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Equine therapy helps children with disabilities gain balance, confidence

Treatment centers across the world for children with disabilities have been working on combining equine therapy, which allows children to interact with horses, in combination with traditional physical therapy.

"Hippotherapy" is used at the Berke Ranch Hotel and Horse Farm in Turkey to help children with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and autism. Families worldwide seek out the ranch, where their children can mount and ride horses while guided by physiotherapists.

Therapist Koray ??cano?lu, speaking to Today's Zaman, noted that "the body temperature, walking rhythm and movement of the horse create a massage effect on the vertebrae and hips of children who are required to stay in bed for long hours."

The rhythmic sounds of the horse's walk can help autistic children, who may have difficulty concentrating, to focus. Other children in rehabilitation can improve their walking ability and balance, and also build their self-confidence by riding the large animals.

Those who want to give to animals might be interested in donating to causes related to equine therapy, as many neglected, injured and rescued horses are rehabilitated for such use. In 2009 alone, the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International boasted 4,822 horses in its therapy centers across the States. 
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