V.K. Klimova, associate professor, Ph.D.
A.V. Posokhov, associate professor, Ph.D.
Ya.A. Strelkova, associate professor, Ph.D.
M.V. Shimokhina, associate professor, Ph.D. Belgorod state national research university, Belgorod

Key words: hippotherapy, physical rehabilitation, handicapped persons.

According to medical statistics the integral social health index has decreased and the number of handicapped has risen due to the increase of the general sickness rate. The number of handicapped from childhood and especially children under 16 is increasing every year. The handicapped amount to approximately 6% of all people of the world. The immensity and persistence of the quoted processes is its unfavorable feature. The total of handicapped in Russia, allocated by the international method of calculation of persons registered in civil social welfare institutions, is to be a little more than 10 million people. But now the number of handicapped is over 13 million (9% of the country population). Approximately 1 million of people are declared handicapped every year, and many of them are in the active working age [7].

As of January 1st 2011 the number of the handicapped in Russia is 13209, including 541 thousand handicapped children under 18, who get social security pension [8]. Therefore, Russian people have serious problems with health: supermortality; low birth rate; high distribution of socially significant and social pathologies; reproductive health problems; increasing disability with notable human limitations. Deterioration of health of the Russians is caused by numerous factors: eco-fatigue, rise of perinatal and childhood diseases, “rejuvenation of chronic diseases”, intensified by chronization of somatic diseases, arising new pathological symptoms, conditions and diseases, specifics of pathogenesis, acceleration of aging rates and existing chronic stress.

People with multiple disturbances are especially difficult to carry out the rehabilitation process with. Irrespective of the fact either such disturbances are congenital or acquired after an accident, these people need special assistance. In case of many diseases there is still no “exclusive” method of therapy so in such cases new approaches to treatment or improvement of these patients' condition are to be searched.

Culturological, psychological, pedagogical and medical interest in human interaction with a horse has been persistently preserved in the world culture since ancient times. Nearly all peoples had a cult of horse as the oldest best friend of man. Many outstanding men of wisdom paid attention to healing, pedagogical and psychological effects of horse riding.

In the ХХ century in view of objective reasons the research interest was focused on the use of a horse in medical purposes provoking the new direction of hippotherapy in the practice of complex rehabilitation of handicapped children in the institutions of various types.

Hippotherapy (from the Greek word “hippos” which means horse) is a frequently used and the most extensional in its content term, widely used in Russia, defining any kind of using of a horse whilst working with handicapped and sick people [14].

The purpose of physical rehabilitation with use of hippotherapy is psychological integrity and social integration of a person with physical, mental or psychological disturbances, unable to cope with difficulties or its consequences without assistance. Numerous aspects of horse riding are used as a pedagogical method. Adaptive horse riding, when a patient is doing special exercises on a horse, is a method of active effect. The right method is selected in view of severity of disturbances and duration of treatment. Nowadays recommendations, fundamentals and viewpoints of some authors, experts in using of the hippotherapeutic technique (M.Sh. Loria, A. Pevtsov, N. Lukoli, G.L. Mamonov, I. Strauss, A. Kroger, V. Luhmann et al.), and experience of practitioners (V. Mishin, L.K. Grachev, I.Yu. Kazachenko, N.S. Robert, A.I. Denisenko, E. Paalraann et al.) prove that horse riding facilitates harmonious development of muscular corset, motor coordination, forms the sense of balance and helps a person with special requirements in social adaptation.

Proceeding from the studies of the latest psychopedagogical materials, the distribution of hippopedagogical and hippotherapeutic ideas is being expanded in educational and rehabilitation systems of different countries (including Russia). Hippotherapy is widely used in the practice of physical rehabilitation, special pedagogics, education, modern concepts of development of physical culture and sport [1, 10, 12].

As follows from the concept of Ts.Sh. Chkhikvishvili et al. [11], a horse and a sick child with various psychophysiological characteristics contact with each other in the course of hippotherapy creating a firm basis for internal mobilization of the patient. The main idea is that child controls everything subconsciously, by permanent stimulation of inhibition centers, due to the phenomenon of fear of huge animal and falling.

While rehabilitating with the help of “living training simulator” the patient starts gradually and consciously setting a certain goal, so real actions and results received start correlating, laying the basis for self-control since it is an interdependent process based on biofeedback [2].

The interaction of a patient and a horse, caused by horse riding biomechanics, consists in making the same moves by horse rider’s body with the horse on the move as when walking, with the legs of the rider automatically “excluded” from the anti-gravity system. Here the spine is in direct contact with the horse and the rider’s and horse’s gravity centers match on various paces. All this creates the conditions for the child to take the right pose [9]. Herewith muscle activity is optimized making it possible to keep the head in relation to the body, resulting in the redistribution of muscle tone and the decrease of spasticity of the muscles affected. Rhythmical vibrations arising with a horse on the move and provoking hips moved apart are of great importance in hippotherapeutic training. Alternated isometric and isotonic muscular contractions affect all spinal muscle groups and promote creation of muscular corset around it.

A horse on the move provides the transmission of impulses to right body moves to central nervous system, resulting in training and formation of right motor skills while stimulating adequate reflex responses of balancing. An individual gravity system is created promoting development of new postural reflexes and expansion of the proprioceptive afference with the further development of a new motor stereotype [13].

The effect of hippotherapy trainings on horse riders’ physiological body systems, psychoemotional status and bioenergetic balance in the “rider – horse” system has been studied at the department of medicobiological basics of physical culture of Belgorod State University for several years. The most essential and statistically significant divergence was revealed in the study of cardiorespiratory, vegetative and vestibular parameters, changes in emotional background and energy balance of children with marked infantile cerebral paralysis [3, 4]. In this case such hippotherapeutic factors as biomechanical and temperature ones must be of principle importance.

