Annually, from November through April, Hoofbeats with Heart provides seasonal hippotherapy services to existing physical therapy and occupational therapy clients in the east valley.
Clients are led by certified, licensed therapists on trained therapy horses to complete preset goals. Hippotherapy is provided once a week for 50-60 minutes.
Benefits of Hippotherapy
A horse’s walk is rhythmic and repetitive which is similar to our human pattern of walking. If a person is having trouble with gait and reciprocal movements, a horse’s gait can help simulate and reconnect the dots in the brain of how a person should walk.
Riding a horse helps to improve balance, posture, and mobility throughout the whole body, especially the core. Each horse’s gait is different and can encourage the person to use different muscles to keep their bodies centered with correct posture.
Hippotherapy has been shown to not only help with gait, posture, and balance but also help with behavior and communication issues.
Horses are loving and caring creatures and their nature helps to relax people and encourage them to participate in activities that will help them meet their desired goals. Animals can provide a bond that humans sometimes cannot form and hippotherapy provides the opportunity for riders to bond with animals and form a relationship.
People who are nonverbal, such as those with traumatic brain injuries, stroke, and autism, are able to communicate without words to an animal. Some people need more sensory input. The therapists are able to monitor and increase sensory input by having them ride in differing positions, throw objects at a target, and read and write all while riding the horse.
Overall, the benefits of hippotherapy have been shown to help with many different types of diagnoses such as cerebral palsy, autism, strokes, burn injuries, and more.
We strive to help each patient reach their desired goals in a whole new way.
Additional Benefits specific to Physical Therapy
- Improved tightness from limitation in range of joints and soft tissue from scarring.
- Increased balance and gait deviation resulting from scarring and muscle weakness.
- Improves motion planning.
- Improves weight shifting.
- Improves tone/muscle strength.
- Decreases abnormal muscle tone.
- Stretches tight muscle.
- Increases endurance.
- Enhances deep breathing.
- Reduces stress.
- Helps facilitate normal walking patterns.
- Improves balance and coordination.