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Hippotherapy and Developmental Riding Therapy
Hippotherapy refers to the use of the movement of the horse as a treatment strategy by physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech/language pathologists to address impairments, functional limitations and disabilities in patients with neuromotor and sensory dysfunction. This treatment strategy is used as part of an integrated medical treatment program to achieve functional goals; goals include improving balance, coordination, and posture, fine motor control, improving articulation, and increasing cognitive skills. In pure hippotherapy the client generally remains passive, has no direct influence over the horse, and may perform various exercises on the horse. Developmental Riding Therapy is an extension of Hippotherapy and falls within the ambit of psychosocial treatment models. It involves an active rider on an active horse and incorporates various skilled professionals that emphasise the holistic needs of the participant as a physical, emotional and spiritual being. In both settings the focus is on correct positioning to maximise the movement impulse stimulation of the horse, maximising the opportunities for correct motor development. The physical therapeutic benefit is gained from the three dimensional movement stimulation of the walking movement of the horse, as well as the increased sensory, vestibular, and proprioceptive stimulation experienced.