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Equine-facilitated physiotherapy – devised encounters with daring and compassion

By Tobba Therkildsen Sudmann

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Physiotherapy with horses and rider-patients builds on communication and interaction through groundwork and mounted work. This chapter discusses outdoor equine-facilitated physiotherapy on green care farms with three patients representing ideal types from the author’s clinical practice. The practice of co-creation and improvisation, i.e. devising, is used to discuss how the triad of physiotherapist, rider and horse, work together to support the rider’s step-by-step changes towards better health. Being with horses facilitates exploration of communicative strategies and embodied ways of being, whilst nature and physical activities add value to the therapeutic benefits. Horses represent risk and desire, as does the facing of bodily constraints or habits. Physiotherapy equine-facilitated physiotherapy 195 aims to facilitate a purposefully created change by playing with daring (out-of-the-ordinary experiences when usual boundaries are pushed) and compassion. Therapist, rider and horse face dares and desire together by experimenting, improvising, and testing new modes of co-being and becoming. The ideas and tools from applied drama (i.e. collaborative creation and contact improvisation) tune human and horse bodies to communication and action. Outdoor practice and devising equip physiotherapists with a larger toolbox for a playful practice.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2018
Publication Title Manipulating practices: A critical physiotherapy reader
Pages 25
ISBN/ISSN 9788202550011
Publisher Cappelen Damm Akademisk
URL http://hdl.handle.net/11250/2581347
Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal-assisted activities
  2. Animal-assisted therapies
  3. Horses
  4. Mammals
  5. open access
  1. open access