Hungkuang University has devised a range of interdisciplinary courses, holding its first course on “equine therapy and its applications” in September. The university invited German consultant Uta Rindfleisch-Wu and physical therapist Wang Tze-hsuan of the Therapeutic Riding Center of Taiwan to give a lecture, and arranged for 40 teachers and students to go to the riding center and have a go at riding and leading horses to see how horses can be used for rehabilitation. By completing the course and the horse-riding experience, the students discovered how riding can be used to strengthen one’s muscles and one’s sense of balance, as well as how it can help physically and mentally disabled people and the elderly.
Chen Chih-ming, an associate professor in Hungkuang University’s Department of Physical Therapy, said that horse riding is often used to help disabled people gain muscular strength and improve their balance and ability to perform everyday activities, and that it is an effective form of rehabilitation. Chen said that as Taiwan becomes an aging society, more and more uses are being found for horse riding, which is something that the elderly can also engage in.
Chen said that the visit to the riding center taught the teachers and students a lot about horseback riding, from learning about horses’ characteristics and how to care for them to getting into the saddle themselves. Since this riding center in Taoyuan is the only one in Taiwan that offers regular therapy sessions, it is hoped that this course will encourage more teachers and students to learn about the therapeutic uses of horse riding. The department is planning to design further interdisciplinary courses for the benefit of other teachers and students in future.
Photo copied by Chang Hsuan–che, Liberty Times 照片：自由時報張軒哲翻攝
In her talk, Rindfleisch-Wu described how therapeutic horse riding can transform riders’ muscle tone, posture, core strength and balance. She said that horse riding helps people to feel how their pelvis tilts, so that they can learn to walk more stably. In the course of riding, therapeutic effects can be gained from the horse’s repetitive movements, with continuous repetitions for each gait. For this reason, many Taiwanese parents of disabled children take advantage of the critical period for rehabilitative treatment by taking their children to the center for therapeutic horseback riding.
(Translated by Julian Clegg, Taipei Times)
DID YOU KNOW?
For historical and cultural reasons, the English language has many words and phrases related to horses. For example, a male horse is called a stallion and female is called a mare. Small breeds of horse such as those ridden by children are called ponies. A young horse or pony is called a foal.
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