Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Ken rode his cousin, Acelia's horse, Honey yesterday! We are going to start horseback riding lessons for him--Equine Therapy or Hippotherapy . Acelia was a fabulous instructor and has been Kenneth's best friend since he was a baby. Ken loves Acelia!
One of Ken's teachers at school has a horse farm and is going to start offering this therapy.
Hippotherapy is useful for:
•relaxing tight muscles
•building muscle strength
•sharpening hand/eye coordination
•gaining a sense of body-awareness
•gaining a sense of self-control
•gaining a sense of self-confidence
•improving fine motor coordination
•improving sensory integration
The movement of the horse moves the rider's pelvis in the correct way, while also stimulating other bones, ligaments, and joints. A horse moves a person in more than one way, by tilting, rotating, and moving the rider, which would take a whole session of difficult physical therapy exercises to achieve. Sitting on a horse improves core muscle strength, muscle symmetry, balance, posture, flexibility, circulation, coordination, and breathing (which also makes it easier to speak). The autistic are unable to integrate their senses and understanding of how their bodies relate to external forces and surfaces; hippotherapy can greatly improve an autistic child's sense of their own bodies in space. Hippotherapy frequently does not use a saddle, allowing the child to receive sensations from the horse's movements, which makes a child aware of where parts of his or her body are in relation to the horse.
The excitement of riding encourages speech when the rider wants to communicate with the therapist and the horse. Non-verbal autistic children have suddenly started talking when they use the horse's name or ask the horse to get moving! The therapy provides a solid yet enjoyable period of time for stimulation and exercise.
The benefits experienced by kids with mental and emotional disabilities are also due to the special relationship they develop with the horse. The horses are specifically chosen and trained to be gentle, patient, and calm. The unconditional, non-judgmental aspect of the bond between the horse and the patient encourages the child to form an attachment and interaction with another living being, which is especially difficult for autistic kids to achieve. One of the greatest benefits of this type of therapy is the enjoyment kids get out of it. They don't even realize that they are participating in a therapeutic activity - it's just a lot of fun!