Te Awamutu Riding for the Disabled (RDA) was left saddened and shocked to find that their container storage unit was broken into and thousands of dollars' worth of equipment stolen over the weekend.

Te Awamutu RDA coach and manager Rosalie Rea and the organisations health and safety officer Bruce Cochrane found the container door wide open on Sunday morning.

They believe those responsible used a grinder or bolt cutters to break a latch and get in.
At least four new saddles and four new bridles were stolen leaving four out of the six horses the organisation has without gear.

The equipment is valued at about $3000.

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Around $40 was also taken from the organisations fundraising jar.

Rosalie started with the organisation two years ago and said that it had been a long time since they had new equipment and a lot of effort was put in to get the items that have now been stolen from them.

"They knew what they were aiming for. Everything they took was brand new. It's just horrible," said Rosalie.

"I'm not going to let it beat us. We're better than that and we'll make it work – it's a matter of having too."

The organisation, that operates solely on fundraisers, grants and donations, has been running for 20 years and is based at the Kihikihi Domain Equestrian Park.

It currently has approximately 30 clients and the programme starts up for the year next month.

Rosalie and volunteers however are back into it this week having to get the horses ready, which has been made harder due to the theft.

"I have to start working the horses and getting them back into exercise so they're ready for our clients and this (the theft) has just thrown a spanner in the works," said Rosalie.
"I now have to work back through all our old stuff to see if there is anything that will fit them (the horses)."

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A number of people have rallied around the Te Awamutu RDA to donate equipment and help the organisation get back on its feet.

"People have been so generous. My phone has been red hot with people offering gear," said Rosalie.

She said one local farmer has even offered to replace all the gear.

Waikato Rodeo Association is having its 60th Anniversary Rodeo on Saturday, February 15 and $1 from the $20 entry price will go towards Te Awamutu RDA. The event is at the Kihikihi Domain and starts at 8.30am.

Te Awamutu RDA also has a horse trek fundraiser event coming up and is selling hay for between $10 to $12.

The horse trek is on Saturday, March 28 through Korakonui's hills and costs $50. Participants are required to bring their own horse. Lunch will be provided.

Rosalie and her team of volunteers are currently figuring out how to better secure their gear.

"We need to save up and work out how to get a new shed put in, that's what we've been working towards for the past year already," said Rosalie.

If you'd like to donate to the Te Awamutu RDA or find out more about the horse trek fundraiser call Rosalie on 021 1539 395.