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The equinoterapia is a natural therapy that is performed with the horse. It has a purely therapeutic objective, contributing to the rehabilitation, integration and socialization of those people who suffer some type of mental or mental disability, as well as those who present some type of behavioral disorder or social problem.

What is equine therapy?

Equine therapy, also known as equestrian therapy, is a treatment especially aimed at those who suffer from some type of disability . It has a great selection of benefits both physically and psychologically. The activities carried out with horses help the cognitive, physical, emotional and social development of these people. Thus, the main objective of this therapy is to achieve a better quality of life for those who practice it.

It is interesting to know that not all horses are suitable for therapy sessions. They must be noble animals, with a docile and calm temperament. In addition, it is essential that they are trained in a totally natural way, without any type of submission, since in this way confidence in the horse is ensured. Of course, it is important that you are used to dealing with people.


The history of equine therapy dates back several thousand years. Some studies have revealed that in 460 BC Hippocrates knew the therapeutic virtues of horses . Thus, he recommended the practice of this activity to those patients who suffered from pathologies that did not have treatment with the main objective of improving their mood.

At the end of the 19th century, Dr. Chassaignac, a French neurologist, found that his patients showed great improvement after riding a horse. In addition, the animal’s movement improved its balance, as well as the control of its muscles.

Equine therapy as we know it emerged in the late 1960s in Mexico, by the hand of Commander Rogelio Hernández Huerta. The technique he used was somewhat different from what is used today, but the principles of horse therapy remain intact.

Equine therapy modalities

There are different types of disciplines around equine therapy. We explain them below.

  • Therapeutic turning: it is known as such a modality that consists of performing a series of exercises on the horse’s back. It is a very beneficial activity to improve balance, as well as coordination.
  • Hippotherapy: it is a discipline that bears a certain similarity to therapeutic turning. It consists of the list of various physiotherapeutic exercises on the hair. One of the main benefits of this activity has to do with the transmission of body heat from the animal to the patient.
  • Psychotherapy: horse-assisted psychotherapy is a tool that makes use of the natural instinct of horses to intervene in patients from a social and emotional point of view.
  • Pedagogical: this is one of the most widely used disciplines in equine therapy. The patient achieves a precise adaptation to his environment and to the hair, which has a wide range of benefits: it increases motivation, improves the capacity for both concentration and attention, stimulates sensitivity and fosters independence and autonomy.
  • Social: this modality of equine therapy revolves around the active relationship that is created between the patient himself and the hair, which notably favors both adaptation and integration at a social level.
  • Occupational: a type of therapy aimed at promoting the labor insertion of patients with some type of physical / or mental disability. It consists of carrying out a series of hair care activities: brushing, cleaning the matrials, mounting the mount …
  • Adapted: and, finally, what is known as adapted riding. It is linked to the practice of sport by disabled people who practice riding. In this way, patients with disabilities can practice horse riding with the necessary adaptations.

Thus, equine therapy is a therapy with a large selection of benefits both physically and psychologically for people who suffer from some type of disability. Do not forget that the horse is one of the most sensitive animals that exist , with a great capacity to perceive people’s moods. In addition, although in many cases people are not able to recognize it, the horse constantly communicates through non-verbal language.

Benefits of equine therapy

The benefits of equestrian therapy can be divided into two broad categories: physical and psychological.

Physical benefits

From the physical point of view, this type of therapy with horses notably improves the balance of patients , as well as the control of body posture. A fundamental aspect in people with some type of physical disability since it improves their autonomy.

In addition, it strengthens muscle tone as it is a physical activity. Thus, people with reduced mobility or whose disease forces them to spend long periods of time in bed, avoid muscle trophy.

Equine therapy also improves patients’ perception of their own body, as well as coordination and orientation.

Psychological benefits

Horse therapy has a wide range of benefits on a psychological level that is interesting to know. First of all, it increases the self – esteem of those who practice it since it improves their level of self-confidence.

