Hippotherapy means "horse-assisted therapy". Although it has been known since ancient times that it was used for the therapeutic benefits of horses, hippotherapy practices in today's sense have become common after the 1950s.

Hippotherapy can be used for rehabilitation purposes in the treatment of many disorders including neurological, psychological, physical, sensory, developmental disorders. Improved balance and muscle control of the person receiving treatment is achieved through the three-dimensional movements of horses. The fact that horses are social and emotional beings similar to humans, their different personalities, attitudes and moods, and their intuition are the most important reasons for their therapeutic use (1). Pleasant, motivating therapy sessions help people keep their focus on therapy and extend their endurance. This increases opportunities for learning and improving motor and communication skills (2).

Hippotherapy sessions at the child to see the development over time of the relationship with the horse, with other forms of social life, and afterward to make it more meaningful relationship with another person, the therapist actions to achieve the goals of facilitating compliance with, especially when working with children to be a part of the game, the calming effect of the therapeutic benefits of being in nature can be shown as an example of Hippotherapy.

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder in which repetitive stereotypical behaviors are observed along with social interaction, language development delays that begin in early childhood. Research shows that common attention and imitation skills differ from their peers who show normal development in children with OSB. Common attention can simply be defined as the simultaneous focus of two or more individuals on the same external stimulus (Akt., Ökcün-Akçamuş, 2016). Developing common attention skills when working with children with autism is one of the main therapeutic goals. Hippotherapy is important in children with little interest in the environment in terms of the appearance of a response to ancestors and stimuli in the environment, as well as development at the stages of attention collection and maintenance. Skills gained in these areas are also the main factor in establishing interpersonal relationships. The child's awareness of others (horse, therapist, others in the environment) and their ability to understand that they may have feelings, thoughts, desires, the development of empathy ability; sharing time, interest, environment, an action that allows them to stay in the moment can explain the positive effects of hippotherapy in psychotherapy. At the same time, it provides achievements such as the ability to delay the pleasure necessary to establish healthy social relationships in social life, impulse control, and the ability to get a queue. The best thing, more than all this is written, is to witness the feeling of love and closeness that the child shows by hugging the horse's neck while on the horse during the session.

Author: Ezgi Dinibütün Öğrünç - Psychologist

Volunteer Translator: Büşra Turan





(1) Köseman A., Şeker i. (2015). Properties of horses used in hippotherapy and therapy. Erciyes University Veterinary Faculty Magazine, 12 (3), 195-201.

(2) Svedberg L. (2019).  Hippotherapy: To improve engine and communication skills.

(3) Ökcün-Akçamuş M. Ç. (2016). Social communication skills and language development characteristics of children with autism spectrum disorder. Ankara University Special Education Magazine 2016, 17 (2), 163-190. DOI: 10.21565 / ozelegitimdergisi.246293