A project has been initiated with the aim of operating a center to apply "hippotherapy" (or equine-assisted therapy) in Turkey and to train experts in the field. Pilot studies conducted at Istanbul University's Faculty of Veterinary Science and supported by five different ministries, have been carried out. The hippotherapy studies, through which therapists make use of the movements of horses working on patient groups with physical, mental or emotional disorders, were conducted at the Avcılar Campus of Istanbul University Faculty for three years.
Dean of the faculty, Professor Güven Kaşıkçı, remarked that in recent years several studies were conducted on the therapy, however in Turkey it is not taken seriously. "What is being done in Turkey is just to bring horses together with the patient and make the patients ride a horse for a while. To be able to make use of this method of equine-assisted therapy, firstly we have to make the horses suitable for the disabled. In Turkey, people think that they apply hippotherapy by just making the patient ride a horse. There is no tangible data about the number of patients healed with this method. It is a must in hippotherapy to make an assessment and evaluation," said Kaşıkçı.
Reiterating that the method applied in Turkey is difficult to work in terms of rehabilitation, Kaşıkçı stated that it could be beneficial just for the psychology of the patients. At the department, which will be operating at the Avcılar Campus of Istanbul University, a rehabilitation center will be brought into force. Patients can be accommodated at the center throughout the treatment. There will be evaluations made on the patients before and after they ride the horses. Thanks to the robotic treatment method, the advisors will prepare the patients to make them ready to ride horses with the help of robots. "If you cannot heal a person totally, all the work you conducted counts for nothing," said Kaşıkçı after giving information on the center.
As part of the pilot studies of the project, it is planned to include students of the Faculty of Veterinary Science in the studies and give them certificates on hippotherapy. Under the context of the pilot studies, disabled students are made to ride horses from time to time. The construction studies of the facility will be started after the budget assigned at the conclusion of the study. Deputy manager and instructor of the Veterinary Vocational School, İbrahim Kurban, stated that they initiated the first pilot study under the context of the international project with the students of Avcılar Special Education Application Center operating under the Ministry of National Education.