Hippotherapy is a form of physiotherapy that uses the motion of the walking horse to provide therapeutic movement to the rider.
Sessions are under the direction of a physiotherapist specifically trained in this method of treatment. The horse is led by a handler and the person receiving treatment is not actively controlling the horse. Instead they may carry out a series of exercises or just gain benefit from the movement of the horse.
Hippotherapy can help with strengthening and stretching muscles and with balance.
Therapeutic horse riding involves teaching riding skills to people with disabilities. The rider will still get therapeutic benefits, but will be more actively riding the horse.
A meta-analysis reviews eight previous studies of hippotherapy and therapeutic horse riding in people with different conditions. Three of the studies were in MS. Individual studies suggested benefit for a range of issues including balance, posture, gait and quality of life, though pooled data from all of the studies showed less clear cut outcomes.
- American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation 2017 Mar 1. [Epub ahead of print] Summary Therapeutic effects of horseback riding interventions: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
Last updated: March 2017
Last reviewed: February 2014
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