RDA Hunter Group Delivering Skills and Wellbeing for Disabled in Port Stephens

Amelia Musgrave and her volunteer helper.

 

RIDING for the Disabled Hunter Group first started in February 1980 at Irrawang Park.

They are fully accredited.

The organisations provides individual programs tailored to suit the wide range and levels of disability of our clients.

Riders are accepted from all disability groups offering a range of social benefits and well-being.

Riders are assessed by a Coach prior to the program, considering potential benefits, safety, and weight.

Our aim is to reach the rider’s maximum ability level while enjoying the movement of the horse, the relationship it offers with the rider and having fun.

Judy Edwards, RDA’s Volunteer Coordinator told News Of The Area, “Initially, riders with more severe disabilities are assisted by up to two helpers (side walkers) and a leader.

As the rider’s skills and confidence increases, many graduate to the ultimate aim of being able to ride independently.

The Riders do a range of activities in their programs to assist with development and motor skills.

RDA runs general riding programs, a dressage program and yearly a Hippotherapy which means using the horse as a therapy tool.

“Our Centre has a wonderful “Sensory Garden” which offers lots of sensory activities in the outdoors for the Riders.

“We are currently finishing off a “horse playground” which will offer more challenging experiences for the horses and riders.

“We have riders that come in school groups and individually.

Programs run 6 days a week.

RDA horses come from a wide variety of backgrounds including: Pony clubs, retired dressage horses or privately owned horses.

RDA looks for horses in the age range of 8 to 18 years of age who are well mannered and have good temperaments.

Horses are donated, on loan or sometimes purchased by the centre.

“Our horses go through training in readiness for our programs before our riders are on their backs which can take up to 3 months,” she said.

There are many costs involved in running the wonderful centre besides the most obvious, RDA’s beautiful four legged friends, with operating costs of up to $130,000 per year, relying on fundraising, grants and community support.

Many of the volunteers come to help out because of their love of horses but often say they “stay for the riders”.

RDA trains volunteers who have an interest in working with horses and people with a disability.

Volunteers are being sought for the Friday afternoon/ evening program.

All volunteer enquiries to [email protected] or 49871402.

 

By Marian SAMPSON

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