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Rhythmic Breathing in Equine Therapy

Complementary strategies of relaxation in Equine Therapy

Many times Equine Therapy is applied to alleviate the negative effects of diseases or conditions on patients. However, to help accelerate the processes of improvement or rehabilitation, it is necessary to combine with other complementary strategies such as relaxation for patients receiving this type of alternative therapy. In this article we will specifically address Rhythmic Breathing.

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Main functions of the therapist to promote Rhythmic Breathing

One of the most common problems in equine therapy is hypertone muscle (involuntary muscle contractions) is mild or severe, it produces spasticity.

One of the main functions of the therapist is to promote muscle relaxation in the patient (this is often due to a relaxed psychic state) so that he can take the correct alignment and receive the therapeutic benefits provided by the horse.

Since ancient times, relaxation methods have played an important role in healing art. Nowadays, very efficient methods are known, from the ancient orientals to the modern western ones, which are combined in the old ones.

Rhythmic Breathing in Equine Therapy
Rhythmic Breathing in Equine Therapy

Rhythmic Breathing

In this article, Rhythmic Respiration is described as one of the relaxation methods of patients with muscle hypertonia. This method is done during horseback riding.

Most human beings are clear that good breathing is key to our health. This must be a deep breath that integrates abdominal, intercostal and clavicular breathing. Even to get to control a very strong pain or a moment of crisis, proper breathing is the most appropriate.

Riding on horseback (especially trotting) favors deep breathing on its own, but the therapist also has Rhythmic Breathing at his fingertips as a therapeutic method to achieve faster muscle relaxation. The basis of the exercise is exhalation, not inhalation. It is essential that you exhale all the air from your lungs and concentrate completely on your expiration, which should always be done through your mouth. The stronger the exhalation, the deeper the inspiration becomes with the consequent increase in oxygen

When using the step and the trot the therapist gives the example rhythmically exhaling with the rhythm of the movement of the horse, it does not matter if he is working with the patient in twin mount or from the floor

When working with children they are instructed to blow a lit candle rhythmically or to blow a small whistle

Breathing Horse
Breathing Horse

Effects of rhythmic exhalation

  • The horse begins to snort loudly, relaxing its muscles, especially the ventral one, which encourages the patient’s deep seat.
  • Then, the rider relaxes the abdominal and pelvic muscles and begins to use abdominal and intercostal breathing.
  • The rider captures the rhythm of the horse’s movement easier, achieving greater adaptation to the movement.

The therapist, making use of strong and long exhalations during the corrective movements of muscular stretching, will be surprised by the relaxing effects on the patient’s musculature that facilitate body alignment

Stimulation of abdominal breathing

Abdominal breathing is stimulated mainly by putting the trunk back. The therapist can apply the tapping: this method is based on the idea that mental attention is concentrated where the hand touches the body. By gently and rhythmically pressing the area of the navel. The patient’s stomach, changes in abdominal breathing with a relaxing effect in this area. Then, the patient’s psychic state are immediately noticed.

As we learned in this article, Rhythmic Breathing in Equine Therapy is fundamental for the recovery of patients. It not only helps correcting defects in breathing but also promotes relaxation of muscle tone. Relaxation, trust and the link between the patient and the horse are the key to therapy. Equine therapy is one of the modern tools for healing.




Gross, E. (2006). Equinoterapia: la rehabilitación por medio del caballo. Sevilla. Editorial: Trillas.


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