While horseback riding may not be the first activity people conjure up when thinking of Israel, it has become increasingly popular here, both for riding lessons and for trail rides.One significant aspect of the sport that is growing in popularity and acceptance is therapeutic horse riding. Therapeutic riding is a form of treatment that focuses on – among other things – the needs of the rider to create a connection between horse and rider. This activity has been shown to improve physical, cognitive and social skills. In Israel, the health funds often cover this therapy for those with physical or mental disabilities or those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.One place that offers therapeutic riding, along with riding lessons and trail rides for enjoyment, is the Omri Ranch. The ranch – which has specialized in therapeutic riding since its inception in 1997 – is located in Jerusalem near Moshav Ora and is accessible by public transportation. It was established by Yaakov and Shlomit Gigi and is very much a family-run business. Their son, Eli, now runs the business on a day-today basis. The ranch works with all four health funds and teaches riders from as young as three years of age up through the elderly. A specially priced trial lesson is offered before deciding whether to sign up for a course of three to six months’ duration. For therapeutic riding, a preliminary meeting is held with the instructor, the participant and the parent (where the participant is a minor) to coordinate goals and expectations for the lessons and to address issues and concerns.