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Hippo therapy for wounded military

Illustration: #DashaFilippova

A large number of Ukrainian defenders return from combat missions with injuries and wounds, as well as in a difficult psychological state. Soldiers need therapy and care to recover. This is precisely why spaces such as Verkhy v Maybutnie (Riding to the Future) in Lviv work. There, horse riding classes and yoga on horses are arranged for veterans.

The Riding to the Future project was founded by Oleksandra, a Chinese language teacher and hippotherapy specialist, together with her husband, Vasyl. Since 2014, Vasyl fought in the east of Ukraine with Russian militants, and in February 2022 he joined the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine again to defend the country from a full-scale invasion. Most of the project team have relatives on the front lines, some are recovering from injuries. Therefore, military rehabilitation is a close topic for Oleksandra and her colleagues.

Working with a horse starts with something simple: to approach, make eye contact, pet and feed. After that, veterans are taught how to properly sit on an animal and manage it. Flexibility exercises and strength training are also performed on a horse's back. This not only improves the physical and psychological condition of a person, but also allows them to get to know their body after an injury. After all, now many of the military who are engaged in hippotherapy are people with musculoskeletal disorders and amputated limbs.

Horses at Riding to the Future have been working with people with disabilities, in particular with children, for many years. So the animals are trained to wait patiently while a person gets used to the new height, move calmly and unhurriedly.

Oleksandra makes sure that defenders of Ukraine understand their importance not only on the front line, but also in the process of rehabilitation after hostilities. For her, the Riding to the Future project is a manifestation of gratitude to everyone who defends the country.


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