Horseback Riding

alberto gatti a cavallo

I go horseback riding with ANFFAS ONLUS in Modena.  I would like to explain to you, not in a technical way but from the point of view of a disabled person, why equestrian activity is important for a disabled person, to do this I want to tell you how it takes place.As often happens, the activity does not start when you go on the horse, but a little earlier, that is, in the saddling and mounting the horse. This is usually done by the instructors, but many times they get help from the stable boys. This is because knowing the horse and also in taking care of its body leads to greater interaction with the animal. These animals are usually very tame, because they are elderly and instead of being sent to the slaughterhouse, they are trained for therapeutic use and destined for various associations. Furthermore, they are animals that tend to have never competed, but are used for private purposes. This is because the horse that plays sports is also fed with herbs that induce greater performance.

After the preparation and saddling, there is the most difficult part, that is when you get on the horse.  Here I want to stop for a moment: for a person who is always in the same position, making such a strong change involves a total phase shift of both physical and emotional balance.  This is the purpose of the horse, in a life often dictated by daily habits (not to be denigrated) the horse is a break in this rhythm because it is alive and has emotions like a human being, but it doesn’t have an ego and super-ego controlling primitive instincts, so it’s pure instinct, that’s where the beauty is.

Once you get on the horse there is the phase of adaptation with his body but also with yours that has taken on a new position, for this reason the training with the physiotherapist is important because it helps you to find balance.  Indeed, the length stirrups are important too because if they are too short or too long it can upset the precise way in how you are able to give orders to the horse. After a few minutes the muscles relax and the real pleasure of riding begins

The activities that are done on the horse are many, paradoxically the most difficult one is to stay still, especially while eating, because when the horse walks, its undulate keeps you in balance, however when it eats it is you who must remain in balance. Of course the therapists and the instructors offer you some assistance but it is difficult to pull the horse out while it is ruminating, because the stomach is never full!

Even in hippotherapy it is very much a performing part. We too make obstacles, skittles and barriers and the instructors invent paths with stages. When the weather allows everything is done in the open air which for us disabled accustomed to being mostly indoors, is a huge breath of fresh air!

In short, the horse is not only therapy, but also harmony with ourselves and others.