Grand indoor facility will give RDA a boost

By Michele McPherson

The new $800,000 indoor arena at Tauranga Riding for the Disabled will be finished next month, giving disabled riders the chance to benefit from equine therapy in all weather.

A first for Tauranga, the arena will allow RDA to extend its services, while making the valued community facility easier for riders, staff and volunteers to run and use.

By December, riders will be using the 20m x 63m clear-span arena with a sand and rubber chip floor _ the result of years of hard work and fundraising.

Chief executive Kat MacMillan said the arena would be officially opened in February, with bookings already being taken for other community groups keen to use it outside RDA hours.

The new arena includes disabled toilets and showers and a laundry, none of which were previously available at RDA.

Mrs MacMillan said wheelchairs did not fit through the door of the main toilet block next to the old arena and staff and volunteers used to take towels and cushioning used by riders home to wash.

``It was run on a shoestring.''

RDA is raising funds for an industrial washing machine for the laundry and is looking for sponsorship or donations of kitchen appliances, including a microwave and dishwasher, for the arena kitchen area.

Staff and volunteers had been thrilled to see the arena taking shape: ``To see this coming together is really inspiring for them.'' Horses will now be kept in individual stables at the back of the arena, leaving the indoors clear for riding.

``We're proud of the horses, they have just carried on working around the construction without batting an eyelid,'' she said.

A tack room will be built in the middle of the stables, offering coaches and volunteers easier access to gear, while another room with wheelchair access is for riders to put on helmets and prepare to mount up.

The previous indoor arena, torn down to make way for construction, was only 20m x 40m, with horses tied up along either side indoors.

Mrs MacMillan said Western Bay disabled riders and their families were eagerly awaiting the arena's completion.

``The parents are already really excited just to see this building happen, knowing that their child won't be disappointed every time it rains.''-->

- Bay of Plenty Times

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