What is equine therapy?

Horse helping a child with special needs

La equinoterapiaAlso known as hippotherapy or equestrian assisted therapy, it is a way of helping people who have special needs or who, for whatever reason, have withdrawn into themselves and have trouble communicating.

Although it is still considered as a pseudo therapy, more and more health professionals are using domesticated and trained horses to help their patients; in fact, to check it, just search for equine therapy centers on Google and see that many will come up. But, What does it really consist of?

What techniques are used in equine therapy?

Depending on the problem that the person has and what objective is to be achieved, some techniques or others will be included in order to help him. For example:

  • Hippotherapy: It takes advantage of the therapeutic principles of the horse to treat people with disabilities through the body heat of the equine, rhythmic impulses and three-dimensional movement. These sessions are led by a physical therapist.
  • Therapeutic horse riding: the simple act of touching a horse can make us feel very good. Thanks to this, patients can gradually solve learning and adaptation problems that they have, since they will be more motivated, attentive and focused. In addition, tactile, visual, auditory and olfactory sensitivity will be stimulated, thus helping to increase their capacity for independence.
  • Adapted horse riding: it is aimed at people who have a disability but who practice horse riding as a recreational or sports option.

What are the benefits of equine therapy?

The benefits are many and varied. TO psychological and cognitive level, are these:

  • Increases self-confidence
  • Work memory
  • Improves self-esteem and self-control of emotions

A communication and language level, these:

  • Improves gestural and oral communication
  • Improves vocalization

A psychomotor level, these:

  • Improves balance, coordination, reflexes
  • Slowly reduce abnormal movement patterns
  • Strengthens the muscles

Equine therapy and autism

People with autism are people with a psychological disorder characterized by the concentration they put on their own inner world, thus losing contact with external reality. For them, doing therapy with horses is a way to regain (or gain) self-esteem and autonomy, thus reducing social anxiety.

In addition, as the horse does not have social contingencies that humans could have, autistic children and adults find it much easier to relate to it because they feel that they dominate the situation and are not afraid.

Equine therapy and Down syndrome

Equine therapy has many benefits for patients

Image - Flickr

People with Down Syndrome are people who suffer from a genetic disorder that prevents them from relating normally. They are very prone to depression, mania, and psychotic disorders. One way to avoid them is to help them through horse therapy, since it will make them feel happy They will have a reason to smile and to relate to others, thus finding more reasons to move on.

What are the characteristics of a therapy horse?


Horse it has to be a healthy and strong animal, with a rectangular shape so that two people can ride on its back. This must also be muscular, as this will be resistant. In addition, the movement of the walk and trot has to be rhythmic and regular, at more than 85 steps per minute.

The height must be between 1m and 1,70m so that the person can move both vertically and horizontally without problems.

Behavior and personality

A therapy horse has to be submissive, calm and docile. It is also very important that you show confidence in the rider, so he should treat his animal with respect, patience and affection, always using positive training.

Likewise, it is necessary that the therapist and the horse establish a good bond, so before starting therapy you should spend time with him. In this way, it will not be difficult for the equine to do what he has to do so that the patient can benefit from equine therapy.

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