Hippotherapy: treating horses of disabled children with cerebral palsy and autism, reviews

  • What's this? Indications Contraindications
  • principles of therapeutic action
  • Therapeutic effects
  • main stages of the program
  • centers in Russia
  • lessons cost
  • Reviews
  • Tips

parents Let's imagine a horse running on the field. What words can characterize this picture? Freedom, confidence, grace, beauty, speed. .. This list goes on.

This picture causes mostly positive emotions in the case when we are just observers. If there is an opportunity to touch nature with the help of horses, there are even more positive feelings!

Adult people squeal with delight when they first sit on a horse. And what about children and, especially, "special" children. What a barrage of emotions is experienced by a small person who is limited in physical abilities? He does not know how to walk, but he himself sits on a horse - this is unbelievably happy!

In ancient times, humanity was much c

loser to nature than it is now. It is known that even then they resorted to treatment with animals, and they healed! Many methods of zoomedicine originated in the time of Hippocrates and have survived to this day, but popularity is gaining only now. Each has its own characteristics and strengths. Consider one of them, hippotherapy.

What's this?

Hippotherapy is one of the most effective methods of treating animals with horses. It is aimed at combating many diseases.

Some call hippotherapy therapeutic horse riding. Yes, the main effect of the treatment is achieved precisely due to the exercises performed on the horse. But it can not be said that these two concepts are absolutely identical. After all, an important condition for healing is not only horse riding, but also simple communication with the horse, caring for it.

the treatment of an integrated approach: a person warms up and develops the muscles, sitting on a horse, gets crazy charge of energy and a great pleasure to communicate with these animals. Indications

most cases fighting diseases such as cerebral palsy, and various disorders of the musculoskeletal system as well as autism.

Another indication is:

  • Scoliosis of 1,2 degree or other disorders of the spine;
  • Various disorders of joints;
  • Down Syndrome;
  • Poliomyelitis;
  • Neuroses and other diseases of the nervous system;
  • Hearing impairment;
  • Visual impairment;
  • Speech disorders;
  • Malfunctions of the sensory organs;
  • Strokes;
  • Sclerosis;
  • Overweight;
  • Delay in mental and physical development.

Sometimes adults with asthma, chronic bronchitis, diseases of the cardiovascular system hippotherapy prescribed in combination with other treatments. Classes horse create the effect of intensive training, but at the same time, are very gentle, which eliminates the risk of side reactions and overvoltage when these diseases. Also sometimes hippotherapy is used in the treatment of alcoholism and drug dependence.

It is known that during wars they were treated with horses. Having suffered a trauma in the battle, they accelerated rehabilitation with the help of riding a horse and, I must say, achieved success.

And the case of a girl with polio, and cured with hippotherapy, made a real sensation. She not only recovered after 9 years of classes, but also received a silver medal in the Paralympic Games.


But as with every kind of treatment, hippotherapy has some contraindications. These include:

  • Epilepsy;
  • Severe forms of diseases of the nervous system;
  • Allergy to horse hair;
  • Osteoporosis( increased brittleness of bones);
  • Osteomyelitis( infectious inflammation of bone tissue);
  • Hemophilia;
  • Scoliosis of 3,4 degree.

As in cases of healing by other animals, such as dogs or dolphins, the fear of a horse is contraindicated. The instructor should help to find a person contacting a four-legged doctor.

And it often happens that by the end of the session the patient, afraid of the horse, does not want to part with it.

Principles of therapeutic action

Hippotherapy is a unique method of treatment. It affects the body in a complex way. Two main principles can be distinguished:

  • Physical( directly impact of a horse on a rider when performing exercises or simply moving a horse);
  • Psychological, or emotional( psychological unloading when dealing with a horse).

The motive impulses that the animal transmits to the rider are fundamental to the treatment. The horse has a specific movement stroke, a special move, similar to the course of the person. Insensibly for himself, the patient makes an effort. After all, he needs to strain his muscles so as not to fall, keep his balance, coordinate his movements. Sitting on a horse, the rider has almost all muscle groups working, those that are almost not used under normal conditions are affected.

