Equitherapy / Equine-assisted therapy.
Equitherapy is the use of horses and ponies to help children learn optimally by adding movement and gravity, while developing sensori-motor skills. In other words, movement and gravity develop gross motor, fine motor and perceptual motor skills. It also develops the childs ability to conceive, plan and execute what to do.
Research conducted by Jane Ayres, Howard Gardiner, Eric Jensen, Howard Pearce Carla Hannaford and many more world renowned experts found that most learning disabilities are caused by sensory integration problems.
Sensory integration refers to the ability of the brain to register, organise and interpret information from our senses. These senses include touch, movement (including gravity), sight, sound, smell and taste.
Until children are about seven years old, the brain is mainly a sensory process mechanism. Our senses tell us where our bodies are in relation to our surroundings. It also tells us the physical state of our bodies and our surroundings. For example, the movement (vestibular-proprioceptive) system has receptors in the inner ear, muscles and joints. When stimulated by gravity, the receptors send information to the brain regarding the movement and position of our head and limbs. Importantly, the way a child experiences his/her body and surroundings have a direct impact on his/her ability to achieve optimal learning.