British-born, Anita Shkedi is the pioneer of therapeutic horse riding in Israel. She is recognized internationally for developing riding programs for people suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Shkedi was raised around horses and studied nursing in London. In the mid 1980’s she moved to Israel and took a job as a riding instructor. There she met her second husband and together they established a disabled riding program. Word of their program’s successes spread and soon they were inidated with requests from disabled children, adults and Isaraeli war veterans.
“I used to do 80 lessons a week by myself and I took no money for the lessons, we lived from my savings.”
“A horse’s rhythmic movement can improve physical problems by activating elements of the central nervous system,” states Shkedi. “I remember one man with Multiple Sclerosis coming from Uruguay. He arrived in a terrible state and couldn’t move. We treated him and he went back much improved. Riding is a great help to MS sufferers as it increases their mobility.”
Recognizing her efforts, the Israeli government ask Shkedi to develop a diploma course to train others on therapeutic riding.
“Working with the horses is a connection to emotions and disabled people have also suffer emotionally,” she explains. “It’s something that medication can’t help with. There is a chunk missing which is connected to a person’s motivation, their self-esteem, their emotional side. Operating surgically on someone doesn’t deal with the soul.
Shkedi is sought internationally as a clinician on the benefits of therapeutic riding for the physically and mentally disabled. She served on the International Paralympics Committee for 8 years. She has published several books and articles on the need for more Therapeutic Riding programs. In 2015 she was awarded The Chariman’s Award of Excellence from the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
Says Shkedi, “It is a sad fact that it often takes a life-changing illness or injury to make people realize that we are all basically the same. We all feel the same pain, have the same fears and insecurities, and need help to be there when we need it most. “
Shkedi’s stable, INTRA (Israel National Therapeutic Riding Association), is located in central Israel.