//Verbal suggestion in Equine Therapy: A complementary strategy for relaxation
Hillary Duff Whispers

Verbal suggestion in Equine Therapy: A complementary strategy for relaxation

One of the keys to success in riding is the connection between the horse and the rider. For this it is necessary that the rider be completely confident and relaxed. Likewise, relaxation is one of the keys to the success of Equine Therapy in patients. Achieving this relaxation is not easy and for this multiple strategies are used. The equinotherapy itself is designed to achieve relaxation with the heat of the horse and the cadence of it, however sometimes this is not enough for the stress of the patient. That is why today we will study a very important tool to contribute to the relaxation of the rider-patient. Today we will know the verbal suggestion.

What is verbal suggestion?

In the current era there are many books on the topics of the use of suggestion and mental autosuggestion to overcome self. In this way, various psychosomatic diseases are treated with auto-suggestion methods. The method of repetition suggestive of positive orders can also be of great support for equine therapy.

How is verbal suggestion applied in Equine Therapy?

The hypertonic patient (neuromuscular tension problem) usually strives so hard to achieve what he wants, that the same effort blocks proper coordination of movement. This can be the product of laterality disorders or other psychomotor problems

Spectrum of muscular control and tension
Spectrum of muscular control and tension

Hypertonic patients are agile and fast, they capture everything immediately and if they do not grasp it, they can invent it. They are people who want to do everything at once and that causes them tension. They are restless people, they remain in a state of turmoil and for this reason it is difficult for them to be constant and concentrate.

Due to this degree of excitement they maintain a high degree of muscular tension reaching rigidity. That is why relaxation is fundamental for this type of patients and verbal suggestion may be the key.

Most people motivate him with words like “walk, strong, squeeze, etc” but to make a more or less coordinated movement, be it hands, arms or legs, first you need to relax the contracted muscles and acquire normal muscle tone , then the desired movement becomes easy and light.

Because of this, and as we will see below, the words used to motivate this type of patient must be appropriate to the psychomotor condition imposed by hypertonia. Let’s see below how to do it.

Verbal suggestion on Equine Therapy
Verbal suggestion on Equine Therapy

How to apply verbal suggestion in patients with hypertonia?

The horse is very helpful in this process because the patient is asked to be carried away by the horse. Little by little the patient learns that the horse is the one that works and moves through it, and that it can easily advance in space without effort.

Using the words “easy, soft, light” in a repetitive way, the patient begins to desist from his excessive effort resulting from hypertonia. In this condition the patient is able to acquire an adequate muscle tone through relaxation.

Relaxation is the basis for learning a coordinated and correct motor pattern over time. Convincing the patient that moving is easy, we can help him to let the horse do the work and “show” which is the correct psychomotor coordination pattern. Physical work will record this in the patient’s mind and “learn by doing”

Guided Deep Muscle Relaxation

Exercises to stimulate Verbal Suggestion

When performing the neuromuscular exercises the therapist can repeat rhythmically in a soft and low voice “it is easy”, “my arm is relaxed”, “soft”. These verbal commands and many others, to the therapist’s consideration, gradually penetrate into the patient’s mind, contributing to their relaxation.

In addition, they can be reinforced at home with similar verbal commands. With this, the achieved achievements concerning the relaxation and the improvement of the incorrect motor patterns are surprising.

This also applies to cases of hypotonia, in which case strong words given loud and firm will be used. This increases mental and physical attention. Sometimes patients cooperate extraordinarily and learn from the system of mental auto-suggestion, using it also outside Equine Therapy sessions. Applying verbal suggestion and autosuggestion both inside and outside Equine Therapy sessions we can accelerate the progress of the patient.

Verbal suggestion: the power of the word

The Power of Words
The Power of Words

Finally, we should not forget the positive stimulus to the patient by means of the words “very well”, “beautiful”, “perfect”. The recognition at all times of the even more insignificant achievements are of great importance for therapy. These work as feedback and produce joy, motivation and cooperation in the patient.

As we have seen through the article, the word has power. There is a saying that says that “the words are blown by the wind”, but the verbal suggestion shows us the opposite.

By knowing the power of the word we must also take care to say the right words so as not to cause harm, because both good and bad words have the same power. Hands on the job we will take full advantage of that healing effect of the words well chosen and well said.






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


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