The principle of healing by equitherapy aims at the psychic and bodily care of a patient through contact with horses. The latter are in no way the object. This method helps in the treatment of psychological disorders. It is exercised in addition to adequate medical care. With the help of a qualified therapist, treatment should take place in a calm and appropriate place.
Equitherapy is far from being a riding lesson. It is a practice that aims to give the patient a means of heal from ailments in contact with the horse. It treats various illnesses or disabilities. This activity meets a particular need. The horse’s sensory channels act like a mirror. The animal acts instinctively according to the emotions felt by the patient.
Equitherapy in history
The therapeutic actions of the horse are known from its interaction with humans. But this practice has only been modernized for about fifty years. In ancient civilization, the horse riding practice was intended to strengthen the members. It helped in the healing of somatic illnesses and in the psychic education of children.
In the modern world, the practice of equine therapy was developed with Lis Hartel. In 1952, she overcame her poliomyelitis through intensive equestrian activities. In 1973, Renée de Lubersac, psychomotrician and Hubert Lallery, masseur-physiotherapist, published the book entitled “Rehabilitation through horse riding”. They have developed theories that the horse conveys psychomotor benefits.
In 1986, the National Federation of Equitherapy removes this activity from the supervision of sports federations. In 2005, the French Society of Equitherapy brings a new look at the practice of this therapy.
The therapeutic benefits of equine therapy
It provides both cognitive and behavioral benefits. Its field of action concerns emotions, relationships, communication and feelings. It improves the difficulties on the psychic level (anxiety attack, language delay, intellectual delay, handicap…). Thanks to his presence, the horse helps the patient to have confidence in him. The practice of riding in therapy stimulates the senses.
It allows the patient toimprove communication with the outside world. It promotes initiative and socialization. On a physical level, equine therapy increases muscle tone. It strengthens their resistance and increases their strength. It restores a certain balance of posture and coordination. The relationship forged with the animal increases self-confidence.
Equitherapy in practice
The practice of equine therapy is far from simple. It requires the will of the patient to move forward. The horse is an instinctive animal, but not intrusive. The patient must therefore come on his own to the animal. With the help of a specialist therapist, trust must be established.
For all treatments, the activity takes place in a soothing and calm setting. The first session helps to make contact. The therapist works on communication and trust between the patient and the mediator. Thanks to its developed sensory channels, the horse will know how to treat the patient.