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October 06, 2017 06:14 PM

Hippotherapy: Therapy On Horses

Sioux Falls, SD

Many people know that horses can be a therapeutic animal, and at HorsePower in Sioux Falls, the animals are changing lives. 

HorsePower offers hippo therapy, which helps a wide variety of patients on a one on one basis. 

Nine-year-old Josiah Molettiere was born with a rare medical condition, agenesis of the corpus callosum. This means Josiah is missing the tissue that connects both sides of the brain. On top of that, he also has a rare chromosome disorder. He began doing hippotherapy at the age of 3 to help with his walking, balance, and social interaction. 

"His coordination is better, and just his following directions is better because they do a lot of that here. He's having to reach for things," Mom Lisa Molettiere said. 

Lisa drives Josiah more than an hour once a week to his therapy. She says it's the highlight of his week. 

"He's done the traditional OT, PT, speech therapy... But this is the therapy that he enjoys the most," Molettiere said. 

Josiah's therapist has worked with him for the last two years and says she's very happy with his progress.

"Huge increase in standing to touch the horse and to help brush him. Huge increase in taking notice of the activities that we do in the arena," Tammy Doan said.

The overall goal of the therapy is to help patients increase their level of independence. Doan says there is a big difference between hippotherapy and the therapy done inside a clinic.

"It's highly repetitive, it's very rhythmical. So, for instance a horse on average will take 100 steps per minute, when a 25 minute session that's 2500 repetitions," Doan said.

Riding a horse can be very therapeutic in more ways than just the ride, such as grooming or even bonding.

"Just a connection that he doesn't have with any other person or animal," Molettiere said. 

If you'd like to help fundraise so Josiah can continue hippo therapy, you can participate in tomorrows 5-K Hippo Hop. For more information about the 5k, click here. To register, click here. 

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