, in a way that would stimulate their body and facilitate rehabilitation. The first to realize the therapeutic effects of the horse were the Greeks, as riding at the time was a very popular sport which also toned the body and boosted their spirits.
Later, diverse studies showed results that riding horses was beneficial for improving movements and equilibrium in those who practiced it. Therefore, many scientists used this natural medicine to combat motor, psychological and even neurological illness. The greatest rise in this therapy occurred during the 60s in Germany, where it was demonstrated by fact that therapy with horses was effective in the treatment of many illnesses. Equine therapy consists in the integration of the horse and person in one being. The relationship that exists between the movement of the animal and the response of the sick person is the basis of this natural medicine.
In people with motor difficulties, a horse trot is essential as it produces sensations very similar to what humans feel walking, so that a sick person can re-familiarize themselves with this movement. The horse trot has several varieties, depending on the force or speed of the animal, therefore the responses produced in people are varied and speed recovery. Equine walking movements produce vibrations that also transmit through the medulla, with a frequency of approximately 180 oscillations per minute. The brain would receive the same information if the person were walking. It is therefore essential to ride without a saddle, so that the contact with the animal is complete and the person receives the heat coming from the animal as well as the movement in the legs and pelvis. The horse is the only animal that produces this neurological stimulation.
For loved ones of the sick patients, equine therapy can also be very useful to keep their spirits up. Another common application, on top of improving motor skills and balance, lies in people with communicative or behavioral problems, overall in children and youth. Some of the illnesses treated by equine therapy are: Multiple Sclerosis, nutritional disorders, some types of disabilities, brain trauma, blindness or deafness, intellectual difficulties, paralysis, behavioral problems, Down's Syndrome, and Autism, among others. This form of natural medicine has also been demonstrated to work successfully in cases of drug addiction or people with difficulties in social adaptation.
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