Feb 9, 2023 By Red Mountain Therapeutic Riding Center Category: Special Needs,
A Horse Called Beyoncé
THERAPEUTIC HORSEBACK RIDING has long been used as a tool for improving the lives of people with a range of cognitive, physical, and emotional impairments. But the costs are significant—from the expense of trained horses and specialized equipment to the right therapy staff. As part of its focus on ensuring that no member of Israeli society is left behind, Jewish National Fund has partnered with Red Mountain Therapeutic Riding Center (RMTRC) to provide therapeutic services to the Arava Valley community.
Red Mountain Therapeutic Riding Center, which is the only center of its kind within 200 miles, serves a broad spectrum of the special needs population, from school-age children to adults with cognitive, physical and emotional disabilities such as Cerebral Palsy and other brain injuries, autism, ADHD, and more.
The mention of the name Beyoncé revives images of the iconic singer who owns the global stage with smash hits like "Run The World (Girls)," "Love On Top," and so many others. Beyoncé is a powerful and electric artist loved worldwide, so it is no wonder that young Moshe* loves the new horse at Red Mountain Therapeutic Center named Beyonce.
Red Mountain Therapeutic Riding Center was founded about 20 years ago and provides professional equine therapeutic care to the most vulnerable citizens in the south from age three until it's no longer safe medically. The oldest rider at the moment is 75. The Center treats citizens with disabilities/special needs, for example, children on the spectrum, children with learning disabilities, ADHD, and/or social problems, and people with cancer or traumatized by a car accident.
Eight-year-old Moshe has been coming to the Red Mountain Therapeutic Riding Center for therapy for about a year. Moshe finds it challenging to interact with children his age, and his behavior is similar to that of a child half his age. Moshe's therapy equips him with the skills to feel less alone and build his confidence. This helps him become more independent and adaptive to change.
One day, Moshe had a great idea. He wanted to see the new horses and was curious if there were any pictures of them on the bulletin board. Moshe wanted the photos of the new horses to be featured on the information board, where everyone could see them. This showed significant progress with his therapy, as he felt confident enough to make these suggestions and ask for the action of the volunteer, Emily, who was with him at the time.
Emily took Moshe to see the new horses, and Eva got busy working on his suggestion and started photographing the horses. Moshe took a particular liking to one of the horses, named Beyoncé. Beyoncé has a very sweet, gentle, and curious nature. It is easy to see why Moshe bonded with her. The photographs of the horses were displayed on the bulletin board for everyone to see and enjoy.
After Moshe's therapeutic riding session, Ehud, his licensed equine therapist, took Moshe to the printed pictures of the new horses. Moshe wrote the names of each horse on the image, and together they hung them on the information board. Moshe was delighted by what he had accomplished! And everyone was very proud of him.
"This wonderful true story reminds me why I support Red Mountain Therapeutic Riding Center. It is beautiful, life-changing moments like these that show the wonderful bonds that are formed between horses and riders. I am so proud that my gift enables more children with special needs to benefit tremendously, both physically and emotionally, from the therapy they provide," says Debbie Peskin, a generous donor to Jewish National Fund-USA.
Jewish National Fund-USA and its amazing donors ensure that Red Mountain Therapeutic Riding Center can give scholarships for therapy to children with special needs. Funds also ensure good care for the horses, therapeutic farm, and the purchase of new horses if necessary. Scholarships, for a 50% return on the tuition fee after graduation, are also given to people who want to become licensed equine therapists at Red Mountain Therapeutic Riding Center. This is particularly important because it helps reduce the waiting list by an average of 6 months due to its growing need.
The benefits of equine therapy are truly phenomenal. Moshe is living proof. He has grown in confidence. He can now walk unaccompanied from the car to the ranch and is less dependent on his parents or Ehud for assistance. He can also ride his therapy horse without a side walker (usually one of the volunteers) and leads the horse by himself. Moshe confidently knows how to command the horse to stop and go into a trot and happily participates in group exercises. Ehud is very proud of his progress as a rider and his growing confidence. Moshe is less afraid of doing things alone and can communicate more easily with other children and express his feelings.
Thanks to Jewish National Fund USA, and generous donors, more disabled/special needs children can benefit from the equine therapy that Red Mountain Therapeutic Riding Center provides. Beyoncé must be proud too of little Moshe!
• Moshe is not his real name.
Jewish National Fund supports the costly treatment needed for therapeutic horseback riding through scholarships to families in need, allowing eligible families to receive funds that cover up to 75% of their sessions. Jewish National Fund also provides ongoing funding for the ranch’s horses, stables, classrooms, riding trails and arenas, wheelchair accessible paths, and specially trained therapists.