Riding for disabled success
Don’t tell the Riding for Disabled volunteers they’re just giving out pony rides.
The Masterton chapter of Riding for the Disabled (RDA), located behind the Rv Hullena sports ground, has helped hundreds of people with varying disabilities
RDC head coach Wendy Taylor said the organisation’s volunteers came from all walks of life.
‘‘We have people from mothers to teacher aides ... everyone brings lots of skill and experience,’’ she said.
‘‘We currently have 24 riders ranging from about two-and-a-half to 62. They’re facing physical, social, intellectual and emotional needs, [of which] there are many subcategories.’’
Riders are often referred to the organisation by parents and specialists.
They’re given goals - for example, improved communication for a child who can’t speak - which are then transferred to the riding arena.
‘‘Autistic children, for example, become more relaxed, more able to cope in classroom situations. They can transfer the skills they learn here to real life situations.’’
The horses are picked carefully, for obvious reasons, and take their riders on a series of tracks and mild obstacle courses. It’s a very structured environment, as well as a safe one, and the riders know what to expect.
‘‘We try to keep the same [team] as much as possible,’’ Taylor said.
There are 56 RDA Groups throughout New Zealand. The organisation was formally introduced to New Zealand in 1962.
Riding began as a sub group in Hawke’s Bay, interest from which prompted the formation of the NZRDA in 1972.
Three-year-old Grace O’Dwyer in the middle of a Riding for the Disabled session. Sheri Wales looks on.