Feb 3, 2013  By Jewish National Fund  Category: Special Needs,

Therapeutic Horseback Riding - Galloping Ahead at ALEH

The Therapeutic Horseback Riding Program at ALEH Negev-Nahalat Eran has made great strides forward – and residents are riding to success! 

A pilot program was instituted a few months ago, and the results have proven amazingly successful!  Horses and special carriages designed for the disabled are brought in from the north ever week, and a group of residents with varying disabilities participated in each pilot test, some as riders and some as passengers on specialized carriages pulled by one of the horses. Either a volunteer or Aleh staff member accompanied each resident, often walking alongside the horse or carriage or sitting together with the resident on the horse or cart. In many cases, a wheel chair was hoisted onto the carriage so as to ensure proper posturing and balance.

Before setting up the program, the physical conditions of the main track at the village had to be adjusted to accommodate the horses’ hooves, pebbles were removed from the smaller track, and sun shades were installed along both paths.

The program tracked the emotional responses of participants, as well as measuring balance, reaction between the rider and the horse, interest generated, speech and communication involving the activity, alertness to what was happening in the background and cognition of the entire process.

In addition to horsing around, participants have demonstrated improved physical abilities, balance and coordination while at the same time releasing tension and energy in a positive way and improved self-confidence.

The Riding Program at Aleh Negev-Nahlat Eran has proven so successful that it will be continued for an additional period of time and may eventually be incorporated into the school’s permanent curriculum.  Ride On!