General News: Horse riding therapy, an alternative form of rehabilitation

Therapeutic horse-riding is an alternative form of rehabilitation for people with a disability, with one of children's most loved animals, the horse, as the vehicle for therapy.
The newest of Greece's two Riding Therapy Centers opened four years ago in the town of Skopos, in Serres prefecture, and has gone from serving just four physically and mentally challenged persons to 40 people weekly today, from all over Northern Greece.

The facility currently comprises eight horses and more than 150 volunteer members, and its function is to help improve the health and standard of living of people with physical, mental and emotional disorders.

Riding therapy specialist, coach and physical therapist at the Serres Horse Riding Therapy Center (KETHIS) Maria Ligga told ANA-MPA that the "protagonist" in the entire effort is the horse.

Through its movement, the horse conveys to the rider with a disability a smooth rhythm, improves the rider's coordination of movement, balance, muscular tone and even psychology, while horse riding itself, as an activity, brings harmony among the body, psyche and mind, according to Ligga.

The KETHIS Association was founded in December 2005, while the center itself opened in September 2007.
Therapeutic horse riding is the first form of therapy with animals to be applied informally in Greece, since 1983 when the Association of Horse Riding Therapy was first set up and opened the first such Center in Goudi in 2004.
KETHIS took part in the 2007 Special Olympics in China, winning four bronze medals, and will also actively participate in this year's Special Olympics in Athens.

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