Secondly, it stimulates the capacity for both attention and concentration, which is extremely important, especially in patients with some type of mental disability. And, third and last, it encourages verbal and non-verbal communication, which is a great advance in communication between patients and the people around them.

You may also be interested in:   Mesotherapy

Who is horse therapy for?

Equine therapy is especially indicated for the following cases.

  • Child anxiety: in the 21st century, more and more children suffer from childhood anxiety and school stress . It is a completely natural process of the human body, which responds to external aggression.
  • Hyperactivity: horse therapy is also very beneficial for those children who suffer from hyperactivity, a disorder characterized by great difficulty in maintaining attention and excessive activity.
  • Addictions: in the case of adults, this type of therapy is increasingly used by people who suffer from some type of addiction, such as alcohol or drugs.
  • Speech disorders: For certain speech disorders, such as dyslalia, equestrian therapy is also very helpful. It encourages non-verbal communication between the patient and the horse, so that it learns to communicate better with the people around it.
  • Down syndrome: both children and adults with Down syndrome find great benefits in equine therapy.
  • Autism: in the case of children with autism, it is a highly indicated therapy since it promotes their autonomy and improves their social relationships.
  • Cerebral palsy: one of the most common applications of equestrian therapy is in patients with cerebral palsy, both children and adults.
  • Multiple sclerosis: a neurological disease characterized by the progressive destruction of myelin in the central nervous system .
  • Schizophrenia: and, finally, this therapy is also very helpful in patients with certain mental illnesses such as schizophrenia. According to the WHO, it is estimated that it affects 52 million people worldwide.

What is an equestrian therapy session like?

An equestrian therapy session begins by getting to know the person and determining both their capabilities and limitations. Once these points have been analyzed, the first contact between the patient and the horse is established; It is important that a relationship of trust is created between the two so that the patient is totally relaxed when carrying out the different activities.

Generally speaking, at first the patient begins by feeding the animal; In addition, you can perform other tasks such as brushing your hair. Physical contact between the animal and the patient is very important.

Before going to the mount, a series of warm-up activities are carried out. Do not forget that horse riding is a physical activity and, therefore, requires prior warming up of the muscles .

Depending on the needs of each patient, different activities can be carried out during the session. Sometimes you can make use of additional elements such as balls, rings or cones, among others.

The vast majority of patients attend equestrian therapy sessions once a week. However, the people responsible for the therapy should be those who determine the most appropriate period for each case, as well as the progress made by the patient.

Equine therapy and its benefits are important not only for the person receiving the therapy in question, but also for their relatives and close people. And it is that, contact with hair notably improves mood, which is a great improvement in the affective relationships that the patient maintains.

Contraindications of equine therapy

As we have pointed out, equestrian therapy has a wide selection of benefits both physically and psychologically. However, there are a number of contraindications that should be remembered.

It is not an adequate treatment for those patients who suffer from urinary incontinence , as well as heart failure. It is also not indicated for people with some type of bone problem, such as osteoporosis .

Of course, people with allergies to animals cannot practice this activity, as well as those who are afraid of horses.

The best horses for equine therapy

The success of equestrian therapy is highly dependent on choosing the right horse. It is the obligation of the center where equine therapy is taught to know what the characteristics of the animals are and for what type of patients each of them is suitable.

The horse should not be too old or too young as foals are more difficult to handle due to their restless nature. It is best if the animal is between 7 and 20 years old . In addition, it is essential that it be a noble animal, without any kind of fear towards people ; This is important to avoid any type of reaction that could pose a danger to the patient.

It is also important that the hair is used to both noise and sudden movements so that it is completely calm during the session.

As for race, the truth is that it is not a fundamental factor. However, it is recommended that it be a strong and resistant animal, capable of supporting the weight of two riders since it is sometimes mounted jointly by the patient and the therapist.


The equestrian therapy has an increasing relevance in today ‘s society. Both adults and children who suffer some type of disability or illness both physically and psychologically find in horse therapy a wide range of benefits. Equine therapy contributes significantly to both integration and socialization.

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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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