How Can Kids with Cerebral Palsy Benefit from Therapeutic Horseback Riding?



Therapeutic Horseback riding or hippotherapy is a rather unconventional yet effective therapy used to treat a variety of physical, mental, and psychological ailments for centuries. But do you know this peculiar therapeutic horseback riding Virginia program is gaining popularity as an effective treatment to help kids with Cerebral Palsy (CP)? Hippotherapy has shown significant potential to enhance endurance power, muscle strength, and mental strength in kids with the disability. Besides this, horse riding therapy also works towards building confidence and a sense of well-being amongst such kids.

So, let’s dive into the details of how Hippotherapy benefits kids affected with CP.

Understanding Hippotherapy and Cerebral Palsy

As the name suggests, equine therapy involves sessions with trained horses. The kids are made to interact with the horses like feed them, pet them, and communicate with them. However, the significant part of the therapy is disabled horseback riding. The kids are encouraged to ride on the horse in a controlled environment.

Therapeutic horseback riding therapy is never used as a stand-alone treatment for Cerebral Palsy. Instead, it’s used as a supportive treatment to the traditional methods. In most cases, hippotherapy is mixed with speech therapy, physical therapy, or occupational therapy.

The primary objectives of hippotherapy for cerebral palsy kids are,

  • Enhance body balance and flexibility
  • Improve fine motor control skills
  • Strengthen the physical capabilities of children

What’s worth noting here is that not all horses can be used to give such therapies. Only highly-trained and specialized horses are fit for the job. Such horses are gentle, sensitive to the needs of the patients, and patient. These horses also undergo specialized training like not to get anxious at children’s screams and shouts, and when to stop the ride.

How Do Children With Cerebral Palsy Benefit?

In hippotherapy sessions for kids with cerebral palsy, the patients are encouraged to take part in physical activities with specialized horses. The session takes place in a safe environment, which is monitored by a professional. Throughout the session, the horse moves in a repetitive motion and tempo. The movements made by the horse challenge the kids to maintain their balance and control while riding the horse.

The therapy room is usually made visually appealing by adding visual stimulates and interactive elements. This makes the session highly appealing and engaging for kids. This helps kids complete the challenges and tasks with ease.

Over a period of time, children may learn 

  • To keep their balance on the horse
  • Direct the horse
  • Keep their body upright on the horse
  • Use the reins to turn the horse

Apart from gaining physical strength, children also learn relationship building lessons, responsibility, and other social skills. Such therapies have shown to boost confidence in such kids.

With a well-planned and professionally executed hippotherapy, children with cerebral palsy gradually scale through the challenges and reach their goals.

In children with CP, hippotherapy can help in, 

  • Building as well as boosting overall strength
  • Improve core strength
  • Enhance balance
  • Maintain ideal body posture
  • Motor skills
  • Cognitive skills
  • Enhance communication skills
  • Development of sensory skills
  • Social skills