Відбір та система підготовки коней для іпотерапії

Ігор Володимирович Гончаренко


Подано інформацію про історію метода лікування кіньми – іпотерапію, її позитивний вплив на здоров’я  дорослих і дітей, особливо хворих на дитячий церебральний параліч (ДЦП). Розглянуто необхідні вимоги для створення центрів з лікувальної верхової їзди.

Пропонується вважати іпотерапію комплексним багатофункціональним методом реабілітації дітей, де інструментом реабілітації слугують коні, процес верхової їзди і фізичні вправи.

Позитивний результат іпотерапії здебільшого залежить від правильного відбору коней та вимог, що до них висуваються (норов, тип конституції, екстер’єр, витривалість та ін.). Розглянуто систему заходів з відбору коней, призначених для іпотерапії, та їх підготовку із врахуванням зоопсихології і взаємодії складових системи «кінь-пацієнт-інструктор-лікар».

Робиться висновок, що механізм взаємодії «людина-кінь» потрібно ретельно вивчати, а для збереження здоров’я нації – мати фінансову допомогу держави на розвиток іпотерапії, реабілітаційних центрів та кінного спорту для інвалідів.


Positive effects on the health of adults and children are reached with the help of "therapeutic" abilities of pets: cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, and horses. Hippotherapy (ride therapy), a treatment mode based on the interaction of humans and horses specially trained to meet the needs of the patient, is increasingly spreading in the treatment of patients. Today, hippotherapy is used to treat gastrointestinal disorders, diseases and injuries of the musculoskeletal system, cardiovascular disorders, neurological disorders, multiple sclerosis, prostatitis, oligophrenia, infantile cerebral palsy, and others.

Medical professionals have proved that communication with a horse calms people well, boosts their self-esteem, gives them a sense of confidence and safety. And the best recovery results are achieved with the use of hippotherapy in the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders and problems with movements’ control.

During the therapeutic riding, the body swings in three dimensions: left-right, forward-back, and up-down. The affected muscle groups and nervous structures start working. It develops mobility, a sense of balance, and motion coordination in patients suffering from paralysis.

In the process of horse riding, all the major groups of body muscles are engaged. This happens at the reflex level, as the rider, moving along with the horse, instinctively seeks to maintain a balance not to fall, thereby inducing both healthy and affected muscles to work actively, without even noticing it. Hippotherapy acts upon the human body in the same way as any other form of physical therapy – under the influence of physical exercises the functions of vegetative systems are enhanced.

Hippotherapy has received a well-deserved recognition. Children confined to wheelchair due to their illness, which traditional medicine was powerless to cope with, were up and about again thanks to training with horses. No special simulator has a look in with what a contact with a live horse gives to a child. While the horse is on the move, the rider's body performs the same movements as during their independent walking. Riding a rhythmically moving horse, the rider instinctively seeks to maintain balance. At the same time, all muscles of their body, both healthy and affected by the disease, are engaged. It is achieving the synchrony of the movements of the child and the horse, in other words, creating a unified biological system that is the basis of self-correction of the curved spine.

With each hippotherapy session, the patient's back muscles get stronger, and legs muscles and tendons warm up, increasing blood circulation in the limbs and blood supply to the brain. This contributes to the creation of a strong muscle corset around the spine.

Positive results in hippotherapy in many respects depend on the correct selection of horses. There are certain requirements to the character, temperament, endurance, type and exterior which the horse that is used for therapeutic riding should meet. In addition, each horse must undergo a special training, which will develop and enhance the necessary qualities, for example, a horse should be able to ease the possible fear of a rider and dampen down their aggression.

Therefore, the purpose of the study was to examine the selection parameters for horses intended for hippotherapy and to explore the existing training systems, taking into account the mechanism of “human-horse” interaction.

It is hippotherapy and therapeutic (adaptive) horse riding that requires horse’s maximum discipline and responsibility, since it's not just about children, but about the children working with whom there is no room for mistake. However, it should be remembered that even a horse with an ideal temper can be spoiled by negligence of an unskilled groom, their rudeness and indifference, harshness of a coach or doctor.

In the stables meant for hippotherapy, all those basic humanitarian principles that have been implemented and mastered in the course of many centuries in the relationship between humans and horses must be respected. In view of therapeutic specifics, such relationships are crucial. Horses should have optimal conditions for a full-fledged manifestation of kindness and mercy.

Therefore, the most important criterion for selecting a horse is its temperament. Horses used in the therapy should be friendly, trusting, calm, patient and balanced animals. It is important that the horse remains frisky and vigorous, since only such horses may have an appropriate therapeutic step, and it is difficult to work with feeble and apathy animals. Of course, the horses that bite, kick and are aggressive to people cannot be used for the therapy.

In hippotherapy, mares and gelded horses are mainly used, which is due to the fact that they have the most appropriate temperament. Stallions, as a rule, are not used, but there are no severe restrictions here. It happens that stallions also work effectively, but in the case there is always a risk factor.

Horse’s exterior is the next criterion for assessing its suitability. Preferably, it should not be too height (145-160 cm in the withers), as high horses complicate the patient's safeguarding. Being not high, the horse should have a wide and rather long back with well-developed muscles, middle or low withers, and its legs should have the correct position.

It has been proved that in view of these characteristics the best breeds are the following: Huzul horses, Arabic horses, Novooleksandrivska Heavy Draft horses and others with a strong balanced type of higher nervous activity. The horses of the elder age (7-10 years old) are selected, mainly gelded horses and mares with a characteristic exterior: short, stretched, with a wide back, with a step at a trot of 80-90 cm, a step of 68-76 cm, with strong limbs, but the main thing is their well-balanced nature.

In addition, a horse possessing all the necessary therapeutic qualities should be well prepared for certain exercises during therapy. Therefore, the horse-doctor, whatever happens, should be calm, obedient, and steady, accustomed to be touched everywhere, attentive to the voice of the instructor and to what is happening. Thus, the horse should accept any human action absolutely positively.

A comprehensive study of the interaction of all participants of animal-assisted therapy: animals, patients, therapists (instructors, psychologists, doctors) is carried out according to the methodology of animal psychology. Ideally, the instructor and the horse should form a coordinated team, and not only during hippotherapy sessions.

Duration of hippotherapy sessions varies depending on the illness and physical fitness of the rider. The loads are given purposefully.

It would be wrong to say that horses are recommended only if there is some kind of physical problem. A healthy person will be really amused and delighted after the interaction with these cute and graceful creatures. Taking care of the animal develops a person’s communicative skills, helps them overcome emotional barriers, and promotes social rehabilitation.

Each horse is a personality. During hippotherapy they are expected to do almost an impossible thing: to become a reliable and safe simulator, to clearly and unconditionally carry out our orders. This can be achieved only if we treat the horse as a partner, with due respect, and give them time and space to satisfy our requirements.

Thus, the “human-horse” interaction mechanism needs to be thoroughly investigated, and in order to preserve the health of the nation, the government should provide financial assistance for the development of hippotherapy, rehabilitation centers and equestrian sport for the disabled.

Повний текст:



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