August is Riding for the Disabled (RDA) awareness month and the Te Awamutu branch is putting out the call for volunteers.
Te Awamutu RDA has provided a horse riding service to local people with developmental and physical disabilities for more than 37 years.
The group started in Tokanui in 1981 and moved to the Te Awamutu Racecourse in 1995. Three years later it moved to the Kihikihi Equestrian Park where the group remains today.
Te Awamutu RDA currently caters for 30 clients — adults and children — and there is a waiting list.
Head coach Rosalie Rea says the organisation aims to develop riders' ability, independence and self-esteem through interactions with horses.
"We do this by playing games and doing tasks — mainly on horseback — that require coordination and communication skills."
The Te Awamutu branch is one of 55 RDA groups in New Zealand. The national organisation is not government funded and is an incorporated society and registered charity.
Rosalie says the service has dedicated volunteers, and the group needs more.
"We welcome you to come out to Kihikihi Equestrian Park and visit us to see what happens on our rider days — a chance to meet other volunteers and our six lovely horses."
Knowledge of horses or working with the disabled is not a requirement.
"Volunteers are given training and the opportunity to try different tasks to see where they best fit into the team."
Rosalie says volunteering is hugely rewarding.
"Volunteers make new friends and get enjoyment from assisting our riders. The biggest reward is seeing the delight riders get when they achieve their goals on horseback."
Volunteers would be required to pass a police background check. The group's riding days are Tuesday and Thursday 9.30am to midday.
For more information contact head coach Rosalie Rea on 021 1539395 or 07 871 4705.