You might think Hippotherapy has something to do with hippos, but it doesn’t. It has to do with horses. “Hippo” means horse in Greek.
You might think Hippotherapy has something to do with hippos, but it doesn’t. It has to do with horses. “Hippo” means horse in Greek. So technically it is horse therapy, or treatment with the help of the horse.
Therapists, like Justine Williams, use the movement of the horse to help the rider. “The focus is on the specific therapeutic needs of the rider using the horses’ movement to achieve them” says Williams. Justine has been working as a hippo therapist for 10 years, and has a degree in conductive education which is a combination of physical, occupational and speech language therapy. She also has a certification in sensory integration. She has loved horses ever since she was a little girl, and decided to join the two together. She works with both kids and adults with different disabilities.
During a session, you will see different activities which are different for each rider. You might see riders stand up on a horse, get up on their hands and knees, sit backwards, or trot sitting sideways with their hands up off the horse. Bailey, a nine year old girl with Down syndrome, is learning how to steer the horse through obstacles. She is also improving on her stomach muscles and coordination. Justine also works with kids with autism, and the goal for them is to make eye contact with the horse, her, and the volunteers. At the end of the session you will see the rider take all the equipment of the horse and brush the horse down.
Williams says,”the main goal in hippotherapy is for the rider to be more active, and independent in their everyday lives. Whatever they learn on a horse, whatever skill they learn, will go with them through their day.”