Hippotherapy for Mexico’s health workers during the pandemic

There’s a really nice photograph in The Times today of a man receiving equine therapy which I have taken the liberty to publish here. He’s cuddling the horse and I’m sure he feels a lot better for it. There’s a lot of talk in the news nowadays, certainly in the UK, about mental health problems because of the coronavirus pandemic. People who are predisposed to anxiety can develop greater anxieties because of the various stresses induced by the dramatic change to our lifestyles due to the pandemic. This is particularly so with respect to younger people and frontline health workers, too, are under a lot of stress.

Sad example of anxieties

An example is an undergraduate at the University of Manchester who appears to have taken his life in the halls of residence where he lived. He was 19-years-of-age and suffered from severe anxiety his father revealed. His name is Finn Kitson. A terribly sad story and his father, an economist at the Cambridge Judge Business School tweeted that the Covid-19 pandemic was a significant contributor.

Hippotherapy for Mexico's health workers
Hippotherapy for Mexico’s health workers. Photo: EDGARD GARRIDO/REUTERS.


In the light of that background, it is interesting and pleasing to note that in Mexico they are offering health workers equine therapy. Equine therapy is a very long-standing form of treatment. It goes back to ancient Greece and is called hippotherapy from the ancient Greek ‘hippos’ which today is used as a prefix “hippo” to mean relating to horses.

Animal therapy is very popular and very successful. Working with horses is a version of animal therapy. You don’t have to ride the horse but you interact with him or her. As they are big and powerful overcoming any fears that you might have when interacting with a horse represents a success and can boost self-esteem. This is an example of how it works.

Initially hippotherapy concerned physiotherapy for people with physical disabilities. It developed into psychological therapy. Horses are also suited to the role because they are herd animals and therefore readily accept being led. There are social animals and like to create bonds. This motivation is likely to help a person who perhaps is feeling alienated. Horses also are able to mirror the thoughts and behaviours of others. If you approach a horse with calm confidence and openness the horse responds positively. This no doubt helps a person to become more positive. And of course it is fun to interact with horses and other animals. It helps bring people out of their gloom, anxiety and negativity.

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