“HEROES AND HORSES”
VETERANS WITH POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD), HEAD INJURIES, AND PHYSICAL INJURIES
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a debilitating mental disorder in which, following exposure to a life-threatening event, an individual may experience symptoms of hyper-arousal, flashbacks and intrusive thoughts, avoidance of trauma-related reminders, and emotional numbness. These symptoms can impair one’s functionality, quality of life, interpersonal relationships, emotion regulation skills, and capacity to maintain employment. EAAT is an evidence-based treatment that has been found to effectively reduce post-traumatic stress and symptoms relating to anxiety and depression. This special program specifically empowers and motivates veterans to gain self-confidence through ranch maintenance and horseback riding activities. Participants take part in an individualized two-year program that includes weekly therapeutic riding and groundwork sessions. By developing a meaningful human-horse connection, participants regain the ability to contain and experience positive emotions, reestablish interpersonal relationships, and develop a sense of trust and self-worth.
"At INTRA I came to understand that I am surrounded by the most understanding and empathetic people who made me feel that I am good the way I am... The smell of the horses made me feel at home, and being around these magnificent, gentle giants made me feel safe again".
"TAKE THE REINS"
YOUTH AND CHILDREN AT RISK
This program provides therapeutic riding services for at-risk youth and children living in out-of-home settings. Most of these young participants have left their families’ homes for good, having suffered neglect or abuse. As a result, they deal with social and behavioral difficulties, ongoing mental health challenges, and problems with drug and alcohol use. INTRA’s year-long therapeutic riding program provides new opportunities for growth and stability. Participants focus on mindfulness, trust, self-confidence, competence, and emotional regulation. Additionally, they develop spatial and physical awareness and an improvement in motor skills. The unique bond formed between teen and horse is rewarding and evokes feelings of respect and trust, thus enabling participants to build healthier relationships in their personal lives.
"The moment we started at INTRA I began to see improvements...it's the miracle ranch."
"INTO THE SADDLE"
CHILDREN WITH INTELLECTUAL, PHYSICAL, AND DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES
Since its inception, INTRA has provided equine therapy for children with a variety of intellectual and physical disabilities including cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, chronic illnesses, vision and hearing impairments, autism spectrum disorder, and various developmental disorders and disabilities. Many children participating in this program have limited mobility, relying upon aids such as walkers or wheelchairs. Some also have very little independent function and require assistance and supervision to complete daily tasks such as eating or changing clothes. This year-long program focuses on dignity, independence, and fun. Every program participant receives individualized hands-on therapy from our team of highly dedicated professional staff. Within weeks of starting EAAT, many children develop an improved sense of balance, physical strength, improved muscle tone and coordination, and a reduction in spasms and involuntary contractions. Socially, they show dramatic improvement in their ability to interact with others, gains in self-esteem, and a heightened sense of belonging. These physical and social skills are then generalized to day-to-day function.
Excerpt from a Poem Written by Zadok Omasi (Adult with CP): When I’m on a horse…all the differences and disabilities suddenly disappear and slowly the dream comes true.
EQUINE STUDIES MATRICULATION PROGRAM FOR YOUTH AT RISK
In this program, at-risk youth with learning disabilities and behavior challenges complete a matriculation program in equine studies (bagrut) for credit towards their high-school education. Participants come from two schools for at-risk students with special needs. For instance, nearly all participants cope with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), a disorder characterized by challenges in dealing with impulsivity, delayed gratification, focus and concentration, self-esteem, and task management. This program aims to provide an opportunity for concrete academic success, improved social skills, and confidence building.
"Equine therapy is helping to develop my daughter's balance, walking and awareness of her body, and INTRA is such a
peaceful place that the atmosphere here helps my daughter stabilize her emotional condition as well."
RECOVERY FROM SUBSTANCE ABUSE AND DUAL PATHOLOGY
Dual pathology is the condition of simultaneously coping with mental illness and a substance abuse problem. Approximately half of mentally ill individuals will also experience a substance use disorder at some point in their lives. EAAT is a unique intervention that can help clients with dual pathology address their mental health and substance abuse problems together. Horses play an important role in treatment due to their keen sensitivity to changes in a person’s emotional and mental state. Participants in this program come to INTRA once a week from an inpatient recovery center. During weekly two-hour sessions, they expand their repertoire of coping skills, acquire horsemanship skills, build positive relationships, and enjoy the soothing ranch atmosphere.
CHALLENGE RIDING AND CARRIAGE RIDING
Our newest program allows riders with physical handicaps to take part in the joy of equine assisted activities and therapy through accessible equipment and apparatuses such as carriages and chariots. Available for participants of all ages, from toddlers to senior citizens, this program works with ponies of the smaller variety who are dedicated to providing riders with the best experience.
EEAT PRACTITIONER TRAINING PROGRAM
INTRA’s one-year (480 hours) diploma course combines a broad theoretical curriculum with practical application. The course is associated with PATH (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship) International, opening up global employment opportunities for INTRA graduates. To date, Dr. Shkedi and her team have trained over 8,000 EAAT practitioners who now work throughout Israel, the USA, the UK, and Europe. This certification covers the basics of EAAT, including therapeutic riding, hippotherapy, physiology, anatomy, psychology, child development, ethics, treatment-plan building, and more.