Rid­ing for dis­abled suc­cess

Wairarapa News - - CLASSIFIEDS - STAFF RE­PORTER

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.

JACK BAR­LOW/ STUFF

Three-year-old Grace O’Dwyer in the mid­dle of a Rid­ing for the Dis­abled ses­sion. Sheri Wales looks on.

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