While I’ve never really been an avid fan of horseback riding, there’s something appealing about it. I have gone riding a few times. I do like horses. I never importuned my parents for a pony, as I knew it would be more realistic for me to run away and join the circus than for my mother to allow any more pets. But there’s still an attraction. I collected unicorns. I learned to draw a horse realistically before any other animal. I fantisized about being The Man from Snowy River.
While it’s too late in life for me to be a champion jockey now, there is something still there. I think it has something to do with syncing the rhythm of your body to that of another being. It’s the same kind of exhilaration that comes from being part of a smooth crew team. Pulling in that rhythm as one does something to the mind, connecting you in sensation and experience. You and the horse or you and the team are feeling the same movements, feeling the same air stirring around you, adjusting your bodies to fit each other’s movements. While I don’t quite understand how that adjustment connects us, it indicates some sort of subliminal ties.
Perhaps that’s why therapy on horseback, or hippotherapy (not hypnotherapy), is becoming more popular for children. Now, i know all of you are asking what the ‘potamuses have to do with horses, but never fear, I will explain. Hippos means horse in Greek, and hippopotamus means ‘water horse’. Personally I think they could’ve gone with something closer to manatee, like manapotamus (water cow) or ‘river beast’, however you say that in Greek. Calling a hippo a horse is like calling an elephant a dog. Sure, they could both be pets named Rover, but one can nap at the foot of your bed and the other one needs a barn to sleep in.
So far hippotherapy being used in conjunction with other forms of therapy to correct problems with vision and sensory perception as well as balance. If you think about it, it makes sense. You need an acute sense of balance to stay on top of a moving object like a horse. Some of us (Hello, my name is Stacey) need an acute sense of balance to continually stand upright. Same thing goes for sensory and visual perception. Horseback riding broadens the range of experiences in these areas, forcing your brain to learn. But what most parents are saying is that the therapeutic value is even more intense in regards to emotions. Children might not necessarily be excited to go to therapy. It can be frustrating, and can ruin a good mood. But what kid doesn’t want to get up on a horse? It’s a mood booster as well as a therapeutic exercise. a) I want that and b) when and for how long will my health insurance cover it?