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Practice makes perfect

There is a very wide range of conditions which can be treated by means of horseback riding therapy, which means that practitioners must be extremely flexible in their approach. In order to provide the best possible benefit to all the people who come to us for help we need to be able to recognize the conditions from which they are suffering. This requires sound basic knowledge of psychotherapy and medicine as well as advanced educational and communication skills so that we can provide our clients, their carers and their next of kin with the service which they have a right to expect.

The igogo training and instruction includes all the specialist areas of knowledge which you will need as an equine assisted therapist. We make sure that theory and practice go hand in hand.

The main focus for all our knowledge, skill and experience in riding therapy is placed on enabling the therapy horse to perform its task as well as possible. We have already mentioned several times that we at igogo see the horse not only as a 'co-worker', but as the true therapist. Nevertheless, this does not relieve us of the responsibility for ensuring that our equine partner is completely reliable, especially in respect of the patients. This is an absolute precondition which must be met before we can even consider allowing a disabled person – or indeed anybody at all – to sit on the horse's back. This explains why we insist on giving this point the greatest attention. And it involves a large number of separate aspects, from the selection of suitable therapy horses, their training and interaction with the patients, through questions of diet, stabling and medical care to practical matters of equipment and occupational safety.

Theoretical background

However practical a task may be, it is generally wise to put it on a sound theoretical footing in advance. In our case, this means that a thorough understanding of the human body, knowledge of the disorders and disabilities which may beset it and especially how these affect the patients concerned forms an ideal theoretical foundation for the practical side of equine assisted therapy. Specifically, we give instruction in:

  • Basic human physiology and psychology
  • Ways of dealing with crisis situations and coping strategies
  • Workshop on the subject of parenting with the right mixture of love and firmness (Triple P)
  • Communication skills and management
  • Introduction to the topics of 'psychological disorders' and 'psychopathology'
  • Stress management
  • Socio-behavioural disorders
  • Sensory integration
  • Psychomotor relationships
  • Practically relevant clinical characteristics of disorders
  • Case studies with direct practical relevance

amongst various other topics.


Equestrian skills

The horse is our partner therapist. We must have an understanding of our partner’s needs and capabilities and know how to deal with him. Therefore we regard practical knowledge and ability in equestrian matters as being especially important. The instruction includes amongst other things:

  • Human and equine first aid
  • Equine physiology, care and curative treatment
  • Practical equestrianism: 1-2 day, intensive course in classical Iberian equestrianism given by Judith Zimmermann RIZ (voluntary supplementary course offered by igogo – not part of the basic curriculum)
  • Double longe, long reins, driving reins, longeing, correct guidance
  • Ground work, 'natural horsemanship', human-horse communication / the language of the horses
  • Circus exercises
  • Equine osteopathy

Horseback riding therapy in practice

The practical implementation of equine assisted therapy is the point at which the theoretical background knowledge and equestrian skills come together. In addition, the therapist needs to be acquainted with a number of other related subjects, such as:

  • Structure of a therapy session
  • Special communication training
  • Introducing the client to the horse
  • Case studies
  • Self awareness and self control while working with the therapy horse
  • Teamwork
  • Working with various patients from our project groups
  • Familiarity with different horses - each one a character in its own right!
  • Exercises and practical instruction relating to the various disorders and clinical characteristics which may be expected, e.g. sensory integration disorders ...
igogo · Academy for Equine Assisted Therapy · Petra Meisel
E-Mail: info(at)
concept and text: · Web Design and TYPO3: HORNUNG

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