Some tendencies to improvement of the studied indices in children with the compensated type 1 diabetes are marked. It is to be marked that glucose blood concentration decreased from the upper limit, promoting conditions for exercising, to norm by the end of the hippotherapeutic training course [5]. In the opinion of the members of the hippotherapeutic group, in this case the emotional component of trainings was principle, associated with communication with a horse, since children were mentally and physically healthy. Researches were carried out to analyze the influence of hippotherapeutic factors on healthy children and students’ youth [6], approving the positive orientation of physiological and psychoemotional shifts in horse riders.

Thus, hippotherapy is a world widely practiced, noninvasive, nonmedical technology, useful not only in correction of physical troubles and defects, but also rendering a unique effect on all body functions.


  1. Adaptive (rehabilitation) horse riding: study guide for Paris-Nord university /transl. from French. – Мoscow: Мoscow equestrian club for handicapped, 2003. – 200 P. (In Russian)
  2. Ionatamishvili, N.I. Modern approach in development of motor perception by means of hippotherapy in children with infantile cerebral paralysis: Proceedings of the V Internat. conf. "Hippotherapy. Handicapped equestrian sport. Experience and perspectives" / N.I. Ionatamishvili, Kh.Z. Saganelidze, M.Sh, Loria, L.N. Avaliani, I.T. Ushveridze. – St.-Petersburg. NF LVE i IKS, 2012. – P. 24–31. (In Russian)
  3. Klimova, V.K. The effect of horse riding on the mechanisms of rhythm vegetative regulation in children with infantile cerebral paralysis / V.K. Klimova, A.V. Posokhov, V.D. Bukhanov, N.A. Luk'yanov // Fizicheskaya kultura: vospitanie, obrazovanie, trenirovka. – 2009. – № 3. – P. 47–49. (In Russian)
  4. Klimova, V.K. The features of rehabilitation of handicapped using hippotherapy / V.K. Klimova, A.V. Posokhov, V.D. Bukhanov, N.A. Luk'yanov // Kultura fizicheskaya i zdorov'e. – 2009 – № 1. – P. 76–77. (In Russian)
  5. Klimova, V.K. Physical rehabilitation of patients with diabetes using hippotherapy / V.K. Klimova, Ya.A. Strelkova, M.V. Klimova // Teoriya i praktika fizicheskoy kultury. – 2011. – № 10. – P. 34. (In Russian)
  6. Klimova, M.V. The effect of horse riding occupations of the body bioenergetic status of junior horse riders / M.V. Klimova, V.K. Klimova, A.V. Posokhov, L.I. Naumenko, N.A. Luk'yanov //Fizicheskaya kultura: vospitanie, obrazovanie, trenirovka. – 2010. – № 5. – P. 34–38.
  7. Klimova, V.K. Theoretical basics of using of hippotherapy within physical rehabilitation / V.K. Klimova, A.V. Posokhov, N.A. Luk'yanov. – Belgorod, BelSU. – 2008. – 73 P. (In Russian)
  8. Orlova, G.G. Sociomedical characteristics of patients of basic and other rehabilitation centers based on remedial horse riding and handicapped equestrian sport in the RF: Proceedings of the V Internat. conf. "Hippotherapy. Handicapped equestrian sport. Experience and perspectives" /G.G. Orlova, I.E Luk'yanova, A.I. Denisenkov, A.A. Dagaeva. – St.-Petersburg: NF LVE i IKS, 2012. – P. 6–12. (In Russian)
  9. Sladkova, N.A. Terminology, meaning the use of a horse in various spheres of therapeutic and rehabilitation work / "Hippotherapy. Handicapped equestrian sport. Experience and perspectives": Proceedings of the I Internat. conf. / N.A. Sladkova. – St.-Petersburg: Polytechnic university. – 2008. – P. 32–39. (In Russian)
  10. Ustinova, E.V. Analysis of use and perspectives of development of hippotherapeutic and hippopedagogical ideas in Russia and abroad: Proceedings of the V Internat. conf. "Hippotherapy. Handicapped equestrian sport. Experience and perspectives". – St.-Petersburg: NF LVE i IKS, 2012. – P.14–19. (In Russian)
  11. Chkhikvishvili, Ts.Sh. Horse riding in treatment of some forms of infantile cerebral paralysis: Proceedings of the 2nd session on remedial gymnastics and sports medicine of GSSR / Ts.Sh. Chkhikvishvili, T.K. Zhorzholadze, N.D. Kacharava. – Tbilisi, 1986. – P. 46–48. (In Russian)
  12. Barry, J. Ethological Basis of Communication Between Man and Horse. Application to therapeutic riding and analysis of the Mechanisms Utilized: 9th International Therapeutic Riding Congress. / Ch. 28, North American Riding for the Handicapped Association Denver, Colorado. – 1994. – 148 P.
  13. Heiperitz, W. Therapeutic Riding, Kosmos Verlog, Stutgard., 1989, s. 55–65.
  14. Kellogg, W.G., Cruk, B. Aspects and answers. Manual for therapeutic Horseback Riding programs. Chepp. Certre. 1988, P. 1–183.; Klimova, M.V. Influence of riding training on the bioenergetics status of an organism of young horseback riders./ M.V. Klimova, V.K. Klimova, A.V. Posochov, L.I. Naumenko, N.А. Luk’yanov // Fizicheskaya kultura: vospitanie, obrazovanie, trenirovka. – No. 5, 2010. – P. 34-38.