The XV World Congress of Horses in Education and Therapy (HETI) was held at Aletheia University in New Taipei City from June 22-25, 2015. The main spirit of equine assisted activities and therapies (EAAT), also known as hippotherapy or therapeutic horseback riding, is to assist people with special needs for physical, mental, emotional, or communicative functions through their interactions with horses or horseback riding. The past 14 congresses took place only in Europe, and this is the first time ever that HETI has held their world congress in Asia.
The Federation of Horses in Education and Therapy International (HETI), founded in 1980 under the name Federation of Riding for the Disabled International (FRDI), is the world’s premier equine assisted activities association with 48 group members along with personal members from 47 countries. HETI, in addition to publishing scientific journals, holds their world congress once every three years. The mission is to, through the release of recent scientific research, publicize the benefits of horses to human beings and further boost the support of professional development from government authorities as well as the general public towards assisting disabled people.
Over 200 experts from home and abroad participated in the congress held in Danshui, New Taipei City. Laurentia Tan, two bronze-medals winner at the Beijing Paralympic Games, was the opening speaker on the “Influence of My Success as a Para Equestrian on the Society in Singapore” and shared with the audience how her efforts changed the stereotype of disabled people in Singapore society. Keynote speeches as well as workshops were organized for the first two days of the congress, and world leading EAAT experts introduced the latest theories and practices information. Dr. Andrew McLean gave a keynote speech on “Training Principles that Arise from Learning Theory”, and Dr. Gabriela Wagner focused on the topic “Loosening-up, Swinging, Rotating – How to Train on the Ball for Better Riding”. At the workshop, Julia Battams spoke about the “Use of the Pressure Pad for Coaching and Research”, while Roslein Wilkes introduced the equestrian disciplines for the Special Olympics. In addition, Joseph Driessen shared his experiences on how to let the horse do the work to change troubled students. The second part of the congress covered oral and poster presentations from international researchers and several scientific forums, one of which focused on the influence of ICF (International Classification of Function) on equine assisted activities practice as well as its use as an assessment tool for equine assisted activities performance research.
Through holding this international event, the organizer of the HETI Congress promoted the progress and new trends of EAAT and therapeutic horseback riding worldwide to the medical, social welfare, and educational societies as well as other related authorities in Taiwan and Asia. Eventually more disabled people can gain assistance through the promotion of equine assisted activities and therapies.
For more information, please visit the website at http://heti2015.org