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"It is a wonderful experience to be out in the nature on the horse"

Franziska from Switzerland, shares her love for hippotherapy - physiotherapy on a horse and the benefits it has for her and her MS symptoms.

Franziska riding her house

Hi there, my name is Franziska. I’m 45 years old and I’m a mother of two teenagers. I live in Switzerland in a little house with my husband, our two children, our cat and a hamster. I work both as a supporter for pharmacy software and as a hypnosis therapist in our own little practice. My husband and I completed the training as hypnosis therapists as a second education. My hobbies are reading, singing, riding, animals, friends and nature. 

Receiving a diagnosis

I was diagnosed with MS in 2008, but the doctors told me that I already had MS long before. My first symptom optic neuritis with double vision was in 1998 after the death of my father. Today I have walking issues and spasticity in my legs, some days I am able to walk better and some days I don’t. For my safety I use a cane to walk outside. One year ago, I fell on my right shoulder and broke it three times. Since then, I am a little afraid of falling over. But I think positive, and self-hypnosis helps me to stay strong and always find new motivation and solutions. 

I learned about OMS on Instagram and then immediately Googled it with interest. Now I am reading the book in German and I am about to implement the program in my life. I believe in healthy eating, mental wellbeing, exercising and neuroplasticity. Each morning I exercise in my basement. There I have an elliptical trainer, a mini trampoline and a home trainer. I do some walking, elliptical trainer and balance exercises. 

My passion of hippotherapy 

I love hippotherapy - physiotherapy on a horse. Each Wednesday I visit a farm nearby my home where a lot of Icelandic horses live. To get on the horse there is a ramp and so it is very easy to mount on the horse even with a disability. I then ride on the horse for 45 minutes mostly without holding on and follow the horse's movements as relaxed as possible.

The physiotherapist walks next to the horse, checks my posture and gives me instructions to feel each movement in my own body. The horse is guided by another person. So we are three people and one horse.  It is important to feel each movement and that it feels like I am walking not the horse. 

The size of the horse is relevant, Icelandic horses have the ideal size to fit the human movement. It is a wonderful experience to be out in the nature on the horse and it is very helpful for spasticity and balance. For me this therapy is like a holiday or a gift, I enjoy this very much. 

Most I enjoy to be outside, see the green of the nature and that I can move forward much faster and easier as if I were walking by myself. In my opinion the three goals of this therapy are: the movements of the horse that reactivate my senses, muscles and brain, the social interaction with the animal, the therapist and the horse guide and the mental aspect: I am proactive, I enjoy the quietness, the good feelings and the nature. So, it’s a holistic therapy for body and soul. 

Last but not least the horses are especially and time-consumingly trained for that purpose. They must be very calm and concentrated and they must tolerate noise. In Switzerland, this therapy is paid by health care upon prescription, if you are diagnosed with MS or for children with cerebral paresis. 

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Bess (not verified)

Your hippo therapy sounds wonderful. I would like it very much. Great that the government pays for it too. I wish you good success with it. I have been diagnosed with PPMS, am eagerly awaiting spring here in Ontario. I am looking forward to walking (trails on 25 acres) and what gardening that l can manage. Thanks for sharing. BESS

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