Riding school marks 40th birthday
Wellington Riding for the Disabled last month celebrated its 40-year anniversary with an afternoon tea at its Kenepuru premises.
The organisation provides an equine-based programme called Eagala that offers counselling and mental health services to residents.
It also offers an unmounted programme for up to 50 riders per week.
Wellington Riding for the Disabled was not always located in the Kenepuru Hospital Grounds, as it is today, president Donna Kennedy said.
‘‘It was founded 40 years ago at Ferndale in Waikanae under the coaching of Margaret Harris,’’ she said. ‘‘We moved to our current site in 1985 and it was developed with assistance from the local Lions clubs.’’
The group had developed its profile over the years by working with local schools, Workbridge, Arohata Women’s Prison, and other like- minded community groups and individuals, Ms Kennedy said.
‘‘Our programmes are supported by the committee, coaching team, operational manager, administrator, our current stable of steeds and nearly 60 other dedicated volunteers,’’ she said.
‘‘ They provide over 2000 sessions per annum, challenging our riders to achieve great things.’’
About 100 people attended the anniversary on October 13, including coaches, volunteers, and three of the four original founders of Wellington Riding for Disabled, Ms Kennedy said.
‘‘We think it’s quite a significant milestone. [It’s] to celebrate those who have gone before us, built it into what it is, and to celebrate who we are and what we do.’’
Wellington Riding for the Disabled have achieved some significant successes over the years.
Co- founder Diana Standen received a Queen’s Service Medal and Jackie Kidd and Catherine McMahon have represented New Zealand at the Special Olympics.
Jan Nixon was nominated for Wellingtonian of the year and Sarah Piper won student volunteer coach of the year and a scholarship to Outward Bound.
Laura Rutten was named finalist in the Community Young Leaders awards.
Wellington Riding for the Disabled horse Bilbo won horse of the year in 2009.
Mrs Kennedy was named New Zealand Riding for the Disabled coach of the year in 2012.
The organisation won the Wellington Airport regional community sport awards in 2012 for the Porirua region and was a finalist in the Westpac Business Excellence awards that year.
Dream team: Wellington Riding for the Disabled founding members and coaches, from left, Jane Cregoe, Judy Haw, Jenny Roy, Diana Standen, Janet Ritchie, Judy Whittaker and Margaret Harris.
Celebratory: Wellington Riding for the Disabled’s 40th birthday cake.