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A part of the whole

In a therapy situation, the majestic appearance of the horse diverts all the patient’s attention to itself. Added to this, the patient feels sublimely supported, surrounded by the horse’s warmth and physical presence. Perhaps the rocking movement is a subtle reminder of being rocked in a cradle – and practically any kind of blockage can be released. The therapy can divert the attention of patients suffering from an SI disorder from their own problems so effectively that they are able to allow contact and perform actions without the need to adopt the usual defensive mechanisms. In addition, the process takes place in the context of a kind of linear movement which increases muscle tone and at the same time trains the sense of balance.

These aspects are all part of the basic functionality of equine assisted therapy. In other words, sensory integration is an essential part of the therapy – in fact, so powerful is the influence of the therapy that one could not prevent the it from having an effect on the patient’s powers of sensory integration even if one wished to do so.

To recall the definition of sensory integration: It is the interplay of various different forms of sensory perception, their systematic processing and coordination. Where better than on the back of a horse can one experience such a range of impressions and sensory stimuli? Sensation, movement, being moved, sights and smells. Even speaking and listening can be integrated into the therapy.

One of the most impressive features of horseback riding therapy is its versatility. In many cases one and the same exercise can have a beneficial effect on all sorts of different conditions and deficiencies. The same activity which helps one child with tactile defensiveness to desensibilize its stimulus perception can calm down another one’s hyperactivity or prompt an autistic person to display some of his or her feelings. This means that it makes no sense to try to concentrate one’s focus in equine assisted therapy on SI alone. Neither should the educational and therapeutic aspects be artificially separated from each other – see the section under Instruction and Training entitled 'First and foremost'.

Even if one has covered all the theoretical background and learned all there is to know about the different conditions from which patients suffer, it is easy to forget the key factor in equine assisted therapy: that the real therapist is the horse itself, and not the human being who carries that label. Our function is basically to enable the horse to perform its task as well as possible. And that is why we place so much emphasis on the importance of communication with the therapy horse and learning how to manage and care for it. That is why practical components such as guidance and longeing, as well as the exercises and games and their relevance for the healing and self-healing processes feature so prominently in igogo’s Instruction and Training programme.

"A solid foundation of practical experience" – more than just a motto.

igogo · Academy for Equine Assisted Therapy · Petra Meisel
E-Mail: info(at)
concept and text: · Web Design and TYPO3: HORNUNG

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