Whether you're a bronco rider or barrel racer, or you like to ride for pleasure, going horseback is not just a fun place to sit. It's a sport that requires muscle control and good posture. For a certain group of riders, the view from on top of a horse opens up a whole new world. That's the subject this week for Dr. Tedd mitchell. He is the president of the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center, and this is the president's prescription.
There are different types of equine-assisted therapy, including hippotherapy and therapeutic horseback riding. The term hippotherapy comes from hippos - the Greek word for horse.
During hippotherapy, physical, occupational or speech therapists use the horse's movement to help patients strengthen muscles and build endurance and coordination. Although horses do not walk the same way humans do, hippotherapy allows riders to feel the animal's movement and start to mimic that movement in their own bodies even when they aren't in the saddle.
Riding can also help patients develop coordination in facial muscles, aiding in speech. Hearing the distinctive sound of the horses' hooves can help with auditory skills.
On the other hand, therapeutic horseback riding promotes emotional and social skills by focusing on occupational activities and the relationship between horse and rider.
Caring for a horse is known to have a calming effect and can teach riders responsibility and how to tolerate touch. Riding in a group setting may offer additional social, emotional and psychological benefits.
To learn more about equine-assisted therapy, visit the path international website.
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