Young­sters given rid­ing lessons

Hamilton News - - Front Page - Tom Row­land

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.

Pho­tos / Tom Row­land

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.

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