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Hippotherapy – treatment with horses


Horse-riding, in addition to being a dynamic activity and pleasure, is also a treatment strategy that can be beneficial for health.

The method of rehabilitation through medical riding is called hippotherapy. Hippotherapy is a form of physical, occupational and speech therapy that uses equine (horse) movement to develop and enhance neurological and physical functioning by channeling the movement of the horse.

Hippotherapy is built on the concept that the individual’s neuromuscular development is enhanced when their body make adjustments to the gait, tempo, rhythm, repetition and cadence of a horse’s movement.

Hippotherapy has been used to treat patients with neurological or other disabilities, such as autism, cerebral palsy, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, head injury, stroke, spinal cord injury, behavioral disorders and psychiatric disorders.

Horseback riding provides effective, and sensory stimulation for its rider through variable, rhytmic, and repetitive movements of the horse. The movement of the horse mimics the normal movements of the human pelvis during walking. Thus, hippotherapy improves balance, mobility, and posture.

Based on the concept that humans with physical challenges can benefit from both learned and spontaneous reactions while riding a horse, hippotherapy was conceived in the 1960s and used primarily in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland as a companion to more established treatments.

Hippotherapy, which was recognized in the United States in the 1980s as a therapy that not only helps patients with neuromuscular dysfunction increase physical strength and cognitive ability, but also offers the individual a chance to take advantage of an enjoyable activity that contributes to a positive therapeutic experience.

Horseback riding triggers a series of complex physical and mental reactions; such as making physical adjustments to maintain proper alignment on the horse. Riders must also plan movements to maintain balance on the horse, and be able to interact with the animal.

Hippotherapy, through equine movement, could help in further developing physical and cognitive abilities (speech and language), including: strength, control, balance, posture, endurance, coordination, sensory integration, understanding of visual cues.

In many equestrian clubs in Azerbaijan, some of the methods of hippotherapy are currently practiced. For classes with the most severe patients, methods are used in which the beneficial effect of horse heat on the patient occurs.

Severe patients are usually put on a horse without a saddle. The patients are also beneficially influenced by the rhythmic fluctuations arising when the horse moves, and the massaging effects of the muscles of her back, close communication with a large, strong and kind animal.

Patients with less serious illnesses usually begin with a therapeutic ride, but for them it is only the initial stage, and after a while, these children are further taught the elements of horse management, and then the rules of riding.

Horse riding has a particularly strong healing effect on children aged 5 to 12 years. It also comprehensively develops the child, makes him bold, dexterous, hardy, resolute and resourceful, strengthens the spirit. No wonder they say that the horse, first of all, heals the soul.

Every year horse tourism in Azerbaijan expands its borders. Many modern tourist centers are being built, new interesting routes are being laid. Azerbaijanis are trying to do everything to make the country more attractive for horseback riding enthusiasts, so that every year they gather here to meet old friends, remember the best trips and learn new routes, join the fairy-tale nature of Azerbaijan, its history and culture.

Azerbaijan is perfectly suited for the development of equestrian tourism. A large number of trails and roads laid in forests and mountains, which in ancient times traveled by horse and carts, allows you to choose very interesting routes and enjoy yourself, both from driving, and the seen beauties, sights and historical monuments.

Equestrian rides are becoming popular not only among tourists who travel to the regions of Azerbaijan, but also in the capital itself, where the number of equestrian clubs increases from year to year. Clubs have an excellent line-up of horses and very good specialists who know all the routes perfectly. The clubs teach riding adults and children. Among the capital equestrian clubs Bina Elite Horse and Polo Club, Omar Equestrian Center and others can be noted.

About Fidan Abdullayeva