Whanganui's Riding for the Disabled (RDA) and Ag Challenge have teamed up to improve facilities at RDA's Purnell St premises.

Students from Ag Challenge's equine and agricultural courses are helping to dismantle old fences, clear paddocks and build a new arena.

"It would have cost us thousands but companies have donated money to do the new arena, we have two great donors for the new posts and railings and Ag Challenge has saved us the cost of manpower," RDA manager Wendy Sellars said.

"The equine girls have been helping with the horses for 16 weeks and they are also learning empathy dealing with disabled riders. There's a great relationship between us.


"The voluntary labour is great."

RDA provided morning teas and lunches for the students, with Fitzies Bakery contributing the morning tea for no cost, Sellars said.

Ag Challenge equine and agriculture tutor Delma Dunham said the equine students had to learn about fencing as a component of their studies so the RDA project was giving them some experience.

"Our students also need to learn how to give back to the community," Dunham said.

"It benefits a lot of people."

Sellars said the project would take some time to complete because the facility was so busy during the school term.

"We're up to our maximum of 66 riders at the moment and we're doing four days a week," Sellars said.

"We have 10 big horses and two little horses. On Fridays we have no horses and no riders here so we'll do a lot of the work then. It will be a long-term project."


The fences were rotten and needed to be replaced and the existing ring was not a full size dressage arena, Sellars said. The sizes of two paddocks would be altered to accommodate a full size arena in one of them.

A tractor is being used to pull out the rotting fences.
A tractor is being used to pull out the rotting fences.

RDA is raising funds to buy the almost 2ha of land it leases from the NZ Transport Agency and Whanganui District Council.

Sellars said about $140,000 of the $750,000 needed had been raised and RDA had paid a deposit of $80,000, thanks to a grant from the Four Regions Trust.

"We've gone unconditional on the land and we have until June 2020 to pay for it," she said.