Four decades of horse-rid­ing plea­sures

Eastern Courier - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - IMO­GEN NEALE

Over 40 years and a chang­ing ad­dress, To­tara Park Rid­ing for the Dis­abled has man­aged to main­tain its friend­ship amongst vol­un­teers and fo­cus on riders and their out­comes.

That’s ac­cord­ing to Anne Cham­ber­lin who has been with the club for 38 years.

‘‘It’s man­aged to main­tain that through the 40 years, and [ we have] ex­panded our knowl­edge and abil­i­ties as time has gone on,’’ she says.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion started in 1977 and was ini­tially based at Whit­ford Pony Club. Cham­ber­lin says it was mainly lo­cal riders on bor­rowed horses.

‘‘We started with four riders and four horses. As we ex­panded, we needed a few horses of our own.’’

Their aim is to ‘‘pro­vide in­ter­ac­tion with horses to de­velop in­creased abil­ity, in­de­pen­dence and self worth for chil­dren and adults with phys­i­cal, in­tel­lec­tual, emo­tional and so­cial chal­lenges’’.

And ac­cord­ing to the RDA’s web­site, horse-rid­ing ther­apy com­ple­ments con­ven­tional ther­a­pies and spe­cial needs ed­u­ca­tion. Ben­e­fits to the rider in­clude im­proved sen­sory per­cep­tion, con­cen­tra­tion, mus­cle tone and em­pa­thy.

Around 17 years ago the lo­cal branch of Rid­ing for the Dis­abled moved from Whit­ford to To­tara Park. It now shares its Manukau grounds with a pony club and has nine horses which is ‘‘a good num­ber’’.

It has also ex­panded lessons from one to two days a week and thanks to the cov­ered arena, can op­er­ate in a wider range of weather con­di­tions.

‘‘We have six lit­tle ses­sions of four riders, so 48 riders over two days,’’ Cham­ber­lin says.

‘‘[The roof] has en­abled us to func­tion in Auck­land’s in­clement weather where it may rain, may not rain.’’

Cham­ber­lain says the or­ga­nis- ation has chil­dren and adults at­tend who come from East and South Auck­land. Riders pay a nom­i­nal fee for their lessons and the or­gan­i­sa­tion is al­ways look­ing for peo­ple to spon­sor a horse or help with fundrais­ing.

To­tara Park Rid­ing for the Dis­abled is hold­ing its 40th an­niver- sary af­ter­noon tea on Sun­day, Novem­ber 19, at How­ick Bowl­ing Club from 2pm to 4pm. Peo­ple who have been con­nected with the RDA in the past four decades, from vol­un­teers to vets, are in­vited. RSVP by Novem­ber 17 to an­necham­ber­lin@xtra.co.nz or 021 482 220.

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