Over the last decades, Therapeutic Riding has evolved greatly and individual branches have been developed. The branches created nowadays are Hippotherapy which is also known as Equine assisted therapy, Therapeutic Riding- Equine Assisted learning, , Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and horse riding as a sport for people with special needs. More specifically:
- Hippotherapy: In this healing form the patient isn’t actively riding but he rather adapts to the rhythm and movement of the horse. The gait and movement of the horse moves the human pelvis in a way that mimics exactly the human walking gait. This method also includes exercises and manipulations while on the horse, which are performed by a qualified physiotherapist. It aims to treat neuromuscular and musculoskeletal dysfunctions as well as improving the articulation of words and the patient’s cognitive abilities. The professionals who can practice hippotherapy are physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists as well as physicians trained in hippotherapy. During the session a trained horse guide handles the horse.
- Therapeutic Riding: It is an alternative, holistic, therapeutic approach for people with a variety of disabilities and / or disorders. It is applied by specialized professionals as an individual’s session or as a group session, and it includes exercises to improve learning, physical and psychomotor skills. The horse is either guided by the horse handler or independently by the trainee.
- Riding as a sport for people with special needs: This branch does not focus on therapy, but it gives the opportunity to participate in the sport to those for are interested. Riding for people with disabilities is defined as a form of exercise for leisure and social inclusion. The main objective is the development of social skills and the necessary athletic knowledge and behavior needed for the sport. Disabled athletes ride their horses independently.
- Equine assisted psychotherapy: It relies on psychoanalytic procedures in order to deal primarily with psychosis, depression, institutionalization and chronic addictions. Psychotherapy assisted by the horse helps the patient to develop skills that have been lost or halted by a mental illness. Thus the patient acquires motor, cognitive and social skills.