From the Greek word hippo’s meaning horse, so translates as ‘treatment with the help of a horse’. Hippotherapy is not just ‘horse riding’ it is using a soft fleece to sit direct on the horse it allows the horses warm and movement to help relax tight muscles and activate muscles of the trunk in a rhythmical pattern. The movement of the horse replicates human gait pattern and allows the rider to experience posterior and anterior pelvic tilt, rotational pelvic movements and side flexion of the pelvis.
It allows us to use a variety of positions on the horse such as facing backwards and sideways and lying prone to help strengthen the child. Hippotherapy is best undertaken by a physiotherapist who is fully qualified in hippotherapy to consider the correct pony, gait pattern and positioning of the child so that the child has maximum effect.
Hippotherapy is used in conjunction with ‘mainstream’ physiotherapy. It allows a child to have fun, form a bond with the pony and feel it is not all ‘stretches’ or ‘core stability’ work. Conditions that can be modified with hippotherapy are abnormal tone, impaired balance reactions, postural asymmetry, decreased mobility and many others. The child needs to have some reasonable head control and be able to sit with support, to gain the most from hippotherapy as it allows us to put them in a variety of positions.
At Fudgephysio we have access to two mechanical horse simulators that have up to 6D movements that replicate an actual horse. Lateral movement in walk and trot adds to the therapeutic action of the horse improving core stability, balance and co-ordination. Its a controlled way that the child or adult can experience the movements and even go faster speeds. We are able to sit on with the child if their need additional support with their head or trunk.
This is indoors so can be used any time, especially during the winter months.
One simulator lets the child see surround screens of where their riding or jumping, this means that they can have all the core movements of the horse and have great fun. We can even combine the simulator with other activities like throwing, reaching and boxing if we need to work on co-ordination or crossing midline.