Sunday, November 28, 2021

Horse healing power to be harnessed

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Serena Kirby, Denmark Bulletin

A new exercise therapy will soon be available for Denmark children and adults recovering from serious injury or living with physical disabilities and illnesses.

Hippotherapy
Occupational therapist Miranda Miller, centre, and horse handlers Kim Hendley and Kayla Emmerton from HorsePower. Photo: Denmark Bulletin.

The name of the therapeutic practice, hippotherapy, comes from the Greek word ‘hippos’ meaning horse and roughly translates as ‘treatment with help of a horse’.

Occupational therapist Miranda Miller, who will deliver the therapy via HorsePower and their qualified horse handlers, said hippotherapy offered a broad range of benefits to patients.

The evidence-based therapy with proven results could shorten recovery times from injuries and could improve balance, bone strength and muscle control.

It was not a stand-alone therapy but formed part of a client’s broader care plan incorporating other therapy tools.

While learning to ride was well known for improving confidence and mental health, this was not the goal of hippotherapy.

“We may use similar instructions and exercises for people who are learning to ride but for very different reasons,” Miranda said.

A big part was helping clients develop core strength and flexibility which helped with sitting, standing and walking.

The natural movement of horses, which have been carefully selected for their temperament and movement, is used for therapeutic benefit.

“It’s all designed around specific parts of the person’s body and to engage their sensory and cognitive function,” Miranda said.

The therapy is planned to be available early next year and will form part of the opportunities already provided by Denmark’s HorsePower.

Previously known as Riding for the Disabled, several HorsePower volunteers recently completed training to work with Miranda in the therapy program.

Miranda has been a HorsePower volunteer for more than a year, having ridden most of her life.

“To become more involved in a professional capacity is wonderful,” she said.

It is planned to offer the therapy one day a week.

Though predominantly used for children, it would be available to adults with motor or neurological diagnoses.

Miranda and HorsePower want to borrow more horses due to an increased interest in what they offer.

With a motto of ‘riding develops ability’, the not-for-profit organisation also welcomes new volunteers.

No experience is necessary and full training is provided before working with horses.

Anyone interested in learning more about hippotherapy can contact Miranda on 044 782 0468.

Denmark Bulletin 28 October 2021

This article appeared in the Denmark Bulletin, 28 October 2021.

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