農医連携教育研究センター 研究ブランディング事業



Kitasato University
Newsletter of the President Office
July 1, 2010
Newsletter: Agriculture, Environment, and Medicine No.56
The Proceedings of
The Seventh Agromedicine Symposium in Kitasato University
March 4, 2010
Health and the Coexistence of Humans with Animals
Welcome Address Tadayoshi Shiba
Tadayoshi Shiba
President, Kitasato University

  Allow me to make a few remarks as representative of the organizer in relation to Kitasato University's 7th Agromedicine Symposium.

  The prospectus of the Japanese Society for Animal-Assisted Education and Therapy starts with the following words from the 19th century French historian, Jules Michelet: "Life is lighted and kindled by life, and extinguished by isolation. The more it mingles with lives different from itself, the more it empathizes with other existences, and the stronger, happier, and more fecund is its own existence." Just as people need each other to lead truly fulfilling lives, they can also gain even more emotional fulfillment through their relationships with other animals.

  In 1999, the World Health Organization proposed amending its definition of health to "a dynamic state of complete physical, mental, spiritual and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." In the end the amendment, which added the words "dynamic" and "spiritual", was not adopted, but as society becomes ever more complex, the spiritual aspect of health is sure to gain in importance.

  In Japan too, animal-assisted education, activities, and therapy have for some time been used in the research of spiritual aspects of health. As a result, these methods are now beginning to win recognition for the major role that they can play in promoting human health, complementing medical treatment, enabling elderly and disabled people to lead normal lives, and ensuring the healthy physical and emotional development of children.

  However, many aspects in Japan, including animal assistance methods based on a firm understanding of the traits and behavior of the animals concerned, public hygiene assessment, and code of ethics are still not at a level sufficient to drive the development of animal assisted education, activities, and therapy. 

  If the 20th century is regarded as the century of technological advance, the 21st century will perhaps be regarded as the century of technology-driven ecological advance and an age that saw the integration of technology and ecology. It may also well become an age in which people seek to leverage the physical sciences to achieve spiritual enrichment and fulfillment. 

  It is from this perspective that we chose the theme of "Health and the Coexistence of Humans with Animals" for this year's symposium in the hope that it contributes to the advance of agromedicine. I would like express my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has agreed to present papers at this symposium, which will I hope serve as a forum for practical and meaningful discussion that leads to new ideas and suggestions with respect to the theme of human health and coexistence between animals and humans. 

The Spirituality of Humans and Animals Katsu Minami
Katsu Minami

What is spirituality?(References 1, 2)

  In the preamble of its Constitution, the World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity".

  Later WHO's 1998 Executive Board discussed an amendment that added the words "dynamic" and "spiritual" to define health as "a dynamic state of complete physical, mental, spiritual and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity", but in the end this amendment was not adopted.".

  Before discussing the above amendment to its definition of health, WHO had already debated the issue of spirituality with respect to palliative care, which it defines as "the active total care of patients whose disease is not responsive to curative treatment. Control of pain, of other symptoms, and of psychological, social and spiritual problems is paramount." In short, WHO also clearly recognizes the importance of addressing spiritual problems.

  WHO describes spirituality as: "those aspects of human life relating to experiences that transcend sensory phenomena. It is not the same as 'religious,' though for many people the spiritual dimension of their lives includes a religious component. The spiritual aspect of human life may be viewed as an integrating component, holding together the physical, psychological and social components. It is often perceived as being concerned with meaning and purpose and, for those nearing the end of life, this is commonly associated with a need for forgiveness, reconciliation and affirmation of worth." In the 2008 edition of its Guidebook to Cancer Palliative Care, the Japan Medical Association explains spirituality in terms of "questioning the meaning and value of life."
   The mass media overemphasize the mystical and paranormal aspects of spirituality, giving the word "spiritual" an image that obscures its real meaning, which has more to do with transcending oneself to grasp the meaning and purpose of life, to live in awe of nature and appreciate the continuity of life. The word also embraces many other elements and nuances related to individual belief, culture, religion and so forth, and could be applied to such diverse acts as paying respects at a grave, coexisting with animals, appreciating the beauty of flowers, making offerings to the dead, and saying a simple grace at the dinner table. 

Is a common definition possible? (References 3-6)

  Harold G. Koenig, a scholar who has applied a rigorously scientific approach to studying the influence of spirituality on health, is the author of a book titled Medicine, Religion, and Health: Where Science and Spirituality Meetthat has been translated into Japanese by Yoshihiko Sugioka of Asahikawa Medical College. This book provides an overview of the scientific research carried out to date in this field in language that makes it accessible also to a general readership. 
  Koenig provides two definitions of the word "spirituality" ̄one for the purpose of studying the relationship between spirituality and health, and one for applying research findings to the actual care of patients. In addition to his own definitions, Koenig introduces the definitions of a number of renowned scholars in this field, and they show a great diversity.
   Definitions of spirituality contain a great many concepts related to meaning, purpose, contentment, salvation, bonds with others, beliefs and values, feelings of wonder, awe, love, forgiveness and gratitude, support and other wholesome, affirmative terminology. Spirituality is in effect a word that can be defined in any way according to the purpose of the person defining it. This kind of scope is very useful for clinical purposes, but can be very confusing from the research perspective.
   Judging from the present situation, the chances that we will be able to agree on a common definition for spirituality in the near future look very slim, but loose usage of the word is problematic from the perspective of research methodology. Research on health that includes spirituality requires a new clarity and specificity if it is to further our knowledge. In this respect, when we talk about the coexistence between animals and humans that is the subject of this symposium, we should probably use already established psychological terms such as humanitarian, educational, and educational psychology.
   It was against this backcloth that the Japan Society of Spiritual Carewas established in 2007. Its prospectus includes the following words: "Based on the premise that all people possess spirituality, this Society believes that the practice of spiritual care in a way that transcends the boundaries between medicine, religion, welfare, education, industry and other spheres is a process that probes the meaning of the depths of spirituality. The Society aims to contribute to the resolution of the many problems faced by present-day society through elucidating the theoretical and practical issues of spirituality." This symposium could be viewed as coming under this agenda.

 The relationship between healthcare and animals (References 7-13)

  The study of the relationship between animals and man had until quite recently been largely the territory of cultural anthropology, but scholars in other disciplines such as ecological anthropology, ethnobiology, zoology, animal husbandry, and veterinary science also moved into the field, and because they came with different interests and methodologies, gaining a comprehensive picture of research findings was becoming increasingly difficult. Then, in 1995, at the instigation of Professor Yoshihiro Hayashi of the University of Tokyo, the Society for the Study of Human Animal Relations (HARs)was established to bring together not only researchers in this area scattered over a range of sciences and humanities, but also zoo personnel and people involved in animal welfare and other relevant areas. Some of the output of HARs' efforts have recently been compiled into a series titled Hito to Dobutsu no Kankeigaku("The Study of Human Animal Relations") published by Iwanami Shoten.

  In 2004, the Society of Biosophia Studieswas established in recognition of the close connections between human animal relations and the ethnic groups and cultures to which we belong. As the "bio" prefix suggests, the focus of this society encompasses not only animals, but also plants and microorganisms, and even the mythical creatures that populate our imaginations and other themes related to our spirituality.
   In Japan too, animal-assisted education, activities, and therapy have for some time been used in the research of spiritual aspects of health. As a result, these methods are now beginning to win recognition for the major role that they can play in promoting human health, complementing medical treatment, enabling elderly and disabled people to lead normal lives, and ensuring the healthy physical and emotional development of children, and this led to the establishment in 2008 of the Japanese Society for Animal-Assisted Education and Therapy.
   However, many aspects in Japan, including animal assistance methods based on a firm understanding of the traits and behavior of the animals concerned, public hygiene assessment, and code of ethics are still not at a level sufficient to drive the development of animal assisted education, activities, and therapy. This symposium will hopefully become a forum also for pondering the spirituality discussed above from the perspective of human animal relation studies.

