Every client is unique and we at Sensory Kidzone believe that we need to be adaptable enough to treat every child in their preferred activity. We have therefore included hippotherapy in our service repertoire. For the child who will benefit from the input from the horse’s movement or the child who is more drawn to the horse than the therapy room, we will recommend hippotherapy.
What is Hippotherapy?
Hippotherapy is the use of the horse’s movement as a platform for intervention. The horse as a therapeutic partner is unique because the children build a relationship with the horse which aids in motivating the child. The main aim is to maximise the transference of horse movement to the client and use games or activities as a motivator and in some instances to challenge the client.
History of Hippotherapy
Although the horse has been viewed as having therapeutic benefit since the days of Hippocrates, it is only since the 1960’s that hippotherapy, as we know it today, was developed. The American Hippotherapy Association was formed in 1992 after which certification courses were developed. Since then, research and treatment has developed worldwide. Equine Assisted Therapy Association of South Africa (EATASA) was established in 2010 to develop service standards and facilitate hippotherapy training in South Africa.
What are the possible benefits of hippotherapy?
- Postural control and balance
- Range of movement
- Muscle strength
- Sitting posture
- Multi-sensory input (vestibular, proprioception)
- Increased alertness to aid attention / focus
Special Considerations and Contraindications
Horse riding is considered an extreme sport because the horse has a mind of its own. Therefore, we need to take the utmost caution when deciding to enter the client into the hippotherapy program. Below is a table of conditions which will require special precautions as well as a list of contra-indications for which we will not allow hippotherapy to continue.
- Spinal fusion
- Spinal instability
- Tethered cord syndrome
- Indwelling catheter
- Active Mental health disorder (i.e. suicidal, fire setting, animal abuse)
- Acute herniated disc
- Chiari II Malformation
- Atlantoaxial Instability
- Coxa Arthrosis
Hippotherapy at Sensory Kidzone
Sensory Kidzone is privileged to have Rocking-A Riding School across the road from our offices where we rent horses per session. This makes the logistics on a rainy day much easier as we can move therapy sessions indoors. Due to the intense physical and sensory input provided by the hippotherapy session, the sessions are limited to 30 minutes.
Referral Process for Hippotherapy
- Contact Sensory Kidzone with referral information
- Receive and complete client information forms
- Schedule initial meeting with the therapist
- Identify suitable horse and commence hippotherapy