By Emma Xerri
After more than 40 years of incredible work at Doveton’s Myuna Farm, the team at Riding for the Disabled (RDA) are on the lookout for more volunteers and horses to restore their horse-riding program to its former glory.
The program, which offers riding lessons for people of all ages with disabilities, has suffered a drop in coaches and horses available for their riders, and the riders are unfortunately missing out as a result.
“Years ago we ran five days a week and now we’re running two or three days a week, because we just don’t have enough coaches. We have enough riders eager to ride, but we’re desperate for people willing to train as coaches,” Fundraising Coordinator Coosje Dubach said.
“One of our adult riders doesn’t even have a horse to ride anymore, which is really disappointing, so we hope to give him the opportunity to ride again.”
For Ms Dubach, who has been involved with the organisation for more than 20 years and has spent time in almost every role the program has to offer, there is no shortage of positive impacts for both the rider and volunteer.
“I got started 23 years ago after an article I actually saw in the Berwick news. They were asking for volunteers and my youngest had just started high school so I had a bit of time on my hands. I’ve always loved horses and it’s just such a rewarding experience to see the students’ big smiles and watch them achieve new goals.
“It is fantastic for their muscle development and their mental health. We even have some children who are in wheelchairs that are able to learn to ride, so it’s a really big thing for these students.
“And you get so much out of it personally, especially as a coach but also as a volunteer. It’s not only the interactions with the riders that are rewarding, but taking care of the horses and meeting fellow volunteers.”
For people with horses they would like to donate, or for anyone interested in volunteering or offering up their horse riding experience as a coach, Ms Dubach encourages people to get involved now.
“We are looking for horses between eight and 15 years old with a solid build, that we can look after from now on to train them before the season starts again next year.
“The same goes for coaches and volunteers. General volunteers don’t need experience, but coaches do need horse riding experience. However, even as a volunteer, you can work towards becoming a coach. There is a wide variety of jobs available for people to do.
“You can volunteer for just half a day or one day a week. We just always need people helping.”
For more information, visit www.rdav.asn.au/centre/doveton.