Agromedicine for creating a healthy society of coexistence between animals and humans (References 14, 15)

  Who should lead the inquiry in the areas of overlap between agriculture, medicine and environment at local, international, and interdisciplinary levels and consider the form that it should take moving forward?
   The answer is, of course, people with sufficiently broad knowledge, but such people are unfortunately becoming rarer and rarer as the number of people with detailed knowledge in a single narrow area become more and more common. And this trend is becoming even more marked with the advance of computerization. While people capable of interpreting knowledge across many different disciplines are on the decline, those capable of analyzing and utilizing only narrow bands of knowledge are increasingly acting as if they own the place. A great many specialists also appear to be immersing themselves only in their area of specialization to intentionally avoid taking responsibility for their field. Environmental agromedicine is indeed a very challenging field in which to don the mantle of an intellectual, and so how should the challenge be addressed?
   Four years have gone by since we at Kitasato University proposed the integration of agriculture, environment, and medicine as an antidote to the increasing compartmentalization of knowledge. The progress and output of those four years is detailed in the Agromedicine section of Kitasato University's website and in the Kitasato Daigaku Noi Renkei Gakujutsu Sosho("Kitasato University Agromedicine Series") Nos. 1-7 (pub. Yokendo). English summaries of Nos. 1-6 are published in No.7.
   To contribute to inquiry into the form that agromedicine should take, we have to date held the following symposiums:

1st: Agriculture, Environment and Healthcare ( in Japanese)
2nd: Alternative Medicine and Alternative Agriculture ( in Japanese)
3rd: A Look at Avian Influenza from the Perspective of Agriculture, Environment, and Medicine ( in Japanese)
4th: Effect of Cadmium and Arsenic on Agriculture, the Environment, and Health ( in Japanese)
5th: Global Warming: Assessing the Impacts on Agriculture, the Environment, and Human Health, and Techniques for Responding and Adapting ( in Japanese)
6th: Food Safety and Preventive Medicine ( in Japanese)
7th: Agriculture-Environment-Medicine (in English)

 The title of this 7th symposium that will be published in No.8 on Kitasato University Agromedicine series is "Health and the Coexistence of Humans with Animals", but we are of course aware that further investigation of this subject also requires consideration of the following areas: human?animal bonds, the effects of animals on humans and humans on animals, the sublation of human-animal bonds, wildlife protection and management, companion animal studies, animal behavior, biotherapy, biodiversity science, applied animal science, industrial veterinary science, animal assisted activities, zoonoses, the history of humans and animals, wildlife classification preservation management, wildlife medicine, wildlife pests and agriculture, coexistence with wildlife, wildlife conservation science, nature conservation planning, wildlife and environment, endangered species, wildlife rehabilitation, zoonosis prevention, coexistence of humans with companion animals, increase in human and animal transport (zoonoses, food and drug safety, environment and wildlife), etc.
 A symposium titled "Health and the Coexistence of Humans with Animals" must also not neglect the matter of spirituality behind many of the areas listed above. If this symposium concerns itself even if only in a small way with spirituality, I will as its planner be delighted.

  1. Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare press release on draft amendment of the definition of health in WHO's constitution: http://www1.mhlw.go.jp/houdou/1103/h0319-1_6.html 
  2. Japanese translation of Cancer Pain Relief and Palliative Care: Report of a WHO Expert Committee, World Health Organization translated by Fumikazu Takeda, pub. Kanehara (1993)
  3. Sugioka, Y. Igaku Kyoiku no Naka de Spirituality ni Kansuru Kogi ga Hitsuyo ka("Are Classes on Spirituality a Necessary Part of Medical Education?") Asahikawa Medical college Bulletin, General Education, No. 25 pp.23-42 (2009)
  4. Japanese translation of Koenig, H. G., Medicine, Religion, and Health: Where Science and Spirituality Meet, translated by Yoshihiko Sugioka, pub. Igaku Shoin (2009)
  5. Sakuma, T. Nihon Spiritual Care Gakkai Hossoku no Haikei("Behind the Birth of the Japan Society of Spiritual Care") Takata-gun Ishikai Bulletin No. 70 pp.1643-1646 (2009)
  6. Food Safety and Preventive Medicine ( in Japanese)
  7. Japan Society of Spiritual Care website: http://www.spiritual-care.jp/
  8. Akishinomiya, F., Hayashi, Y. (ed) Kachiku no Bunka: Hito to Dobutsu no Kankeigaku("Human Animal Relations: Domestic Animal Culure") Vol. 2 pub. Iwanami Bunko (2009)
  9. Mori, H., Okuno T. (ed) Pets to Shakai: Hito to Dobutsu no Kankeigaku("Human Animal Relations: Pets and Society") Vol. 3 pub. Iwanami Bunko (2009)
  10. Ikeya, K., Hayashi, Y. (ed) Yasei to Kankyo: Hito to Dobutsu no Kankeigaku("Human Animal Relations: Wildlife and Environment") Vol. 4 pub. Iwanami Bunko (2009)
  11. Society for the Study of Human Animal Relations website: http://www.hars.gr.jp/
  12. Society of Biosophia Studies website: http://www.net-sbs.org/
  13. Japanese Society for Animal-Assisted Education and Therapy website: http://www.jsaet.org/
  14. Kitasato University Agromedicine website: http://noui.kitasato-u.ac.jp/
  15. Kitasato University Agromedicine(journal) Vol. 1-7 pub. Yokendo (2006-2009)

The Desirable Relationship between Humans and Animals Yoshihiro Hayashi
Yoshihiro Hayashi
Professor,GraduateSchool of Agricultural and LifeSciences,
University of Tokyo

  In recent years, cases of wildlife showing up in inhabited areas have grown rapidly, with over 4,000 bears, for example, being shot 3 years ago. Elephants too, the largest terrestrials animals in the world, are being killed worldwide despite their rapidly declining numbers. However, Professor Raman Sukumar, winner of the 2006 International Cosmos Prize, says that although about 250 people are killed by elephants each year in India, only 1-2 elephants are killed for taking human lives. Meanwhile in Germany, it has been estimated that living with animals saves over 700 billion yen annually in medical expenses. Such is the complexity of the current relationship between humans and animals that I want to consider the form that this relationship should take in the 21st century. 

  Animals include not only wild animals, but also domestic livestock, poultry, and other animals that live with people. Although poor, farming and fishing villages of Japan showed themselves to be capable of raising children soundly in communities that were rich in nature and culture. No more than 1,000 households now engage in sericulture, but at its peak, as many as 1.2 million households raised silkworms, and the children of such households knew what kind of creatures silkworms were as a matter of course. Though it was only for a limited period after WWII, over a million farmers also raised 1 or 2 goats and sheep on the side, but they too have almost disappeared, and the Japan Sheep Association was subsumed into the Japan Livestock Technology Association. To most children in Japan now, sheep and goats are animals to be found exhibited in zoos rather than encountered in rural communities.

  In addition to livestock and poultry, a great many wild species have disappeared or are on the brink of extinction. A prime example is the medaka(Japanese killifish, Oryzias latipes), which used to have 5,000 local names. The medaka that now graces the pages of Japanese 5th grade textbooks is in fact a variant known as himedaka(and Japanese children as a result believe that medakahave red bellies).

