All therapy forms operate on a similar arc structure. No matter the type of method, therapy aims to improve people’s lives, enhancing skills and creating life changes. Compared to conventional therapy forms, hippotherapy offers unique features on top of its general practices. From the equipment used to the type of physical activities, hippotherapy sessions vary per client and available resources. So, what is a typical hippotherapy session like?
Real Horses vs. Simulations
There are two main types of hippotherapy: in-office and out-of-office sessions. Out-of-office hippotherapy follows a more traditional hippotherapy structure. These therapists use real horses and include various activities in their training, from actual horse riding to walking the horse on a lead. In-office hippotherapy uses hippotherapy simulator equipment. This version of the therapy recreates the horse riding experience through a simulator, eliminating the need for horses while still gaining all the benefits of equine therapy.
Horse Riding Acclimation
Whether the therapy practice uses real horses or a simulator, the first part of the session focuses on acclimation. For many, getting situated on the horse or device poses challenges, especially for beginners. Once situated in a comfortable straddle, the next goal is to find balance and slowly ease into the movement of the horse’s gait. As with any ride or moving mechanism, movements begin slow and at a gentle pace, allowing the rider to acclimate to the motion, feeling, and overall experience. From there, various skill tasks and specified training get added on.
Added Skill Training Movement
What makes hippotherapy versatile and beneficial for many is one’s ability to accomplish varying tasks while horse riding. On top of the general physical therapy that comes from riding a horse, therapists and clients can add and engage with additional tasks catering to other forms of therapy, like cognitive behavior and speech. Common supplementary exercises often implemented include upper body stretches, passing a ball, bubble blowing, and speech tasks. Each person experiences a slightly different version of hippotherapy as the sessions cater to their specific needs.
A typical hippotherapy session features a ride with added skill-enhancing challenges. Despite being a fairly simple task, hippotherapy still provides many benefits, from skill enhancement to body strengthening. Not only does it cater to physical, cognitive, and speech therapy attributes, but it also offers entertainment and the joys of horse riding.