Therapeutic Horseback Riding in Israel

Filed in Health by on 24/07/2013 2 Comments
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Therapeutic Riding for the Disabled


While horses figure prominently in biblical Israel, until a short time ago, horses were little known in the modern State of Israel. Over the last two decades however, there has been something of a revolution in all things equestrian in the country. Israel’s terrain and wide open spaces makes it eminently suited to horseback riding.

horse up close

(Photo: SuperJew, CC BY-SA 3.0)

As the popularity of horseback riding grew, many creative horseback riding experiences came into being. One area of equestrian exploration in Israel involves therapeutic horseback riding for various disabilities. Today there are several operative therapeutic riding centers in Israel serving a significant demand for this service as people learn about the many benefits of this innovative therapy.

Horse-loving visitors to Israel are sure to find a visit to any of the following therapeutic riding centers an interesting, educational, and moving experience.

Therapeutic Riding

The non-profit organization known as the Israel National Therapeutic Riding Association (INTRA) not only offers therapeutic riding to those with disabilities, but also trains and certifies therapeutic riding specialists. INTRA’s efforts are supported by the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Sports and Culture, Tel Aviv University, the Animal Society, Sports for the Disabled, the Equestrian Federation, and others. INTRA is located at the Hadassah Youth Village, not far from Netanya.

Aerobic Workout

INTRA experts explain that therapeutic riding makes use of horses and horseback riding as a therapy to treat people suffering from a wide variety of conditions and disabilities. The benefits of therapeutic riding are connected to the rhythmic movement of horses and to the good aerobic workout provided by horseback riding, which lends a sense of power, control, and mobility to riders. Therapeutic riding can improve muscle tone, balance, strength, cognition, memory, communication, attention span, sensory motor control, spatial awareness, impulse control, body awareness, self-image, and self-confidence.

Volunteer

Another possible option is to roll up your sleeves and serve as a volunteer—a great way to work with horses and do good while spending time in Israel. Some of the volunteers live at the INTRA farm. For more information on volunteering call INTRA 972 (09) 8666305.

Animal Assisted Therapies

In addition to INTRA, there is the Tel Mond-based Therapeutic Riding Center of Israel (TRCI), another non-profit organization dedicated to helping those with disabilities with Animal Assisted Therapies (AAT) including:

· therapeutic horseback riding,

· hippo therapy (physiotherapy aided by a horse),

· canine therapy, and

· combined dog and horse treatments

Over 700 people are enrolled in the various therapeutic programs and training courses offered at TRCI, which are held in cooperation with the Israeli Sports Academy at Wingate.

The staff at TRCI includes psychologists, physiotherapists, social workers, occupational therapists, medical advisors, therapeutic riding instructors, dog trainers, and more than 300 volunteers. TRCI helps those from all walks of life and with all sorts of disabling conditions, including children with cerebral palsy or vision impairment and adults suffering from trauma due to terror, war, or car accidents. The youngest patient treated at the center was just two years old, while the oldest rider was in his late seventies. TRCI often uses a combination of specially trained horses and dogs to improve functioning in several areas.

Indoor Facilities

TRCI has both outdoor and indoor facilities and is situated on an area covering 40 dunams. The center also has an indoor riding arena covering 2000 square meters. The center has horse breeds known for carrying heavy loads, such as Halflinger and Danish, Swiss horses, and Welsh and Newforest ponies, known to be especially suited to working with children.

In addition to the various animal therapies and courses provided at the center, TRCI hosts a number of equestrian-related events including Israel’s yearly Special Olympics, the National Dressage competition, the National Reining Horse Association show, and an annual Arabian horse exhibition.

For further information Email: trci@trci.org.il or phone: (09) 799-8989.

Life Farm

Chavat Chaim (Life Farm), located in Raanana north of Kiryat Sharet is owned and managed by husband and wife team Shlomi and Frieda Pillersdorf. Frieda made a study of alternative communication and was a pioneer in offering therapeutic riding sessions to Israeli patients with severe head trauma injuries. Today, she works with at risk children; terror attack survivors; brain trauma patients; children with cerebral palsy, autism, or developmental disorders; and those of all ages and backgrounds suffering from the gamut of emotional and physical conditions. Frieda and Shlomi have been offering their services as a therapeutic riding facility for a full decade. Email: havathachaim@gmail.com or phone: (09) 772-7844.

Did You Know?

While Chavat Chaim specializes in therapeutic riding, the farm also offers assisted animal therapy with smaller animals including goats, dogs, rabbits, and birds.

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Comments (2)

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  1. Karen Tanner says:

    Is it possible to volunteer at the farm while visiting Israel? Could I get some more information via email or regular postage mail?

    • rj says:

      Hi Karen, we’ve added a link in the post under the heading “Therapeutic Riding.” Click on INTRA’s name which will take you to a website listing this and a number of similar organizations that you can contact about volunteer opportunities. Best, RJ

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