  Japan's new National Biodiversity Strategy states that biodiversity in Japan faces 3 different threats. The first is species decline and extinction caused by overexploitation of habitat by human beings, the Japanese crested ibis (Nipponia nippon) being a prime example. The second is the opposite of the first, namely, decreasing biodiversity caused by a decline in human activity, with the abandonment of farmland and exploited woodlands around rural communities in Japan being a prime example. The third is the impact of introduced species and chemicals, with raccoons and black bass being prime examples of introduced species that are threatening native Japanese species.

  Fifteen years have gone by since the Society for the Study of Human Animal Relations was established in 1995, but I do not think that human animal relations studies can yet be regarded as an established independent discipline. Professor Akio Ebihara of the University of Tokyo's Faculty of Law has said that he makes a point of referring to comparative legal history as an independent discipline rather than as simply an interdisciplinary project, but I am unable to bring the same conviction to bear where human animal relations studies are concerned.

  Of course we members of the Society for the Study of Human Animal Relations have done our utmost, as has the Society of Comparative Legal History, to avoid being stuck with the label of "interdisciplinary", which may sound good, but is, in the final analysis, simply a jumble of different disciplines. We also have the capabilities and broadness of mind to conduct debate in a way that transcends personal research themes and methods. But I still cannot bring myself to regard human animal relations studies as a discipline in the same sense that Hitoshi Aoki uses the words "comparative legal culture theory" in the preface to his book, Animals and Comparative Legal Culture(Yuhikaku).

  When I pondered my reasons, I reached the very obvious conclusion that my diffidence was prompted by the fact that human animal relations studies are still dominated more by emotion than by reason. Definitions of "academic discipline" tend to differ according to the definer, but most scholars would agree that the search for universal principles is a fundamental mission of learning. As Minoru Takeuchi has said, "Reason is something that could only be reason," but in terms of universality, reason is much closer to "rule" than emotion is. Whether you put the emphasis on rule or reason, it is these two that that make debate feasible in the world of learning.

  However, introducing emotion into any academic debate can lead to trouble. When we, the members of the Society for the Study of Human Animal Relations, debate issues that transcend personal research themes and methodologies, we have always put priority on broadmindedness rather than ability. We established the Society as a forum for testing the extent to which we were capable of conducting rational discussion and suppressing any negative emotions sparked by the comments of others, and we have by and large succeeded in that aim.

  This success in fact came as a surprise to us founders of the Society. We witnessed a great many heated disputes regarding whether to permit the keeping of pets in condominiums (and such disputes will no doubt continue), and as far as our experience goes, they were little more than clashes of conflicting emotions rather than rational discussions. In such circumstances, it was difficult to tell how many people there were who possessed sufficient broadmindedness to listen to the views of others and discuss matters calmly, but all such apprehension was soon dispelled by maturity of the debates we have conducted now for 15 years. It was an awareness of the existence of diverse relationships and the sincerity with which members sought to discuss issues based on this awareness that made the whole exercise possible. This is perhaps a reflection of the increasing number of people who put value on individual and regional differences, on diversity, as opposed to the rigid narrow-mindedness particularly of hard-nosed science types of the previous century who regarded the search for universals as the only worthy pursuit of learning. An event that symbolized this shift was the changing of the Japanese name of the Act on Welfare and Management of Animals by replacing the word for "protection" with a word that could perhaps be translated as "loving protection".

  This was just a change of one word, but "loving protection" is not yet an accepted word in the world of biology, and makes the name of the law unacceptable from the hard science perspective mentioned above. There is in fact no easy English translation for the word, and that in itself is enough to make it unpalatable to scientific sticklers who rigorously differentiate between use of the Japanese words for "protection" and "conservation". Hard-nosed 20th century eggheads can hardly disguise their contempt for a word like "loving protection" that expresses a relationship (such as that between people and their pets) in which subjective and objective elements resonate with each other. Such people are unable to comprehend the meaning of the words "animals, which are living beings" that appear repeatedly in Chapter 1 of the Act on Welfare and Management of Animals. The fact that animals are living beings is a given in biology, and so scientists are likely to regard a law that repeats the obvious umpteen times as ridiculous, without attempting to think about the real meaning of those words.

  However, most people try to interpret the 1st chapter of the Act with a more open mind. Article 2 (Fundamental Principle) of the 1973 Act on Welfare and Management of Animals reads "No person shall kill, injure, or inflict cruelty on animals without due cause, and every person shall treat animals properly by taking into account their natural habits and giving consideration to the symbiosis between humans and animals." However, a look at the events of the ensuing 20-odd years leaves plenty of room for doubt as to whether these noble words had been translated into action, and I get the impression that it was such doubts that prompted the attachment of the words "In light of the fact that animals are living beings" to the front of Article 2.

  As ethnologist Tokuji Chiba has said, the Japanese have tended to respect animals but keep them at arm's length. This is one of the forms that the relationship between humans and animals can take, and one that was no doubt shaped by a culture that as a rule determined that people live in tight little communities, with the forested mountains regarded as the domain of wildlife. But now that such segregation of habitat is no longer feasible, there is a need to express the sentiment of the Japanese in a reasoned form, and to create rules based on that reasoning.

  As ethnologist Tokuji Chiba has said, the Japanese have tended to respect animals but keep them at arm's length. This is one of the forms that the relationship between humans and animals can take, and one that was no doubt shaped by a culture that as a rule determined that people live in tight little communities, with the forested mountains regarded as the domain of wildlife. But now that such segregation of habitat is no longer feasible, there is a need to express the sentiment of the Japanese in a reasoned form, and to create rules based on that reasoning.

  This process would assure the kind of relationship between humans and animals that we should strive for in the 21st century.

Animal-assisted Education From Humane Education to Animal-assisted Education Miyoko Matoba
Miyoko Matoba
Vice President,the Society for the Study of Human-Animal Relations
Special Research Student,Graduate School, Nippon Veterinary and Life Science University


  The relationship between children and pets began to be studied from around 1980, with researchers reporting that raising animals has a positive impact on the development of children, and that interacting with pets in particular not only provides aesthetic enrichment, but also has a positive impact on the social, emotional, and cognitive development of children.

  Researchers found, for example, that children who raise pets show a greater capacity for empathy1,2), and that pets can, as objects of love, play a socializing role for children showing delinquent behavior or suffering emotional disorders3). Children who raise pets are also reported to display more highly developed nonverbal communication skills4), and in households in which parents give children responsibility for caring for pets according to their age, performing such duties helps give children confidence in their abilities5). In terms of interdependence, caring for pets brings more benefits to children than caring for other animals, offering as it does opportunities for children to learn about relationships with others, and about the importance of providing social support and of considering the needs of other people and animals4). 

  Where research on the practice of humane education is concerned, children who have participated in a humane education program titled "People and Animals" that uses animals as learning materials in all subjects were reported to show an enhancement of humane attitudes and empathy both immediately after the program and also 1 and 2 years later6), and children's self-esteem scores increased significantly over a 9-month period of keeping pets in their school classroom7).

  In Japan too in recent years, humane education has come to be incorporated into school education. In an initiative conducted by Matoba, children observed a dog scientifically and learned by experience how to interact with dogs8). Takashiba et al. are also using dogs to assist in the teaching of language and math in an animal-assisted education program9).

Humane Education

  In the West, humane education has been incorporated into general education since the 1900s, based on the idea that weaning people from an anthropocentric attitude and cultivating an ethic that advocates reverence and empathy for all life is even more important than teaching the 3Rs of education (reading, writing and arithmetic).
   Humane education programs aim to cultivate affection for animals and respect for all life including one's own, and involve the use in education of animals that are familiar to and liked by most children. Most such programs are offered by humane organizations such as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and Humane Society of the United States.
   Also, a survey by the author found that 25 states in the United States include wording in their education codes that require teachers to cultivate among their pupils attitudes of kindness toward domestic pets and the humane treatment of living creatures. Such codes serve as a foundation that almost certainly contributes to the development of animal-assisted therapy, activities and education in the West.


