Over the past two months, members of Negba’s Beersheva Teen Club experienced a unique riding workshop at a horse ranch near Beersheva. The workshop was not simply a series of fun outdoor trips; rather, it was a Therapeutic Riding (TR) program, a highly effective method recognized by health and welfare professionals that advances the emotional, physical, social and cognitive well-being of individuals.
The first session began with a conversation about commitment, a review of tasks, and an introduction to the horses. From that point on, the teens were literally in the saddle for the rest of the sessions, handling, cleaning, combing and riding on the horses.
“It was so much fun! I really enjoyed my horse,” said Ori, 14. “It was so cool that I learned how to direct her and she listened to all kinds of commands like walking, turning and stopping. I really felt in charge.”
But it took some time for the teens to deal with the responsibility placed before them. And for some, like Tehilla, 13, it forced them to confront their fears. “I was really scared at first,” she recalled. “I didn’t really like animals, but as the sessions continued, I learned to love my horse. I’m not afraid anymore.” Each youth eventually developed a strong bond with their equine partner. And they learned a lot about themselves in the process.
Thanks to the generosity of
Ms. Brigitte Bigar, Chair and Founder of the Israel Mitzvah Horses organization, the riding experience, like many of the other modules offered at the Teen Club, empowered the teens and taught them much about confronting challenges, about discipline, and about their abilities to achieve.
“It was so powerful, feeling that I was in complete control,” reflected Kessem, 16. “I felt so confident whenever I got on the horse.”