The Israel National Therapeutic Riding Association (INTRA) is a non-profit organization committed to teaching equine skills and horseback riding to mentally and physically challenged adults and children, injured soldiers, and their families and friends.

WHO WE ARE

INTRA is located in an idyllic setting on Moshav Bnei Zion, where we welcome riders both from Israel and abroad, who can benefit from equine therapy. Riders receive individualized, hands-on training from a team of dedicated and highly skilled staff. In addition, INTRA provides vocational training and is engaged in research and development on the uses and benefits of equine therapy.

Within weeks of starting INTRA’s sessions, most riders show dramatic improvement in their ability to face the challenges of their disability. INTRA’s therapy is generally recognized as a special holistic therapeutic force now used worldwide by many health professionals, practitioners, psychologists and medical institutions.

INTRA’s program has the support of the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Education and Sport, the Israel Equestrian Federation, and other local institutions.

HISTORY

INTRA was founded in 2000 by Anita and Giora Shkedi, a caring husband and wife team, together with a board of trustees. Their long and successful experience with therapeutic riding in Israel dates back to 1985, when Anita founded therapeutic horseback riding in Israel  — they have worked in the field ever since.

Based on their work at the Hadassah Neurim Village, they recognized a unique opportunity to extend their teaching to a much wider audience, by encouraging the disabled to experience normal riding activity in a beautiful environment, while integrating with the able-bodied.

In the summer of 2013 INTRA moved to Bnei Zion in the Hof Hasharon Valley, which is in the center of Israel near the towns of Ra’anana, Hertzliya, Netanya and Kefar Sava. This new center for therapeutic riding offers the most professional services to meet its varied clients needs. Included in these client needs are those of Israeli soldiers who are suffering from PTSD and traumatic brain injury.

CORE VALUES

INTRA is a therapeutic riding center, which provides expert and loving therapy and support for all challenged riders and their families. At the same time. INTRA offers expert professional training for its instructors, and loving care of its horses. INTRA is an organization with the highest possible standards for risk supervision, safety, administration and medical management. We are totally current with the therapeutic knowledge and practice.

STAFF

INTRA was established in 2000 by a team of professionals with many years of professional experience. Their caring and visionary manager and therapeutic director, Dr. Anita Shkedi, leads the organization. Originally from England, Anita introduced therapeutic riding to Israel in 1985. She has a Doctorate and a Masters degree in Education, a postgraduate diploma in Preventive Medicine, a British State Registration Nursing diploma and a Therapeutic Riding Instructor¹s certificate.

Dr. Shkedi is the founder of the Wingate Diploma for Therapeutic Riding Instructors and continues to run the course. She has been a member of the IPEC (International Paralympics Equestrian Committee) since 1996. In 2006, this committee became a new branch of the Federation Equestrian International, (FEI)  Dr. Shkedi has taught and trained instructors in therapeutic riding in more than 15 countries.

Supporting Dr. Shekdi is the INTRA team of therapeutic riding instructors, physiotherapists and education experts. The therapeutic riding instructors bring their vast life experience, believing that it is best to work as a team and to consult regularly with professionals from other disciplines to enhance the therapy:

  • Our physical therapy team is led by Susanne von Dietze Polak, an international expert in this field of medicine
  • INTRA’s occupational therapist is Miri Erez, who is also an advisor to Rotem, a branch of Kupat Holim Clalit
  • INTRA’s farm manager, Giora Shkedi, brings many years of experience in both equine skills and horse- farm management.

In addition, INTRA is served by young adults from Sherut Leumi, who are providing National Service through our organization.

HORSES

Our beautiful horses are very special. They have power and perception, sensitivity and rhythm making them a symbol of nobility, a source of inspiration and beauty to all our riders.
They inspire feelings that activate intuitive behavior giving strength to conquer, possess, enoble, hope and dream.
Their rhythmic movements and sensory interpretations act as a living exercise apparatus stimulating our bodies in a total exercise program.

Dance, Born in 1997 in Israel (a Sabra), grey in color. Her mother is a half conemara and half thoroughbred. Her father was an Irish thoroughbred steeple chaser who won several races in his life in Germany. Dance is a very large horse with a generous heart. She is easy and comfortable to ride. She does not get disturbed by any excessive noise, or other animals.  She is sensitive to touch and can make funny faces if she is not brushed with care. Dance works well with nervous riders and those who are severely challenged.

Jerry, Born in 1997 in Holland, flaxen gold in color, Jerry is a pure bred Haflinger (cold blood). Jerry has spent most of her life helping children to learn to ride.  She had one short break where she spent time pulling a carriage.  Jerry has a wonderful movement and has become one of the best Hippo therapy horses at INTRA.