  §44806. Duty concerning instruction of pupils concerning morals, manners, and citizenship Each teacher shall endeavor to impress upon the minds of the pupils the principles of morality, truth, justice, patriotism, and a true comprehension of the rights, duties, and dignity of American citizenship, and the meaning of equality and human dignity, including the promotion of harmonious relations, kindness toward domestic pets and the humane treatment of living creatures, to teach them to avoid idleness, profanity, and falsehood, and to instruct then in manners and morals and the principles of a free government. (from California's education code of 2000)

Use of animals in education in Japan

  Based on traditional animistic beliefs that everything is imbued with life, and a Buddhist abomination for the taking of life, the Japanese people have long regarded coexistence with animals as an aspect of their spiritual belief system. In addition to playground equipment, Japan's elementary schools from over a century ago included areas given over to ponds, trees, flower beds, and enclosures for keeping goats, rabbits, ducks, chickens, carp, goldfish and other animals. Such facilities were intended to serve not only as elements of the school environment, but also as resources for familiarizing schoolchildren with nature and for use in nature education.

  Such school gardens have declined in number, but the 1989 revision of the Japanese government's educational guidelines introduced socio-environmental studies into the curriculum, and elementary schools began to raise animals with the aim of fostering interest in nature through familiar animals and plants, and nurturing consideration for nature in everyday life and play. As a new initiative, some schools have also launched animal-assisted activities in which animals are brought in to schools to enable pupils to interact with them and learn how to take proper care of them.

Defining animal-assisted education

  Animal-assisted therapy, which is an even more specialized application of interaction with animals, is the use of animals by a qualified specialist as part of rehabilitation, pain control, psychotherapy and other medical treatment regimens, and involves the drawing up of a treatment plan, introduction of animals during the plan's implementation, recording of the process and evaluation of results. Animal-assisted education could be seen as the same principle applied to education rather than therapy, with children rather than patients as the target. In other words, qualified educators set educational or learning targets, prepare lesson plans, introduce animals into the learning process, and evaluate the results.

  Animal-assisted education accordingly differs in both its nature and purpose from other already established animal-related activities of Japan's educational system (e.g. caring for school animals; day trips to zoos, farms and similar; humane education talks by outside experts; classes on interacting with dogs).

Animal-assisted education initiatives

  If, for example, the animal being used is a dog, a teacher would first identify existing issues in the learning process or everyday attitudes, and then work with the qualified specialist to draft a program (with learning targets, lesson plans, and assessment) that makes effective use of aspects of dog behavior in addressing those issues. Then the locations and times that the dog will be used are fixed, and the specific dog and handler chosen. The dog may be used in any number of different classes. For example, for a music class, the timing with which the dog barks could be controlled to help in the study of a song or rhythm. For math, the position of the dog could represent the time of day on a clock to help children read time on a clock. And in a reading lesson, the dog could serve as a listener for practice in reading out loud. If the children pay attention and study diligently, they could be rewarded with a play session with the dog as a way of boosting their motivation to learn.

  When implementing animal-assisted education, time must be set aside at the start to create rules for conduct of subsequent classes with the dog, but these rules are not dictated to the children up front by saying "Dogs don't like this or that, so don't do this or that." The children in a class are told to all start running around at once, or suddenly become totally quiet, or start all shouting at once, and to observe the dog's reaction. By doing so, the children will be able to observe with their own eyes how the dog behaves, and decide for themselves how they should behave during classes with the dog present. Rules are accordingly derived from the children's own observations, with the children themselves deciding that they shouldn't run, because if they do, the dog will want to give chase, and that they should keep quiet because the dog is frightened by sudden loud sounds, and so forth. Children are far more ready to go along with rules that they decide themselves. It has been reported that children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), an increasingly common disorder, came to observe various rules in class in the presence of a dog9).

  The presence of a dog creates an environment that differs from that of the everyday classroom environment, and this in itself may well boost the attention and concentration of children and galvanize the class as a whole. But dogs also possess special talents for interaction and entertainment that can bring countless knock-on benefits to the classroom and children, including the learning of nonverbal communication and nurturing of consideration for others.

Animal-assisted education: current status and issues

  In the present age, particularly children living in cities have few opportunities to play in natural surroundings, collect insects, keep pets, or grow plants, and the same can be said for their teachers too. The results of a National Institute for Educational Policy Research (NIER)-funded research project on nurturing respect for life in elementary and secondary education through biological experimentation and observation and caring for animals showed that over 40% of schools do not include the collection of insects in their curricula, and that schools teaching children how to prepare entomological specimens were almost non-existent. Many teachers have no experience whatsoever of keeping insects or small animals until they actually become teachers.

  Young teachers who have tried animal-assisted education all say, "I wish that I'd had such classes when I was in elementary school." The benefits are evident to all who experience such education, but few schools seek out such opportunities. Teachers who have never raised a dog themselves need to develop an appreciation of the kind of animals dogs are before using one in their own classes, and this represents a major hurdle. Most teachers are already too busy even to devote time to gathering information on the introduction of new educational methods.

  Given this situation, I would like to see animal-assisted therapy, activities, and education incorporated into the curricula of general studies, faculties of education, and teacher training courses of Japanese universities in the same way that credit courses in this field are already offered in Western universities and affiliated organizations. Learning about animal-assisted therapy, activities, and education in college and participating in such activities as volunteers would provide students with valuable character building experience, and also contribute to society. And more than anything else, I think that the compassion for animals and volunteer spirit nurtured through animal-assisted education would serve as a major foundation for the development of this field.

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  6. Ascione, F. R: Children's Attitudes about the Humane Treatment of Animals and Empathy: One-Year Follow Up of a School-Based Intervention AnthrozoOs1996 vol.IX, no.4
  7. Bergesen, F. J.: The Effects of Pet Facilitated Therapy on the Self-Esteem and Socialization Of Primary School ChildrenPaper presented at the 5th International Conference on the Relationship between Human and Animals, Monaco 1989.
  8. Matoba, M., Coultis, D. Fostering Cooperation Between the United States and Japan: Japanese Elementary School Program Teachers Reverence for All Life. The Latham Letter, 4: pp.2-15, 2004.
  9. Takashiba, M., Matoba, M., Nishimura, M., Nakayama, Y. Dobutsu Kaizai Kyoiku: Dobutsu Kaizai wo Tooshita Nozomashii Gakkyu Zukuri to Kyoka Gakushu Made("Animal-Assisted Education: Using Animals to Shape Class Behavior and Assist in Learning") Proceedings of The World Education Fellowship Japan Section International Education Forum 2007 pp.16-17

The Role of Animals in Children's Learning Miki Kakinuma
Miki Kakinuma
Professor,NipponVeterinary and Life ScienceUniversity


  In a public opinion survey on animal welfare, 40% of respondents chose "Emotional enrichment for growing children" as a good reason for keeping pets, and 20% of those actually keeping pets chose "My children's emotional education" as their reason (Public Relations Office, Government of Japan). In an opinion survey on the keeping of animals in nursery schools, many teachers reported that the presence of animals enhanced play and children's other activities, and broadened their interpersonal relationships (Takahashi et al.). What exactly is the basis for the idea that keeping animals is good for children?

