HEALING WITH HORSES
Not many children enjoy the clinical feel of office-based therapy, luckily that’s not the only option for parents with troubled or disabled kids.
Practiced in South Africa, Equine therapy (also referred to as hippotherapy, therapeutic horseback riding and equine-assisted therapy), is especially beneficial for individuals and children with challenges and disabilities such as autism, brain injury, developmental disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety attacks and phobias, spina bifida and chemical and alcohol abuse.
Equine therapy is unique in that it combines the benefits of physical therapy (gross motor movement and abilities), occupational therapy (fine motor abilities) and speech-language therapy (physiological systems associated with speech and language) in an environment that is both light hearted and fun. This in turn improves emotional, cognitive, behavioural, communicative and social malfunctions outside of the typical office therapy set up.
“Horses mirror human emotions,” says Marina Lotter, innovator and owner of Horse Whispers. “This is why it’s such a great tool to use to teach children better behaviour. A horse immediately mirrors a child’s attitude, so if a child is too bombastic and aggressive, then the horse might not feel safe and back away. But once a child builds confidence and a trust relationship with the animal, that’s when you start to see results in both the child and the horse.”
Equine therapy in the Lowveld and further afield:
Horse Whispers: Marina Lotter, 084 418 0079, email@example.com, www.horsewhispers.co.za, Mpumalanga
Lowveld High School: Tracy de Klerk, firstname.lastname@example.org, Mpumalanga
Equitherapist: Jane Merber, 082 709 2782, email@example.com, Mpumalanga
Nottinghill Equestrian Estate: 084 925 9599, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.nottinghillequestrian.co.za, Mpumalanga
Ashalata Equine Therapy: 083 280 5801, email@example.com, ashalataequinetherapy.yolasite.com, Western Cape
Sleepy Hollow Horse Riding: 021 789 2341, 083 261 0104, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.sleepyhollowhorseriding.com, Western Cape
Bar Circle Ranch: email@example.com, www.barcircleranch.com, KwaZulu-Natal
For more information on equine therapy and becoming an equitherapist visit the Equine Assisted Psychotherapy Institute of South Africa website, www.eapisa.co.za