Youngsters given riding lessons
Nine young people from Hamilton who have never had an opportunity to encounter horses will experience the value that a relationship with a horse can offer these school holidays.
Dr Ngapare Hopa of Ngati Wairere, who worked with the Waikato Combined Equestrian Group Incorporated (WCEG) and TOTI Trust throughout the War Horse Statue Memorial Project as a tangata whenua adviser, devised the War Horse Memorial Learn to Ride Fund concept.
She donated the first $1500 to the fund, which has been created to benefit Ma¯ ori children in particular, who would otherwise not have an opportunity to experience horses.
The War Horse statue is a tribute to the thousands of horses — and the troopers — of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles, including many from the Waikato, who served in campaigns of World War I and before.
It was installed at Memorial Park on November 11 as part of Armistice Day commemorations.
As a legacy project to honour the war horses of New Zealand the fund’s purpose is to continue to impart the story of New Zealand’s war horses by providing opportunities for children and young people to participate in equestrian activities who otherwise would not be able to participate.
Students from Maeroa Primary, Frankton Primary and Fraser High school were selected, based on information provided by their teachers to take part in the day.
The students, partnered with volunteer pony trainees, completed a number of tasks over the two days, including grooming the horse, learning about the history of horses in New Zealand, and riding them.
President of the Waikato Combined Equestrian Centre, Noeline Jeffries, called it a special occasion.
“The benefits to children is selfesteem,” Ms Jeffries said. something to care for and something to do.”
She said the lessons of responsibility that the children are learning now will stay with them into adulthood.
“It gives them a sense of responsibility and a sense of self worth.”
Ms Jeffries would like to see the programme continue to grow, but understands that funding may be a problem.
“We will need more horses, so we are looking to buy new horses and new safety helmets,” Ms Jeffries said.
“We are looking for sponsors to fund that, and looking for sponsors to fund these children to continue the programme.”
The cost per child for the course is $190 each for the two days from 1.30pm to 5.30pm.
That is currently being covered by the Learn to Ride Fund.
Chairwoman for the board managing the project, Marlene Williams, said the pilot project has got off to a great start.
“The enthusiasm and excitement from the children and schools wishing to participate in the pilot has been thrilling,” Ms Williams said.
The War Memorial Learn to Ride Fund will subsidise a range of equestrian-based activities including farm rides, school holiday programmes, group riding lessons, pony club and work experiences (eg. pony trainees, stable assistants, etc.)
Beginning with holiday programmes in July 2018, it is expected that the programme will expand to include farm rides taking place in Term 3 of the 2018 school year.
Kane King from Fraser High School was the most eager student to get on his horse.
President of the Waikato Combined Equestrian Centre, Noeline Jeffries, held a brief history of the horse session with the students before they saddled up.
Mihiel Morrison looked a natural as he mounted his horse Snowy.
Molly and Zion Jones from Frankton Primary School leading Banner out from the paddock.