Xénophon said at the V century b.C « The horse is a good teacher, not only for the body but also for the spirit and the heart ».
The equinetherapy is a mental care based on the presence of a horse as a therapeutic mediator.
The equinetherapy appeared for the first time in 1955 in Norway. It was not until 1967 that this therapeutic approach combining the horse and the human-being arrives in France. The objective of the equinetherapy concerns the reduction of psychopathological symptoms, wellness, the feeling of comfort. The methods used during the sessions are from twofold:
• psychic speech, words, meaning, emotional sharing and transfer.
• physical sensation, body language and movement.
The horse is used as a mediator, as a sweet living being, socially rewarding , which allows the patient to come into contact with someone who does not judge or give an opinion. The meeting with the horse, the touch, create a close communication between the patient and the animal. It is not always necessary to get on the horse and non-riders can also practice equinetherapy because the horse is sometimes used simply to establish a contact, touch has a major role in this type of therapy. These qualities make not the horse a therapist, but a tool used by a therapist that open opportunities, and make possible the improvement of mental diseases or discomfort. We visited an equinetherapy center here in Argentina, called Suyai (hope in a language tribe) and we have asked a few questions to one of the founders.
Since how long do you do this type of therapy?
The school was created in 2007 by my wife and myself. We collaborate with Argentine Association of handicapped persons through which we always find new volunteers to join us. Today we are 12, 10 volunteers and us. These volunteers work only on weekends and usually are students of the Faculty of Science and Athletic Abilities of Buenos Aires.
How many horses do you have? Do they need to have special characteristics to be a horse used for equinotherapy?
At the moment we have 8 male horses between 13 and 25 years. Most of them are Criollos (Argentine race) because they have a capacity of understanding and training easily compared to others types of horses.
How do you prepare these horses to equinotherapy?
The horse training last from 6 to 8 months. Usually we proceed with a doll who weights around 45 kg so that the horse begins to feel its weight but especially gets used to a different gesture or non controlable movements.
What are the types of techniques used?
We use mainly three types of techiques: therapeutic riding, riding and traditional equinotherapy. This depends mainly on the type of students we have, and theirs capabilities.
What types of disabilities do you work with?
We have now 75 students in the center. Among them 80% are autistic children and adults, many downs but also some war veterans of the Malvinas Islands.
How long is a session? What are the rules to follow during the session?
A session last around 45 minutes but this also depends on the type of disability of the student. The student is always surrounded by at least two professors of physical education and sport. For security issues an ambulance is always around and each student is covered by the center’s insurance. What are the first visible results among students? We must wait 8 or 9 equinotherapy sessions to see results. You should know that we are working primarily on the physical side because we are not doctors but sports teachers. This have a positive improvement also on the psycological side of the alumnl.
How do you collect money? Do you have government subsidies?
We do not perceive any government assistance, we received donations. For example, the municipality provided us light and water for free and we receive also horses donations. Students pay a fee of 400 pesos in case they can afford it and if not everything is free.
Discover here the pictures of the Suyai Equinotherapia center.
A famous 10 goals Handicap player offered a retired horse to the Associacion.
Alexis organized a meeting with the director of the disable department of the Ministery of Work to find some help from the Argentine governement.
Suyai Association would need one more horse, some grass and vaccine, if you want to help, you can send a donation.
You can also contact us to provide some horse food.
Thank you to Esther and Amado, who received us with such kindness !