When you ride a horse, there are a lot of physical activities that go on incorporating and improving your physical strength, balance and lots more. Starting at an early age horse riding has several positive outcomes for children. As for the adults, regular horse riding can promote a wide range of motor actions and also helps in developing different physical disabilities.
Studies have shown a direct relation of different rehabilitation and therapies with equine assisted activities. In such therapies, a horse is used as the most prominent and useful therapeutic tool. The therapies improve fine and gross motor functions, repairs impairments in physical balance and also promote coordination, spasticity and gait.
Supporting Evidence Of Riding
There are several pieces of evidence of the benefits people with disabilities enjoy therapeutic riding and hippo-therapy. Over the years, several researchers have studied, analyzed and reviewed previous reports of horse riding interventions for patients. In almost all reports they found that several different types of motor dysfunction were rectified with organized and patterned movements.
The most common ailments that the researchers found to be cured include:
- Cerebral palsy
- Multiple sclerosis and
Moreover, further studies and comprehensive reviews evaluated two specific types of interventions:
- Therapeutic riding – This is defined and involves a specific type of modified and adaptive horseback riding that has a therapeutic goal
- Hippo-therapy – This is a specific movement that uses the horse for different therapeutic purposes.
Significant Positive Impact
Thorough studies provided exciting and promising results that showed horse riding could have serious and noteworthy positive impact on a person’s health, especially suffering from the diseases as mentioned above or disabilities. Whether it is a therapeutic central park horse ride or Hippo-therapy, it affected all patients in all groups studied by the researchers. However, individual studies on patients reported small yet significant improvements in the outcomes. These outcomes included:
- Improvement in balance
- Enhanced motor functions
- Improvement in posture and gait
- Provision of better muscle symmetry and recruitment
- Better pelvic movement and
- Overall improvement in psychosocial factors to improve the quality of life in turn.
Meta-Analysis Of Specific Measures
Sufficient data and repots have been gathered by the researchers after a meta-analysis of a few specific measures. These reports prove that therapeutic horse riding can improve the ability of appropriate action and self-control in children. The appropriate action controls the ‘Go Reaction,’ and the self-control appropriation controls the ‘no-go reaction’ in children. It also showed that on a measured balance, the ability of therapeutic riding in improving balance and gross as well as fine motor function is similar enough if not significantly greater as compared to other types of therapy.
Promising And Encouraging Results
After all these facts and findings, researchers suggest that the future of therapeutic riding and hippo-therapy is promising and encouraging. However, definitive results and clinical proofs are yet to come out but even with these gaps in, the studies of these interventions in international literature and its results cannot be overlooked.
It is also true that right at this moment the scope of performing meta-analysis is very limited due to the smaller size and the diverse measurements used for such studies. With all of these limitations, the available reports and statistics suggest that therapeutic central park horse ride and hippo-therapy has several beneficial features for patients suffering from motor disabilities.
The studies show improvement in walking, balance in leg muscles and an increase in muscle strength for older adults and even for stroke survivors.
Results Awaited For Other Outcomes
The positive effects of horse riding and the therapeutic benefits in other fields and important outcomes are however awaited but overall, all seems to be very promising. This is the reason horse riding is and was a favorite pastime and sports.
It is even believed that horse riding has a positive effect on daily activity levels as well as the self-competence in patients. The equine assisted therapies have the potential to provide assistance and promote cognitive, social as well as emotional wellbeing.
Horse riding simultaneously provides any individual participating in it with a pleasurable experience, noticeable benefits and impeccable enjoyment in the outdoors which is hardly available in any other form.
List Of Benefits
Now you have cars to move and drive and horse riding has become more of a recreational sport with a few professionals engaged in professional events such as equestrian and horse racing. The obvious health benefits of horse riding seem to be strong legs and core but there are several less obvious benefits of it as well. It helps in meditation and focus, increases concentration level as well as boosts up the level of confidence in you. Used in medical therapies further corroborate the usefulness of horses and the health benefits of horse riding it.
Awareness And Quick Thinking
Horse riding improves body awareness by developing your core muscles. It further stabilizes the trunk, abdomen, back and your pelvic muscles. Apart from that, it promotes coordination and stability of all parts of your body and the more you ride a horse the more you learn to move along with the movement of the horse.
It also promotes quick thinking ability as you always have to work towards controlling the movement as well as the mood of a large and powerful animal. You develop a better understanding of the horse to know about the agendas in its mind. You will know how to adjust your muscles to maintain a coherent combination with you and the animal.
Coordination And Other Benefits
With a better hand, eye and muscle coordination along with your mind simultaneously, it is found that therapeutic horse riding programs can help patients with sight impairment a lot.
It is an isometric exercise that enables your muscles to stay in specific positions. You improve your postural strength with this physical and mental exercise. It helps in toning your muscles and improves flexibility due to the squatting position that you stay in for a long time and adjust to the cadence of your horse. It has a serious meditative effect staying on a horse.