Pocahontas (Pokey), Born in 1998 in Israel (a Sabra) pinto colored with large brown and white patches, she is a ¾ quarter horse ¼ thoroughbred. Pokey is a most wonderful riding horse who is loved by adults and children alike.  She has helped many riders regain confidence in themselves.

Kirby (Sean), Born in 1999 in Israel (a Sabra) pinto colored with large dark brown and white patches. Sean is a mixture of Arab and English riding horse. As a young horse he needed a very active training program. He is a fairly new member to our team and has just started work giving some of our challenged riders an excellent ride even though he bothers other horses when they go out together in the field.

Baron is a part Welsh-bred pony! He is a blue eyed, red roan, flaxen-maned fellow, who is also over 30 years old. He was a dressage and show-jumping champion in Israel in his prime. He has now given thousands of hours of riding to many children and teenagers.  He is a great all-around therapist for everyone from the very small, severely challenged children to our rambunctious teenagers. Baron is a great communicator and can help his riders acquire listening and expressive skills too.

TINY – A Welsh Pony born in the North of Israel. He is a grey-white pony who will eventually turn white. He has the most beautiful face and kind eyes.  Tiny is one of our two newest ponies at INTRA, and he has started his working life carrying small children with severe physical challenges. As he moves with grace and beauty, spirit and freedom, he encourages his young riders to find strength and motivation. Tiny will bring much joy and happiness to his tiny riders.  Tiny has received his name from Temple Israel New York.

Starlight is the daughter of Pocahontas, born in 2003.  She is also pinto coloured like her mother, with the addition of very special blue eyes. She also has an amazing long, multi-coloured mane, which the children love to care for and keep plaited. Starlight is a truly talented small horse who, after 4 years of training, became a dressage champion. She now works at INTRA, giving all her riders a taste of what great riding is all about. She has also been trained for Western riding, so she can perform just about any movement in the arena: sideways, backwards, jumping, etc.. Starlight is a calm, sure ride who loves to work and is a great favourite here at INTRA.

Chika – Chikolina Boss, Chika is an 8 year old Palomino Quarter Horse. She is an amazing therapeutic horse that loves kids even more than horses and is always happy to help adults as well. She was originally a reining horse and is able to do almost everything you ask of her, if you only ask politely enough. Chika has recently become a mother and is currently on maternity leave but she will be back to her routine very soon.

Big Mama Born in 2003 Big Mama is an old purebred Austrian Haflinger who made aliyah by boat to work and live at INTRA. She is 57 inches tall and full of patience. Mama is exceptionally good with the heavyweight riders and challenged kids. She loves to challenge the able, more professional riders and tests them while they ride or compete. She enjoys getting out of her halter and going for walks around the farm.

Shimshon was born in 2004 and is a pure Palomino Quarter horse. He was trained to be a reining horse and competed for many years. On our farm, Shimshon teaches us a lot about Western riding while he helps us with our therapeutic work. He is so good that he uses a bitless bridle. Shimshon is an amazingly calm horse, but if the chance arises and he manages to get loose, we all must use our cowboy strength to catch him!

Ernesto Born in 2003 and comes from a long line of cutting horses (horses that work with cattle). Ernesto is patient, relaxed and enjoys working at therapeutic lessons. However, once an experienced rider mounts him, the rider really has to convince Ernesto to work for him. Ernesto is a very good teacher! The name of his good friend is Smokey. Sometimes Ernesto is jealous when Smokey gets more attention than him, but they really do love playing together.

Pedro is a 58 inch, 8 year old local horse. He is a relatively new horse on our farm. When he came to INTRA, we saw that he was a very shy and timid horse by nature.  But, Pedro is also a smart horse who learns quickly. He is learning that INTRA is a safe and warm place to be and he has started to open up to his rider friends. His best friend on the farm, however, is the new pony, Fiona, and he seems very comforted when she is around him.

Valentine / Cuddles was born in Israel in 2007. She is a beautiful Palomino Quarter Horse of famous parentage. She is half-sister to Shimshon. Because of the nurturing rides that Valentine gives the children, they also call her Cuddles.  Even though she has been fully trained and can do reining, sideways movements and go backwards, she has devoted her life to taking care of challenged riders at INTRA.  Valentine shows our challenged riders that she has all the same feelings that they have.  She can feel tired, hungry, bored, and thirsty. This helps the children relate to her. When they see that she can overcome her moods and still perform properly, then they are motivated to do the same. The children say her ride is magic.

INTRA has created a warm and friendly environment in which the staff, horses, volunteers and disabled riders work together in harmony towards a common goal.  The success of our program has brought about even greater demands for this extraordinary therapy.