Equine-Assisted Practices and Therapeutic Horsemanship
This field wouldn’t exist without Natural Horsemanship in our culture. Equine-assisted work in all its forms wouldn’t exist if we still used horses as machinery. So much would be different.
This is not to say horses haven’t been therapeutic for people even back in the day when horses were used for plowing fields, transportation, and welfare. But people of those times likely would have scoffed at any attempts to make this therapeutic benefit tangible and credible.
Like Natural Horsemanship, equine-assisted practice, as an activity, has deep roots. References from as early as 600 B.C. speak of early Greeks utilizing horses not only for people with disabilities, but for general health and well-being. Jump forward to the 1800s, where European physicians found horseback riding helpful in the treatment of certain neurological conditions to improve balance, posture, and strength. Physicians used riding therapy during a Scandinavian outbreak of poliomyelitis (a kind of polio) in 1946. In a famous case from that time, horsewoman Liz Hartel used daily riding sessions to recover from the disease, and later went on to win a silver medal in Dressage in the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games. Her story brought attention to horseback riding for the disabled, and she later partnered with physical therapist Ulla Harpoth to bring equine therapy to patients
Therapeutic riding began in the U.S. and Canada in the 1960s; om 1969, the North American Riding for the Handicapped (NARHA) formed in the U.S. Therapeutic riding practitioners were able to catalogue a range of beneficial aspects, including physical, psychological, social, and educational outcomes: improved balance and strength,...