  Most of the knowledge regarding the importance of animals is probably based on one's own experiences and observations of children. An analysis of the speech of nursery school infants in relation to rabbits showed that the infants gain in desirable traits such as empathy and care-giving (Hamano and Sekine). Rabbits have also been shown to serve as emotional support (Fujisaki, Kakinuma and Izumo).

  Despite such reports on the benefits of animals, keeping animals in nursery schools is not necessarily easy. Ongoing survey on the animals kept by over 50 public nursery schools since 1993 revealed that the number of facilities keeping birds and rabbits has declined dramatically (Sakurai and Kakinuma, unpublished data) (Figure 1). Despite reports of the benefits of contact with animals to child development and the positive effects of rabbits on nurturing empathy and emotions, why is the keeping of rabbits declining?

  This presentation will look at the connection between animals and child development, and consider the form that animal-child relations should take moving forward.


Figure1:Percentage of all public nursery schools in Edogawa-ku,Tokyo that keep animals
First encounters with animals

  It has been reported that the way children relate to animals and the value they place on them differs with age. I will take a simple look here at the relationship between animals and preschool infants.
   According to Amano and Kondo (NTT Communication Science Laboratories), the first word most frequently uttered by infants is manma("food"), followed by oppai("milk"), inai inai baa("peekaboo"), mama("mommy"), hai("yes"), and then wan wan("doggie") in 6th place, papa("dad") in 8th, and nyan nyan("pussy cat") in 14th. The dogs and cats are frequently neighborhood cats and dogs, or toys or characters in picture books rather than pets belonging to the household of the children concerned, but they nevertheless rank highly alongside food-related words. This accords with E.O. Wilson's biophilia hypothesis, and suggests that animals occupy an important position in the world view of children, so much so that they selectively pick up information on animals from their surrounding environment. Even children who have never come into contact with a real dog or cat respond to wan wanand nyan nyan.

Relationship with animals in infancy

  A nursery school survey has shown that infants aged 3-4 have a particularly keen interest in insects, but when they reach the age of 5, their interest in rabbits and turtles grows. Infants of 3-4 years say hello to insects, while 5 year-olds don't, but children of 4-5 do talk about the features of different insects. In short, the way children relate to insects changes with age (Takahashi et al.). Hamano and Sekine have reported that in nursery schools that keep rabbits, 3-4 year-olds expressed largely positive feelings about rabbits, but some 5 year-olds who were responsible for caring for the rabbits also harbored negative feelings. It would thus appear that children's focus of interest broadens with age and experience, and that they become able to view animals from multiple perspectives.


  Developmental psychologist Gail Melson writes that for children, familiar animals include not only pets, but also picture book characters, teddy bears and other stuffed animals, toys, imaginary friends, and even alter egos. Melson showed that animals are an intimate part of the everyday lives of children in many different ways, figuring largely in their minds and populating, for example, their dreams and maps of the neighborhood that they draw.

  If, as shown by Melson's findings and data on the first words of babies, animals constitute a vital part of the lives of children, then nursery schools would be ideal places for enabling children to interact with animals, but issues such as allergies and caring for animals over weekends and holidays appear to be impeding the keeping of mammals and birds, and keeping insects as a substitute appears to be growing in popularity.

  The ideal environment for children would of course be one in which they could interact with fish, mammals, and other animals as well as insects. Ideally children should be allowed to interact with healthy animals in ways that accord with their stage of development, under guidance from experienced nursery school staff or animal specialists. I would like to see nursery schools offering a diversity of opportunities for interaction with animals, including picture book and imaginary creatures, and local wildlife.

  1. Amano, S., Kondo, T. Judanteki Rokuon ni Motozuku NTT Nyuyoji Onsei Database no Kouchiku("Building a Database of NTT Infant Speech Based on Perpendicular Recording") Japanese Psychological Association 72nd Annual Meeting Abstract, 2008
  2. Poresky, R.H. The Young Children's Empathy Measure: Reliability, Validity and Effects of Companion Animal BondingPsychological Reports. 66 1990, pp.931-936
  3. Robin. M.. & ten Bensel, R. W., Quingly, J. S & Anderson, R. K: Pets and the Socialization of Childrenin Pets and The Family ed. M. B. Sussman, Haworth Press, New York 1983, pp.63-78
  4. Guttmann, G. Predovic, M. Zemanek, M. The Influence of Pet Ownership on Non-Verbal Communication and Social Competence in Children. Proceedings of the International Symposium on the Human-Pet Relationship. IEMT, Vienna 1985, pp.58-63
  5. Haggerty Davis, J., Gerace, L., & Summers, J: Pet-Care Management in Child-Rearing Families AnthrozoOs1989;2(3) pp.189-193.
  6. Ascione, F. R: Children's Attitudes about the Humane Treatment of Animals and Empathy: One-Year Follow Up of a School-Based Intervention AnthrozoOs1996 vol.IX, no.4
  7. Bergesen, F. J.: The Effects of Pet Facilitated Therapy on the Self-Esteem and Socialization Of Primary School ChildrenPaper presented at the 5th International Conference on the Relationship between Human and Animals, Monaco 1989.
  8. Matoba, M., Coultis, D. Fostering Cooperation Between the United States and Japan: Japanese Elementary School Program Teachers Reverence for All Life. The Latham Letter, 4: pp.2-15, 2004.

The Future of Animal Welfare, and Animal-Assisted Education and Therapy Seiichi Higuchi
Seiichi Higuchi
Professor, Kitasato University


  The welfare of an animal is defined by its physical and mental condition, and the animal concerned should ideally be healthy and at ease, but up to now, little interest has been shown in research on the sensibilities of animals and how they feel in various situations.

  We need a comprehensive syllabus that includes research aimed at understanding appropriate physical and mental conditions of animals, the study of ethical welfare to exercise appropriate respect for animals, programs for transforming aberrant behavior into appropriate behavior using specialized training, and so forth.

  The concept of animal-assisted intervention (AAI) put forward by Debbie Coultis (CEO of People, Animals, Nature, Inc.) encompasses animal-assisted therapy, animal-assisted education, and animal-assisted activities.

  Animal-assisted therapy and animal-assisted education involve the participation of animals in specific aspects of human therapy and education. They are therapeutic or educational processes that target humans and involve the setting of therapeutic or educational goals, the formulation and execution of plans to achieve those goals, and assessment of results. As such, responsibility for these processes needs to be shouldered by medical or educational specialists who are qualified to implement them.

  Animal-assisted activities are, on the other hand, basically activities in which humans and animals interact, with animal visitation programs being a typical example. People involved in such activities do not need to have specialized medical knowledge, and volunteers play an important role in most such activities.

  This presentation is concerned with practitioners of animal-assisted therapy, animal-assisted activities and animal-assisted education, and other people who assist them, and the programs required to educate qualified practitioners.

1. Practitioners of animal-assisted therapy, activities and education, and their assistants

1) Practitioners of animal-assisted therapy and their assistants

  In animal-assisted therapy, a healthcare specialist (doctor, nurse, social worker, occupational therapist, physiotherapist, clinical psychologist, nursing care support specialist, etc.) decides with the cooperation of volunteers where an animal will be used in a patient's treatment regimen, and must set a clearly defined treatment goal with a clearly defined point of achievement. Animal-assisted therapy also requires detailed record keeping and assessment of results.

  In addition to doctors or other healthcare specialists, animal owners or handlers are also vital to the practice of animal-assisted therapy. Other necessary personnel include breeders to breed animals suited to the needs of the patients concerned, veterinarians as managers of animal health, trainers to train the animals in such a way that they enable the achievement of treatment goals, facilitators who coordinate between the healthcare specialists and animal-related personnel and who assist in program introduction and are instrumental in driving progress while monitoring participants and circumstances, and a great many volunteers.

