Name: Aviva Kovo
Originally from: New York
Made Aliyah: August, 2013
Lives in: Modiin
Job: Veterinary Technician and soon-to-be Therapeutic Riding Instructor
From taking in stray cats at a young age to being an avid horseback rider, Aviva Kovo has always had a passion for animals. If the dainty silver horses dangling from her ears don’t give her away, her story definitely does!
After making Aliyah with her husband, three kids, two dogs, and a cat, this licensed veterinary technician had to learn how to take her profession from the U.S, and make it work here in Israel, where the industry is far less developed.
Lover of hands-on work, Aviva knows “I could never work a desk job!” Aviva’s newest venture is so appropriate – becoming certified as a therapeutic-riding instructor.
Aviva exudes passion for what she does, has a love of animals, and an excitement for where her newest career path is taking her.
Although the urban city of Modiin is her current place of residence, one day, she dreams of her own private home on a moshav, where she can raise her own horses, give lessons, and of course, ride those horses.
I sat down with Aviva to get the scoop on how this veterinary technician is riding the trail to success…
What did you do before moving to Israel?
I worked in a large, multi-specialty animal hospital in New York, running the surgical department, and being on call for emergencies.
What do you do now?
As a veterinary technician, I work with a vet in Modiin, doing anesthesia, drawing blood, and assisting in surgery.
I am also in school to become licensed as a therapeutic-riding instructor. We work with all kinds of people including those challenged by autism or ADHD as well as with paraplegics and soldiers with PTSD.
How did you find your job?
When we made Aliyah, I interviewed in a few veterinary offices in Modiin, most of which painted a very bleak picture of the industry in Israel. I then stumbled upon a new clinic that had opened up, and the veterinarian was impressed by my qualification, and was excited to have me on board!
How did you then get into therapeutic riding?
When we made Aliyah, it was a really tough time for me, and I was having a hard time finding my place here. My husband, who is very supportive of my horse hobby, would go to different stables to find work for me. He connected me with a horse-stable in Ben Shemen, where I would often go riding.
After a while, someone at the stable recommended certifying in therapeutic riding. I started networking in the Israel horseback-riding world, and found a prestigious, English-speaking, therapeutic-riding course. I have been studying there ever since.
What do you love most about your job?
I love animals- they are amazing! I love using them as a way to help people answer their needs. People with challenges are tired of traditional therapists, and appreciate something different. Animals give you just that; they don’t judge you, they are always straight with you, and you can always trust them. A horse gives you a different feeling- love and passion.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Sometimes, it is hard to connect with a specific rider. You have to constantly be creative in order to help them and teach them.
The hardest thing about my job as a vet technician is client compliancy.
How important is Hebrew to the field?
You must have pretty good Hebrew to speak to your riders, but you can speak any language to animals!
In both fields, there is not a ton of money. You do it more as a labor of love, and because it is something you are passionate about.
What is your background?
As well as being a licensed veterinary technician, I am certifying to be a therapeutic riding instructor. In my course, I am learning about therapeutic riding theory, different diseases, horse anatomy, and more.
I also plan and teach private horseback riding lessons for a broad spectrum of people. We use horseback riding as a tool to help people from improving motor skills, communication skills, and sensory skills, to building confidence, and helping people with self-empowerment.
What qualifications do you recommend for someone interested in the veterinary/ therapeutic-riding field in Israel?
Go to veterinary school if you love animals and are set to do this for your life. But, more important that formal schooling, expose yourself to animals, and understand them.
What advice would you give to someone interested in this field?
Make sure that it’s what you want to do. Have the passion and the drive-it’s very hot in Israel, and you are outside all the time for many hours. But, it’s extremely rewarding- you have to love it!
How do you feel about living in Israel?
I love it! My kids are so happy and they have so much freedom here. There is nothing better than my son telling me that dinner was “Taim Retzach!”