As a rule, hippotherapy is performed without a saddle, because the body temperature of a horse is higher than the temperature of a person's body. Thus, there is a massage of the already heated muscles, and this greatly enhances the effect of treatment.

As for the positive emotional effect, its significance can not be overestimated. The child feels much more confident while being near the horse. Children with cerebral palsy disease can do well without strollers and crutches on horseback, and this is a very powerful self-affirmation for them.

Communicating with a horse and caring for it are very useful for children. This teaches their kindness, sensitivity, sense of responsibility, develops the ability to trust. Some children even can share secrets with these animals. They learn to listen to their partner and be more attentive. They leave a sense of aggression and anxiety.

Often, small patients do not realize that they are being treated, horse riding is perceived by them as entertainment, so there is no sense of resistance, and as a result, the treatment is quicker to bear fruit.

Therapeutic effects of

The effectiveness of hippotherapy has been proven for a long time and is supported by the results obtained during the treatment. Of course, in difficult cases it is necessary to work for years, and this is a big work. But it's worth it. Some patients need more than one session, and you can see visible changes, but this is rare.

There are very serious cases of diseases in disabled children. For example, it is known that muscle tone in children with cerebral palsy is so strong that it is sometimes impossible to probe them and an experienced doctor or masseur.

Horse riding is very relaxing and significantly reduces muscle tone. Plus, it improves blood flow, which also contributes to better mobility and faster saturation of brain cells with oxygen.

The training improves the general physical condition of the patient, relieves spasms, improves coordination of movements. The child is better oriented in space. Well, the psychological factor plays an important role - there is confidence in their abilities.

As for autistic children, here the hippotherapy classes bear only psychological stress. The effect of training is sometimes noticeable immediately. The fact is that the child and the horse interact very closely. This may remind him of friendship.

Thus, a small patient becomes more open to communication, he is left with fears and feelings of anxiety, excitability, isolation, he becomes more attentive, sociable and more trustful, reactions become faster. As a result of treatment, psychological harmony is achieved.

Classes with a horse will help to correct posture. If the degree of the disease is low, all changes of the spine are reversible. Even after some time after the hippotherapy session, the back straightening reflex remains, it simply needs to be maintained.

Abroad, hippotherapy was used earlier, and the list of diseases that are subject to this method of treatment, they have a little more. So, for example, in addition to the above problems, with the help of hippotherapy, obesity and cellulite are treated. The instructor develops a special set of exercises on a horse so that the patient can cope with excess weight.

A horse is an animal very intelligent, possessing a phenomenal memory. She remembers the habits of a person, his gait, gestures, facial expressions, very well feels the emotional state of a person and captures his mood and intonation. Despite its size, the horse is completely predictable for humans. This is the key to success in treatment. Man very easily goes with the horse to contact and trusts her completely.

Hippotherapy is an independent technique. But nevertheless, treatment is better spent in a complex with other procedures. For example, in addition to therapeutic riding sometimes prescribe exercise therapy, the use of therapeutic mud, massage, physiotherapy, etc.

The main stages of the program

Hippotherapy can be done individually or in a group. Periodicity of classes - 1-2 times a week. If the patient is a visitor and undergoes an on-site rehabilitation course, the classes are held daily. The patient, horse, instructor-hippotherapist and horse-racer will be involved in the course of the lessons. The duration of one lesson is 15-45 minutes.

So, what are the main steps involved in treating horses?

  • The first stage is familiarization( or adaptive).N and this stage is studied the medical history, the necessary set of exercises is assigned, the acquaintance with the horse, with the instructor, the child's getting used occurs. The patient can observe, iron the animal, treat it. Then, when the adaptation has passed, you can sit astride and dismount. Usually this stage passes quickly. But some children may need several classes.
  • The second stage is the preparatory( just before the main exercises). At this stage the horse is already set in motion. The child gets used to the course of the horse, learns to stay on horseback, keep his balance, coordinate his movements correctly - the correct landing is formed. Respiratory exercises may be performed.
  • The third stage is the main one. At this stage, the basic exercises that the hippotherapist has prescribed are performed.
  • The fourth stage is final. At this stage, fix the results, correct inaccuracies in the performance of exercises.