2) Practitioners of animal-assisted activities and their assistants

  Animal-assisted activities are basically activities in which humans and animals interact, and in most cases, volunteers play a major role. The people that they visit with animals are usually disabled or elderly people, or children, and so they must behave with courtesy and do their utmost to avoid inconsiderate behavior. Certain rules should be set and observed by participating personnel and recipient personnel. Animal assisted visitation activities require the support of a great many volunteers, including personnel who care for participating animals on a day-to-day basis (daily care, health management, and training) and the handlers who actually take the animals on visits to recipients.

  The volunteers who participate in animal-assisted activities do so for various reasons, such as a fondness for animals or a desire to serve society in some way. Because most practitioners of animal-assisted activities are volunteers, they may not be able to participate on a long-term basis, but building up a record of achievement and expanding activities so as to make animal intervention increasingly useful to society would be of immense value in cultivating awareness of the effectiveness of animal-assisted activities and better understanding of animals, and for preparing the ground for the future introduction of animal-assisted education and therapy programs.

  The minimum personnel required to implement animal-assisted activities are one responsible person each on the animal and recipient facility sides, plus a leader who represents volunteers and serves as the facilitator. As the person who is instrumental in overseeing program progress, the facilitator is responsible for preparing the activity program, recruiting and selecting volunteers, organizing volunteer orientation and training, informing participants and facility personnel of arrangements, making other necessary preparations, and above all us, clearly communicating the principles and goals of the activities to participants and ensuring that they understand.

3) Practitioners of animal-assisted education and their assistants

  The goals of animal-assisted education are to utilize animals in education to promote emotional development while enhancing interactions with others (emotional education), nurture compassion for animals and gain appreciation of the importance of life (bioethical education), and foster greater understanding of wildlife and nature, and through this, foster respect and a sense of responsibility for animals (environmental education).

  The International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organizations (IAHAIO), an umbrella organization for organizations involved in human-animal relations in countries around the world, has drawn up basic guidelines for people involved in animal-assisted education. Regarding the roles and responsibilities of school principals, teachers and other school personnel involved in animal-assisted education, the guidelines advocate that all such personnel must ensure that animals are kept in a suitable environment and are properly cared for, and must exercise judgment as to the quality of the environment in which animals are kept and strive to constantly improve that environment. They must also ensure that the animals used in the program are safe for humans (known to be of suitable temperament and properly trained). This in turn of course requires people versed in the traits and behavior of the animals used, and able to select and manage suitable animals. The guidelines also stipulate that the animals must be in good health (with emphasis on the need for animals to receive health checks by veterinarians), and that the cooperation of veterinarians is required to monitor the care of animals used and prevent zoonoses.

  Animal-assisted education could in time also be incorporated into the home to leverage the benefits that the presence of animals can bring to the personal growth of human children, and into continuing education and other forms of education for ordinary adults and elderly people. However, I think that it would be advisable from the viewpoint of setting clear qualification criteria to limit the definition of animal-assisted education for the time being to school education for children.

  Animal-assisted education needs to be distinguished from animal-assisted activities. For the former, an education specialist (teacher) enlists the help of a facilitator and volunteers, etc. to decide where animals can be used in education to achieve clearly defined educational goals, and implementation of animal-assisted education requires the keeping of records and assessment of results. In addition to education specialists (teachers), animal-assisted education also requires the same kind of animal-related personnel as animal-assisted therapy, namely animal owners and handlers, breeders, veterinarians, trainers, facilitators, and a great many volunteers.

2. Specialist qualifications

1) Animal-assisted therapy specialists

  One example of animal-assisted therapy specialists are Germany's hippotherapists. Hippotherapy requires people with advanced skills of various kinds, and becoming an instructor requires one of the following specializations: healthcare (physiotherapists, occupational therapists, psychiatrists, etc.), psychology / education (psychologist, teacher, etc.), sports (sports instructors, gymnastics teachers, etc.). In addition to these specializations, prospective hippo-therapists are required to hold the German Equestrian Association's Level 1 riding qualification.

  Animal-assisted therapy is medical therapy in the broad sense of contributing to the maintenance, restoration and promotion of human health, and is a treatment activity assumed to have positive effects.

  Medical treatment in the official sense of the term can be provided only by qualified doctors, but in actuality all sorts of activities are referred to as medical treatment or medical activities and such like, and related techniques or skills are referred to as treatment techniques or medical skills and so forth. Medical activities include disease prevention and rehabilitation activities as well as actual treatment of a patient's disease or disorder. Nursing activities (nursing processes) by nurses and others, medication counseling by pharmacists, dietary guidance to patients by dietitians under the instructions of doctors or dentists and so forth should also naturally be regarded as medical activities.

  As such, I would like to propose the need for animal-assisted therapy specialists as a new category of specialists involved in medical activities, and I recommend the establishment of a national qualification system for specialists involved in animal-assisted therapy. One such qualification could be "animal-assisted therapy medical specialist" for doctors who have successfully completed an animal-assisted therapy specialist training program. Another could be for people who have completed an animal-assisted therapy program and passed a national examination for the qualification of "animal-assisted therapist." Animal-assisted therapists would conduct medical rehabilitation using animal-assisted therapy under the instructions of an animal-assisted therapy medical specialist.

2) Animal-assisted education specialists

  The goal of animal-assisted education is to use animals to support the learning of children in a way that contributes positively to their development. I recommend the establishment of a national qualification system for specialists involved in animal-assisted education. The qualification of "animal-assisted education specialist teacher" would be conferred on teachers who successfully complete an animal-assisted education specialist teacher training program, and the qualification of "animal-assisted education specialist teacher" would be conferred on persons who complete an animal-assisted educator training program and pass a national examination. Animal-assisted educators would serve as assistants to animal-assisted education specialist teachers when the latter implement animal-assisted education.

3) Animal-assisted activities

  As mentioned above, animal-assisted activities are basically activities in which humans and animals interact superficially, and do not involve the creation of special programs. As such, animal-assisted activities should be distinguished from animal-assisted education and animal-assisted therapy, and in this sense, animal-assisted activity specialists and a qualification system are probably not needed. Those carrying out such activities would not assume any particular obligations, and volunteers would be allowed to conduct activities on their own initiative. However, a facilitator is indispensable for selecting volunteers, clarifying activity mission and goals, coordinating between animal-related and target facility personnel, drawing up activity schedules, making other preparations, attending meetings and so forth. The facilitator plays a very important role as the nucleus of volunteer activities, and should be someone with rich knowledge and experience. In a sense, activities are to a large part dictated by the personality and appeal of the facilitator. Even if continuing activities over the long term is difficult, those involved in animal-assisted activities should be made aware of the fact that conducting such activities in a wide variety of environments can play a vital role in spreading recognition of the usefulness of animal intervention in society.

4)Future plans

  The need exists to demonstrate the usefulness and raise public awareness of animal intervention in the form of animal-assisted therapy, activities, and education. Programs for training facilitators, breeders, trainers and other personnel in addition to animal-assisted therapy and education specialists also urgently need to be developed. Candidates could include the following personnel: Animal-assisted education and therapy specialists; teachers, doctors, and occupational therapists who have studied animal-assisted education or therapy to the same qualification level; psychology specialists who have studied psychology and are able to participate in the treatment of emotional and other conditions; veterinarians who have studied animal behavior and also human physical functions; and social welfare and nursing care workers and others with specialized social welfare-related knowledge.
 I see a need for specialists in education, medicine, nursing, veterinary science, animal behavior, sociology, and other fields of learning to pool their respective specializations and work together closely to develop opportunities for the practice of animal-assisted education and therapy and establish both fields as recognized occupations.

