Benefits

What can my child benefit from this activity? 

The word 'Equi-therapy' has been taken from the Latin word Equine or Equitation also meaning horse or horse riding, so jointly meaning 'Equine facilitated movement therapy'.  Our therapy process includes teaching them horse riding skills.



Horse riding three dimensional movement stimulate the vestibular system and has a influence on:

1.       Balance

2.       Postural and equilibrium responses
         
          Postural background
- These adjustments are especially important when children works at a table or during therapeutic horse-riding
          – the trunk is not usually moved when the head is moved.  When the body is moved, the child sometimes falls from the horse, as he
          feels “heavy and stiff”.  These children struggle with tasks such as “hopscotch” or horse-riding.

          Co-contraction
- Children with vestibular problems have poor co-contraction and the muscles on one side of the body do not move in
          unison with muscles of the other side.  This result in poor balance.

          Protective extension
– Children with poor body and gravity sensation make no effort to extend the hand and arms when falling.

3.       Muscle tone

If the vestibular system is not effective, a low muscle tone is present and the child tires easily.  This can also be the reason that many children with learning problems have difficulty in sitting straight up and holding the head up while writing.

Horse riding is the only sport having a positive effect on low as well as heightened muscle tone.  The rhythmic movement of the pelvis will destroy spastic patterns and neck, back and body or trunk control will improve. 

4.       Eye and neck muscles

Children with learning problems as a result of poor functioning of the vestibular system, often have problems with eye movements.

The vestibular system is also responsible for keeping a stable picture during movement.  To make this possible the vestibular system must make continuous adjustments in the neck and eye muscles to compensate for the movement of the head.  Without these adjustments is difficult for the child at school, to copy work form the black board into his notebook. 

5.       Eye movements / vision

Vision is influenced by the stimulation of the neck muscles.  Smooth coordinated eye movements are essential to reading and other academic tasks.

6.       Bilateral motor coordination

This refers to the ability of the child to co-ordinate movements of one side of the body as well as both simultaneously.  Just by holding the reins and controlling the horse the children needs a lot of bilateral integration.

7.       Laterality

An unique program is again develop to work on the horse, stimulating right-left discrimination, body image, concept and scheme.  It is also important to work here on crossing of the midline and trunk-rotation.

8.       Praxis

This relate to the ability to plan and execute skilled or non-habitual motor tasks.

9.       Eye-hand coordination

We need fine muscle control and eye-hand coordination to write in the school. A definite program again is followed on the horse to work on this.  It is however important that one first work on shoulder stability on the horse.

10.   Hemispheric integration

Good hemisphere integration is of the utmost importance in the learning process.  In order to keep balance on the horse, muscles strength of both sides of the body is required, and both hemispheres are involved.

11.   Speech, language, auditory perception

One of the three vestibular canals is an auditory receptor.  Speech development should therefore be one of the first aspects to be influenced positively in a horse-riding therapy program.

12.   Spatial perception

The rhythmic three-dimensional movement of the horse evokes balance reactions through the passive shifting of the rider’s gravity and this can influence the development of special perception.  Children having problems with spatial perception sometimes reverse letters and number.

13.   Overactive/ under-active vestibular system

Because there is close cooperation with the vestibular system, active behavior is caused by an overactive vestibular system and passive behavior by an under-active vestibular system.

14.   Academic performance

There is a clear link between horse-riding and its influence on academic performance.

15.   Self-image/emotions

A child’s mental attitude will also improve with horse-riding therapy.  Over and above developing the potential of the individual’s feelings of self-confidence, self-esteem, and independence are nurtured as seen in current practice.  Horse-riding also teaches self-discipline, daring, control and techniques which are applicable in many other situations.