“The movement of the horse is, actually stimulates, motivates. It’s a good input for the vestibular, the balance system, it improves trunk strength.”
Carol Swanteson has been involved in hippo therapy for 20 years and says that not just any ole horse will do.
“They have to have the right attitude. They have to have a very forgiving attitude. I like a horse that’s had a lot of training, preferably a retired show horse, that’s my favorite.”
First time riders are usually afraid.
“Fear is one thing that horses will react to, but my horses are pretty good about it, they’re, I would say, most of them are pretty calm.”
And the fear factor works both ways.
“Some horses don’t like the pressure of two people walking beside them as well as being led, and that’s what it takes, almost every rider has two side walkers and a leader.”
Horses have a movement that can’t be replicated in a clinical setting.
“The rider’s on top of the horse and the horse is moving, simulates the human walk in the rider, and so it’s important that the horses gait be consistent, which means a four legged sound horse, and that triggers the brain to thinking that the body’s walking.”
And you never know who will steal the spotlight.
“I’ve had horses I thought were going to be great and didn’t make it, and others that I thought there’s no way that they’re going to fly in this program and they have been stars.”
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