  1. Higuchi, S. et al. (Akahori, F, ed.) Opinion on Animal-Assisted Education, Activities and Therapy. Committee for Animal-Assisted Therapy and Education, Association of Private Veterinary Colleges, 2007 (in Japanese)
  2. Higuchi, S. Animal Welfare and Animal-Assisted Education and Therapy. The 2nd Conference of the Japanese Society for Animal-Assisted Education and Therapy (Abstracts, P.1 ,University of Tokyo, Tokyo) 2009 (in Japanese)
  3. Higuchi, S. Curriculum Development for New Challenge in Veterinary Medicine Reflecting Social Issues on Human Animal Relation, Ethics, Environments. The International Symposium of the Korean Society of Veterinary Science (Abstracts, 49(3):211-213. Jeju, Korea) 2009

The Benefits of Hippotherapy Hirokazu Tsubone
Hirokazu Tsubone
Professor,Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences,Faculty of Agriculture,
University of Tokyo

What is hippotherapy?

  Hippotherapy is a welfare activity that uses horses to promote the physical and mental health of both healthy people and patients, and aid rehabilitation. It is an auxiliary medical or paramedical field aimed at achieving clearly positive medical effects. It is also referred to as "equine-assisted therapy" or "therapeutic riding", but "hippotherapy" would appear to be the most commonly used term in recent research findings on the subject announced in academic journals covering such fields as occupational therapy and physiotherapy. Horse riding and motor tasks performed while riding simultaneously provide a range of exercise and sensory stimulation, making hippotherapy one of the closest fields of medicine to occupational therapy or physiotherapy. It also shares certain aspects with sports science.

The history of hippotherapy (outline)

  Hippocrates (460-377 BC) in ancient Greece wrote a chapter on natural exercise in which he states that the rhythm of horse riding can help speed the physical rehabilitation of wounded soldiers. Many centuries later, Italian Renaissance philologist Hieronymus Mercurialis wrote about riding in The Art of Gymnastics published in 1569, and expounded on the benefits of riding for the restoration and maintenance of health. Later still, Until the 1970s, no conventional scientific research papers on the subject appear to have been published, but the value of hippotherapy nevertheless came to be recognized worldwide during this period thanks to the interest shown by medical professionals and their efforts to popularize it, and the field developed rapidly particularly after WWII. It was the famous Lis Hartel of Denmark who gave hippotherapy its biggest breakthrough. After her legs were paralyzed when she was struck with polio in 1940 as a child, Hartel spent most of her waking hours with her horse, and her passion for riding eventually led to her winning silver medals for dressage at both the Helsinki (1952) and Melbourne (1956) Olympic Games. Hartel's remarkable achievements in a sport in which men and women compete as equals, and in an era in which the Paralympics had yet to start, drew worldwide acclaim. Thanks to Hartel's fame and her ardent promotion of the field, interest in riding for the disabled grew explosively. In 1969, the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) was founded in the UK with Princess Anne as its patron, and in the same year, the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA) was founded. Both associations have become big organizations, each with about about 800 member groups and facilities under them. The German Association for Therapeutic Riding was founded in 1970 and their activities have been focused on "therapeutic riding". RDA and NARHA both conduct activities aimed at enhancing the rehabilitation of physical abilities of disabled persons, but the promotion of riding and carriage driving as sport and recreation also accounts for a large part of their activities.

  In Japan, Harmony Center opened a pony club in 1973 and launched emotional education-related activities for children, and in 1990 Pony School Katsushika started to offer riding classes for the disabled. From about 1989, Professor Shinichi Takisaka and other researchers at the National Institute of Special Needs Education began to study therapeutic riding. In 1991, Masanao Murai, a medical doctor, enlisted RDA's cooperation to launch therapeutic riding activities at the Urakawa Warashibe Home, a facility belonging to Warashibe-Kai, a social welfare organization involved in activities for people with severe disabilities. Dr. Murai also established a school for training therapeutic riding instructors in 1998 in Hidaka, Hokkaido. Between 1995 and 1999, a number of therapeutic riding organizations were established, including the Japan Riding Association for the Disabled (JRAD) in 1995, Society for Nippon Riding Therapy(NRT) in 1996, Riding for the Disabled Association Yokohama (RDA Yokohama) in 1996, Riding for the Disabled Association Japan (RDA Japan) in 1998, and All Nippon Therapeutic Riding Association (ANTRA) in 1999, and these organizations are now conducting ambitious therapeutic riding programs throughout Japan. If activities for interaction with horses are included (but excluding festivals), there must be over 150 organizations now active throughout Japan. However, only a few are working with qualified experts such as physiotherapists, occupational therapists, doctors, riding for the disabled instructors and speech therapists to conduct medical activities. The biggest reason is that Japan still lacks a nationwide qualification system. In Germany, however, hippotherapy conducted by certified instructors and facilities is officially recognized as part of a treatment regimen, and is an important technique in medical treatment for disabled persons.

Hippotherapy practice

 The practice of hippotherapy requires: (1) trustworthy horses; (2) qualified instructors, horse leaders capable of controlling the movements of horses according to the program content or client circumstances, side-walkers (usually 2 volunteers who have received instruction), and clients (riders); (3) an appropriate environment (though it depends on the number of horses and human participants, an area of at least 20 m x 20 m, preferably able to be divided into circles). Horses are usually led in a walk or a trot. In some cases, though it is not riding per se, carriage driving is also available. While riding, conversation is made with the rider to stimulate listening and speech, and the rider may be made to carry out physical exercises and other movements while mounted (e.g. extending or raising arms, gripping tools, stroking the horse) so as to achieve all-round benefits. Apart from riding, activities can also include cleaning and preparing harnesses, approaching and greeting with horses, using a balance ball before riding, brushing horses, and use of toys and other support equipment.

Physical benefits of hippotherapy

 Hippotherapy is used in the treatment of various conditions, including cerebral palsy, spinal cord disorder, stroke, autism, Asperger's disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and myotonia. Hippotherapy is also known to bring considerable emotional benefits, but most medical research papers on the subject concern themselves with the physical effects of therapy. This is probably because physical effects are easier to measure, and thus provide results that are easier to publish in academic journals, rather than indicating that the emotional benefits of hippotherapy are any less significant than the physical benefits. Physical indicators that can be measured include range of motion (ROM), grip strength, gross motor function (GMF: walking, standing, changing posture, jumping, etc.), muscle activity (electromyogram) coordination, left-right symmetry, muscle contraction and relaxation, arm and leg movements observed using motion capture systems, head and trunk stability, and locomotion (walking speed, path, acceleration, etc.). Recently researchers are experimenting with the use of functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to enable easy real-time measurement of changes in the cerebral blood flow of people with cerebral palsy or autism. Where the measurement of psychological changes is concerned, common tests include visual analog scale (VAS) and Kraepelin tests. Hippotherapy is also empirically known to improve speech abilities. Keino et al. have measured the effects of hippotherapy using an original system of visual observation-based scores known as human-equine-interaction on physical activity (HEIP) and human-equine-interaction on mental activity (HEIM) scores.

We occasionally hear views to the effect that hippotherapy provides only limited physical benefits, but recently an increasing number of research findings that are more than able to withstand scientific scrutiny have appeared, and most of them attest to the positive effects of hippotherapy. This may, of course, be due to the fact that research reporting lack of positive effects may be more difficult to publish, but studies in which rigorous conditions have been applied and appropriate indices measured have shown that hippotherapy has definite benefits.