Exercises can be performed in different positions: lying on your stomach, on your back, sitting facing the horse's neck, sitting with your back. The instructor may require exercises with closed eyes when the horse is standing, walking or trotting. This can be a variety of slopes, changing the position on the horse, throwing the ball, various exercises for flexibility and other movements. The complexity and nature of the exercises depends on the patient's illness.

It is understood that the horse that is used for treatment should be specially trained, calm, ungainly and benevolent. Almost every animal can be prepared for training. In hippotherapy, only horses of "hot" blood are avoided. For example, Arab purebreds, Akhal-Teke, purebred horses genetically laid unrestrained movement. Therefore, it is impossible to put a child on such an animal.

Centers in Russia

Hippotherapy in Russia began to develop since 1991.Until that time, we simply did not have any specialists. Now there are educational institutions where you can master the specialty of the hippotherapy instructor.

In Russia, in almost every region, this method is practiced. There are both large rehabilitation centers and small equestrian sports clubs that provide services for horse treatment. Sometimes on the basis of sanatoriums that accept people with various diseases of the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system, there are horse-therapists. Especially developed hippotherapy in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Rostov, Kazan, Ufa, Sevastopol, Saransk, Kursk, Krasnoyarsk, Yekaterinburg.

Cost of lessons

Prices for hippotherapy vary from 400 to 1000 rubles per class. It depends on the qualifications of the specialists, the duration of the classes, the popularity and popularity of the institution, its location. In large cities, of course, prices are higher.

There are several organizations in Russia that are engaged in medical horse riding for free.

For example, since 2007 the St. Petersburg charitable organization "Green World of Childhood" has been holding absolutely free classes for disabled children. Employees observe the results of each group obtained during the lessons, and keep statistics.

In the same year 2007 another charitable organization "Reins of Life", started its activity in the city of Alushta, the Republic of Crimea.

More information about the organization "Reins of Life" you can learn from the following video.


Not all doctors trust such a technique as hippotherapy. After all, it refers to non-traditional types of treatment. But it has proven itself well for a long time. The main indicator is the feedback of parents who have "special" children.

People talk about the changes that have occurred with their children after practicing medical horseback riding. They note that the motor activity and general physical condition of the child improve, the motor skills develop. For those who can walk, the gait becomes more confident.

Many children who do not understand whether objects are far away or close, completely lose the problem of their correlation in space due to occupation. At the same time, a child could constantly touch an object or hit it, incorrectly assessing its remoteness.

Those children who were completely closed to others, begin to communicate and even smile. Absolutely non-contact children willingly run to classes for four-legged doctors.

People with back pain celebrate the relief of symptoms or their complete disappearance.

Children who have completed the full course of hippotherapy, do not want to part with their four-legged friends, because they are very attached to these animals and the positive emotions that they give.

Even adults say that talking to the horse, you forget about all the problems.

The disadvantages can be attributed to the high cost of training, because not everyone can afford to give a considerable amount of money for several months and even years. Also, some people find it difficult to find nearby centers involved in this type of rehabilitation. They are mainly concentrated in large cities.

Tips for parents

So, did you decide that your child can be helped by horse treatment? Just weigh all the "Pros" and "Against".Be sure to consult a doctor, make sure that none of the contraindications are relevant to your case. If there are no obstacles, then you can start classes.

Read, find out from friends where their children were engaged, whether they achieved any results. When you come to the club, ask the instructor about his education and qualification.

Well, one more piece of advice: trust! Trust the horse and the instructor, help the child in everything as needed. Remember, studying on a horse is a lot of work, although it brings pleasure.

And it is also worth noting that hippotherapy can not completely cure a child, if he has birth defects, can not return missing parts of the body, but any other treatment will not cope with this task. But to alleviate the condition of the patient and greatly improve the picture of hippotherapy is possible.

If, after birth, any injuries or changes in the body have occurred that lead to disability, horses can completely heal you. The main thing is to be patient and believe!

How hippotherapy helps with autism, see the video below.