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Equine Therapy

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Animals and humans have always had a special bond. From the earliest of times, man would tame animals to be his companion. Dogs and cats were welcomed into the home to be companions to man. As time passed, research proved that these family companions could also provide healing for individuals with special needs. Therapy dogs emerged, and gave comfort to people in hospitals, confidence to children with autism, and companionship for the lonely. In recent times, another animal is starting to be recognized for their healing powers. Horses, through the ages, have always been man’s noble partner. Today, these noble partners are starting to be used as a therapy method for children with disabilities. Equine therapy, as it is called has been…show more content…
Secondly, the characteristics of intellectual disabilities will also be discussed, to provide a better understanding about the exceptional individuals who are at the center of hippotherapy and therapeutic riding. Thirdly, the challenges that go with equine therapy will be discussed. Furthermore, the research about hippotherapy will be analyzed, and some popular interventions and strategies will be discussed. In addition, the long-term outlooks for both the individuals and the actual practice of hippotherapy will be evaluated. I will conclude with things that have been learned about this topic, as well as identifying areas that need some further research. To better understand the benefits of equine therapy, definitions of intellectual disabilities and equine therapy itself will be provided. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, defines an intellectual disability as “significantly sub average general intellectual functioning, existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period” (Heward 130).…show more content…
First and foremost, there is a student, a horse, and a Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, or PATH certified instructor. The instructor’s job is to create a riding lesson, personalized for the individual. With therapeutic riding, instructors take standard horsemanship skills, like guiding a horse around an arena or driving a carriage, and adapt them to an individual’s specific needs (Fitzpatrick & Tebay 42). This means the instructor must take into account the person’s disability, mobility, size, sensitivity to movement, and personal goals, such as improving fine motor skills. Equine therapy can be used for any person, regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity. It is used to provide therapy for a wide range of needs, from anxiety, PTSD, and depression, to individuals in wheelchairs. The age, gender, and ethnicity of participants in equine therapy varies incredibly; no particular gender or ethnicity benefits more from hippotherapy than another. As a result, there is a very diverse student population. Here, we are discussing individuals with cognitive or intellectual disabilities in particular. As previously mentioned, an intellectual disability is one that creates delays in executive function, affects the completion of day-to-day tasks, impacts academic performance, and is characterized by an IQ score of 70 or below (Katz & Lazcano-Ponce 2). Individuals with Down syndrome and
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