Benefits reported by these studies include improved ROM, head stability, arm motor functions, left-right trunk symmetry, locomotion, and more efficient oxygen consumption in cerebral palsy patients. Moreover, these physical benefits were observed not only directly after riding, but appeared to last for at least 12 weeks after cessation of riding. Riding causes 3-dimensional movements that simultaneously stimulate visual, proprioceptive, vestibular, tactile, and other senses, and is thought to be effective in promoting sensory integration, an important concept in the field of occupational therapy.

In this presentation, I will report on both Japanese and overseas research on the physical effects of hippotherapy. (Part of this lecture was presented at the Japanese College of Veterinary Internal Medicine/ Japanese Society of Veterinary Clinical Pathology 2010 convention.)

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  3. Lechner HE, Kakebeeke TH, Hegemann D, Baumberger M. (2007): The effect of hippotherapy on spasticity and on mental well-being of persons with spinal cord injury. Archphys Med Rehabil.88(10):1241-1248.
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  5. McGibbon NH, Andrade CK, Widener G, Cintas HL. (1998): Effect of an equine- movement therapy program on gait, energy expenditure, and motor function in children with spastic cerebral palsy: a pilot study. Dev Med Child Neurol.40(11):754-762.
  6. McGibbon NH, Benda W, Duncan BR, Silkwood-Sherer D.(2009): Immediate and long-term effects of hippotherapy on symmetry of adductor muscle activity and functional ability in children with spastic cerebral palsy. Archphys Med Rehabil.90(6):966-974.
  7. Nareklishvili TM. (2008): Dynamics of hip joint biomechanics in patients with coxarthrosis at the time of hippotherapy. Georgian Med News.(155):26-31. (Abstract)
  8. Rieger C. (1978): Scientific fundamentals of hippo- and riding therapy -a compilation of study results. Rehabilitation (Stuttg).17(1):15-19. (Abstract)
  9. Shurtleff TL, Standeven JW, Engsberg JR. (2009): Changes in dynamic trunk/head stability and functional reach after hippotherapy. Archphys Med Rehabil.90(7):1185-1195.
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  14. Keino H, Funahashi A, Keino H, Miwa C, Hosokawa M, Hayashi Y, Kawakita K.(2009): Psycho-educational Horseback Riding to Facilitate Communication Ability of Children with Pervasive Developmental Disorders. J. Equine Sci.20(4):79-88.

Scientific Effects of Hippotherapy: A Physician's Perspective Hirohiko Kuratsune
Hirohiko Kuratsune
Professor,Faculty ofHealth Sciences forWelfare, Knsai University of Welfare Sciences
Professor, Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Faculty of Agriculture,
University of Tokyo
Visiting Professor, Clinical Center for Fatigue Sciences, Osaka City University Medical School

  Treating chronic fatigue requires both emotional healing as well as the rehabilitation of physical functions. In addition to conventional medical and neuropsychological treatment, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, sports therapy and music therapy, hospitals have recently begun to experiment with nature therapy (contact with nature), horticultural therapy and other treatments that have proven to be effective. Animal assisted therapy, which leverages the comfort that animals can provide, is one more treatment that has come to be used widely to help treat not only psychological and neural disorders, but also physical disorders.

  Animal assisted therapy is a general term for any treatment of humans involving the use of animals. The most commonly used animals are dogs, cats and other small cuddly animals. Contact with such animals has been found to relieve irritation, anxiety and fear of other people, and to stimulate people who have lost all interest in life to seek out further interaction with these animals and to rediscover their appetite for life. However there are a few studies that demonstrate the scientific effects of animal assisted therapy on the health.

  On learning of the successful use of interaction with horses by the Osaka Prefectural Board of Education and Hattori Ryokuchi Riding Center to help in the social rehabilitation of children who were unwilling or unable to attend school and had shut themselves off from society, the study group supported by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare investigated the scientific effects of hippotherapy on 9 school refusal children (4 male, and 5 female high school students) and 5 recluse adults (3 male, 2 female), making for a total of 14 persons aged between 15 and 41 (20.5±7.6 years old).

  From this study, we found that interaction with horses relieved depression, irritation, anxiety, tension and other subjective symptoms, and a clinical psychologist revealed that compared with their state before receiving hippotherapy, the facial expressions of subjects were brighter, conversation with household members increased, and subjects became more active in their daily lives. Assessment using the self-esteem scale proposed in 1992 by Alice W. Pope also showed general, familial and social self-esteem to be clearly lower than for normal subjects before hippotherapy, but general and familial self-esteem in particular rising after participation in hippotherapy.

  Judging from the daily activity and sleep quality in 5 school refusal students by using actigraph, their daytime activity tended to be higher and middle-of-the-night insomnia tended to be lower in the 3 days after the program as compared to the 3 days prior to the hippotherapy program. Looking at the time spent sleeping, subjects slept 9 hours per day on average, but after hippotherapy, they slept less and were active for a longer time. Although this study was too small to obtain statistically significant results, further a large study is necessary to confirm our results.

  The general perception of riding is that only the horse is working, and that the rider simply sits astride it and maintains balance. However, when we studied the changes of heart rates and oxygen consumptions by using a Holter monitor and portable oxygen consumption meter in 11 male and female subjects (age: 33.0±10.7 years, height: 163.6±8.5 cm, weight: 57.4±9.7kg) at rest and at astride a horse that is walking, trotting or cantering, we found that heart rate was 83.0±8.3 beats/min and oxygen consumption 262±79 mL/min at rest, but rose significantly to 103.1±11.7 beats/min and 603±132 mL/min respectively when the horse was walking. Figures for when subjects themselves walked were 98.3±13.4 beats/min for heart rate and 537±84 mL/min for oxygen consumption, showing that the aerobic exercise when mounted on even just a walking horse was much the same as when the subject is walking. This suggests that even just sitting astride a horse that is being led by an instructor, an activity that requires no special skills, is most definitely aerobic exercise. We also found little difference between gender and age groups.

  Heart rate rose to 145.2±17.7 beats/min and oxygen consumption to 1,279±305 mL/min when mounted on a trotting horse, and 163.1±12.8 beats/min and 1,516±385 mL/min respectively when on a cantering horse. These are significant increases that match maximal exercise loads in cycle ergometer tests, showing that riding atop trotting or cantering horses is heavy exercise without oxygen of the same level as other sports.

  Aerobic exercise is known to relieve stress and invigorate people, and so we next investigated whether the benefits mentioned above were derived simply from aerobic exercise, or specifically from riding and other interaction with horses. We subjected 10 Kansai University of Welfare Sciences students to 2 rounds of Kraepelin tests (30 min) and the copying of text reflected in a mirror (30 min), thus invoking a state of fatigue caused by 2 hours of mental exercise, after which we compared the effect on recovery from fatigue of 20 minutes of riding on the one hand, and 20 minutes of aerobic exercise (walking) on the other. Our results showed that aerobic exercise alone helped to relieve feelings of fatigue and boost vigor, tension and volition, but that riding also significantly improved scores for depression, irritation, anxiety and physical condition. As such, it appears that in addition to the benefits of aerobic exercise, riding is also effective in relieving a number of negative symptoms associated with fatigue specifically as a result of interaction with horses.

  In this presentation, I would like to introduce a number of benefits of hippotherapy that have been demonstrated by scientific investigation.


 I would like to express my deep appreciation to Horse Friends Jimukyoku and Hattori Ryokuchi Riding Center for their cooperation with the hippotherapy research covered in this study, to Koyodai High School teacher Ryuji Nishi for enabling the participation of the school refusal children, and Keisuke Tani of the Kyoto Supporting Center of Education for enabling the participation of the recluse adults.

編集・発行 北里大学学長室
発行日 2010年7月1日