How Horses Heal

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Welcome to Step It Up - Horse Riding Therapy

What horse riding therapy can help and improve.

As explained in the article “The Horses Healing Rhythm” the horses movement stimulates the vestibular system of the rider resulting in effective sensory integration. Sensory integration in itself already stimulates and improves many aspects of a child's development.

•Improvement of muscle tone and strength.

•General balance improves. •Eye-muscles improve - influence on reading. •Increased attention-span and concentration. •Hyperactive children tend to calm down. •Tactile system is stimulated. •Emotional/behavioral problems improve. •Increased spatial and body awareness. •Development of self-confidence and motivation. •School performance can improve. •Increased joint mobility and range of movement. •Development of the ability to organize and perform tasks in sequence (praxis). .
How it works

The Horse's Healing Rhythm

The therapeutic value of horse riding was described by Hippocrates as
” The Riding's Healing Rhythm".
The mission of Step It Up Horse Riding Therapy is to harness this healing rhythm by combining it with therapeutic activities to enhance every rider's quality of life and help them reach maximum potential.
Stimulation:  The vestibular apparatus is constantly stimulated by the movement of the horse throughout the therapeutic lesson.
The Vestibular apparatus - Three canals located in the inner ear with fluid inside, these canals are located near the cerebellum; the more stimulation these canals receive the more the cerebellum and brain stem are stimulated the faster formation of neuro pathways, learning, improvement of the somato-sensory system and normalization of sensory integration takes place.
Effects of vestibular malfunction: Due to the integration of the vestibular apparatus into the cerebellum (part of brain) there are many different symptoms and conditions that result as a malfunction of the vestibular apparatus. Even if the conditions are not linked directly to the vestibular apparatus the location and stimulation of the apparatus is beneficial and helps in improving all conditions.
Sensory integration is the ability of the brain to receive and process stimuli and then offer an appropriate response. (localize, sort and direct senses). When sensory integration problems occur the correct response is not given to the stimuli received.
Sensory Integration Location and Specification.
1. Somato Sensory System (Limbic) -is located in the area (bottom half) of the brain where the initial message is received: taste, touch, sight, smell, hearing. 1.1 Modulation (hyper-over sensitive or hypo- under sensitive)

1.2 Discrimination:

•Perception- See + Interpret: spatial awareness, geometry, word sums, hand eye co- ordination, un-neat hand writing. •Learning problems- struggle to copy from blackboard, lack of concentration.

Other symptoms of vestibular malfunction: 1. Post rotary Nystagmus test- tests if the vestibular system is over active or under-active. Underactive- only vestibular, passivity. Over active- vestibular and hemispherical, hyper active.

2. Muscle tone- the normal state of tension of muscles in the body while in a relaxed state. High muscle tone (hypertonia)- found in cerebral damage patients results in tightly contracted muscles. Low muscle tone (hypotonia)- Found in patients with learning disabilities, sloppy posture, tire easily, fidget a lot. Therapy- work on muscle tones by correcting posture, the position on the horse also corrects, trunk rotation and strengthening exercises.

3. Postural adjustment Mechanism- the ability to adjust the body when its position changes or environment changes. Effects – Balance, reflexes, trunk rotation. Results- Hemispherical integration> trunk rotation> spatial perception> swap letters and numbers> reading and spelling problems Therapy- just riding the horse stimulates this, trunk rotation and balance activities will help.

4. Bilateral integration- the ability to co-ordinate the use both limbs simultaneously. Results- does not want to hold book while writing, struggles with crossing the midline, struggles to eat with knife and fork. Therapy- do activities with both hands, clapping hands, playing with shaving cream in plate with both hands, crossing of the midline activities.

5. Laterality- the ability to have an accurate body concept and idea of where what is. Results- Discerning right and left, midline activities, writes the wrong way around. Therapy- Gross motor activities that involve crossing of midline, figure eight with arms.

6. Eye muscle co-ordination- Following with eyes, convergence, peripheral vision, localization. Results- visual foreground problems, reading, copying from blackboard.   Therapy- let the patient follow an object with their eyes, shift focus to near and far, work on peripheral.

7. Speech- one canal of the vestibular apparatus is for speech, thus stimulation by horse riding improves speech.

8. Proprioception- the ability to sense the position and space of the body Therapy- Apply pressure to ligaments around wrists (anxiety) and ankles (active), calming the patient and improving muscle tone.

9. Hand eye co-ordination and fine motor skills- hand eye co-ordination is used to perform any action ( throwing a ball), fine motor skills are used for precise movements.(colouring inside the lines) Therapy- Work on shoulder girdle, Daman se Brachiaton- ladder into class.

10. Praxis-the ability to formulate an idea and effectively execute it. Motor planning and oral Planning: 1. Ideation (Right brain) 2. Logic (Left brain) 3. Doing (Right and Left brain) Results- rhythm, repetition, judgement, work speed, scratching Therapy- repetitive activities that require motor planning.

11. Hemispherical integration- the ability of both sides of the brain to function effectively. Learning styles: Visual (right brain), Audio (left brain), Movement (both), Functional dominance- the preferred dominant hand, Genetic dominance- inherited dominance.

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