Four decades of horse-riding pleasures
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 021 482 220.