Thursday, February 3, 2011


The riders taking riding lessons would sometimes mount here. Those receiving hippotherapy did not mount from here because it requires an extreme amount of balance and core coordination and strength.

One of the horses used for hippotherapy or riding.

Isn't this horse beautiful?

This is one of the 'stations' where we asked the kids to pick up toys that were strategically placed or place toys on the ledge.

A saddle used by one of the riders. None of the occupational therapists or other therapists use this saddle.

Instead they used a 'saddle' like this, it's more pliable and wider than a regular saddle. This is a smaller horse that can sometimes be a bit moody, haha. We used this horse and then had to switch to another horse as the rain torment increased.

The horse being led into the loading area. I can't remember the exact name of the area.

This is a smaller horse that can sometimes be a bit moody, haha. We used this horse and then had to switch to another horse as the rain torment increased.

Mounting a child on the horse. It often took 2-3 people to mount one child. The larger the child, the more effort to mount the child.

(For obvious reasons I can't show the faces of the children although I do have permission to post these pictures. I hope you can get an idea of what hippotherapy is like although the pictures aren't as clear as I'd like).

During my pediatric fieldwork, I had the opportunity to observe a hippotherapy session. In case you are unaware, hippotherapy is therapy (in this case performed by an occupational therapist although it can be performed by other professionals as well) that utilizes the movements from the horse. From what I saw, the children LOVED it and really respond well to it.

After mounting the child on the horse we each stood on the side of the horse to hold and balance the child. Up to 4 people helped and we never stood behind the horse. I learned that standing behind the horse causes them a great deal of fear and in response they will kick back. Horses have strong legs and kicking back is never good when a human is behind them, obviously.

We then walked around the stable for 30 minutes. Sometimes we would position the child backwards to work different muscles, or hold toys out in front of them or to the sides asking them to reach for the toys or point to the toys to assess and evaluate their balance, coordination or other performance skills. Sometimes we would stop at a station and ask them to reach and pick up a toy or place it in a bucket or place it down on the ledge.

At one point it started to rain, HARD, with thunder and lightening and the horses freaked out. I was terrified. I know nothing about horses and to see them whining and walking frantically and the stable owners trying to calm them was frightening for me. It was mostly frightening because they are HUGE animals and you don't want to be on the side of one while it's scared. There was a lot of calming action and 'shhh' noises by the occupational therapists and stable owners to calm the horses.

I think hippotherapy is an interesting form of therapy and I highly recommend an observation if you have the opportunity.

1 comment:

  1. Very nice desciption of hippotherapy :)
    Barbara smith