Horse riding and hotted up utes are poles apart but the owners of the polished vehicles in the recent Gunnedah Show ‘n’ Shine ute show revealed their generosity when thy raised $500 for the Gunnedah Riding For Disabled. 

The cheque was presented during the opening of the 2022 Gunnedah Show and the recipients could not be happier. 

RDA president Richard White said the money would be put to good use to help disabled riders in the community. 

“We are always in need of extra funds for feed, equipment and horses,” he said.

“We are very grateful to the organisers of the ute show for this generous donation.”

 Riding for Disabled needs suitable new horses for the disabled riders as some of their hard-working and loyal mounts are “getting on in years”.

RDA coach Prue Lister said the group is looking for horses 10 years and over and around 15 hands.

“They must be physically sound and literally ‘bomb proof’ for the riders,” Prue said.

“We are also in need of more volunteers to help walk with the riders, you don’t have to have experience with horses, just a desire to help.

“We are starting up again on Friday, April 29, at 10am, at the showground and would love to see more people come along to help.”

The group caters for people with  a range of intellectual, physical and learning disabilities who gain enormous benefits from the activities on offer at RDA, including carriage rides.

Prue said there is something about the movement of a horse that stimulates the riders.

“There is definitely an affinity between a horse and rider – a young rider with severely contracted muscles, no power of speech and a very unhappy demeanour can be lifted onto a horse, held there and led around an arena for a half hour, and we notice that some of the muscles have relaxed allowing the legs to drop a little, and most importantly, at the end of the ride we see a smile,” she said.

RDA is a voluntary, non-profit organisation which provides opportunities for anyone with a disability to enjoy safe, healthy, stimulating, therapeutic, horse-related activities across Australia.

The local branch became fully accredited on August 9, 1987, after a long and drawn-out process to raise funds, gather equipment and attain qualified instructors. 

“No person with a disability is refused by this centre as long as the required permission from parents and doctors is given – we have riders who are so physically compromised that two side-walkers are required to hold them in the saddle for the duration of their ride,” Prue said.

Anyone who would like to “make a difference” to the lives of people living with  a disability  can contact RDA Gunnedah secretary Bett Craig on 6742 5812 or by email [email protected]

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