Volunteer training at RDA

Volunteer training at RDA

Riding for the Disabled volunteers (Front) Clare Malone, Vernita Collins, Angela Crane, Judy Britton, and (back) April McArthur, Margot Bulger, and Sue Prosser.

Riding for the Disabled held a volunteer training session on Thursday morning, but they say they can always use more helping hands.

Volunteer Margot Bulger said that it’s a common misconception that volunteers need experience with horses to help out, when in fact they shouldn’t let that put them off in the slightest.

“People come in a lot with no horse knowledge and they do really well,” she said.

“Sometimes it’s actually easier because we have to do things a certain way [according to RDA policy]. It’s really hard if you’ve done something one way all your life and then we say no you can’t do that here. Even I do things differently at home with my own horses than I do here!”

Available work includes horse handling, being responsible for the riders, cleaning and washing up, feeding, fundraising, administration, maintenance, and paddock work.

They are also currently on the lookout for someone with a green thumb, who can help them out with a sensory garden halfway through being built.

“That’s what else we’re really after, someone who’s interested in gardening,” she said.

“We’re working on a sensory garden project, something for the riders when they’re not on the horses. We want it to be a community thing not just for the RDA.”

Riding days at the Riding for the Disabled Tumut facility are Thursdays and every second Sunday.

Their clients include people from Valmar, area schools, and individuals coming with their carers.

Volunteer Judy Britton said participating in the program is a rewarding experience.

“You see the riders come, and they’re a bit afraid to touch the horse or even go near it sometimes, and then they slowly come round and they’ll work up to eventually putting their arms around it…it’s so lovely for them to go from [being quite nervous] to having a beautiful connection with the horse,” she said.

“You see their smiles and there’s so much satisfaction from that. You realise you’re achieving something.”

Their Thursday meeting was to discuss new standards and regulations put in place by Riding for the Disabled Association Australia, which is run through the Australian Horse Industry Council.

“We’ve always had a really good safety standard but there was nothing to prove it; there was nothing in writing, so they’ve brought all these new forms in,” Ms Bulger said.