For the second year running, the Clutha Foundation has been able to help Balclutha Riding for the Disabled as they continue their fantastic work with young disabled riders in our Clutha community.
The local group is one of over 50 such groups around the country, affiliated to the NZ Riding for the Disabled Association. It has existed in effect since 1994, albeit under another name, and is currently led by an enthusiastic, newly-elected committee passionate about their cause and dedicated to helping as many disabled children as possible. They operate out of north Balclutha, on land currently owned by Clutha District Council, but which they are hoping to raise the money to purchase.
Thanks to donations from a range of sources and the commitment of volunteers, Balclutha Riding for the Disabled is able to offer therapeutic riding experiences at only $5 a ride. Last year was a challenging year with the restrictions of Covid lockdowns, but they still managed to work with 6 riders. This year, they are working with 14. The cost of running the facility and of keeping up with equipment provision is a constant challenge, and we were very happy to be able to help purchase comfort bareback riding pads for their riders in our last funding round.
The volunteers have to be trained to work with children with high needs. Last year, the Clutha Foundation was able to contribute to a training programme for the four main therapeutic coaches. They run the riding sessions, supported by other volunteers who have been trained to assist. The riders all have individual volunteer support. Currently, the riders are all school aged children, but the coaches are also developing a programme for adults.
The impact on young riders is powerful and is what motivates this very dedicated group of volunteers. The joy and confidence that working with horses brings to the children is amazing, and other opportunities – such as horse trekking or participating in the Special Olympics – may open up for them in the future.
LET'S DO THIS
If you would like to ensure that we are able to continue to fund community groups like Balclutha Riding for the Disabled well into the future, you can donate to our general community fund. Alternatively, you and your family and friends might want to consider setting up a private endowment that will support this organisation each year, in perpetuity.
Contact us if you would like to explore these options.
"Emma loves turning up on Saturdays, she squeals with excitement knowing she's about to see Flame (her horse) and the team. Her balance and core control have improved so much since we started. The joy this place bring my little girl is absolutely priceless. It's one of very few places that children like mine feel accepted, included and so safe.
Thank for your funding for RDA. Without the kind help of people like you, this wonderful place wouldn't be able to run so smoothly."
"Max really loves going to the Riding For The Disabled sessions. He has gained so much confidence in himself and his ability to become a good rider. He has moved up a class after 1 year and looks forward to the Saturday sessions. He loves animals and is quite clear that Sonic is his favourite horse. It has also helped him to improve his speech and social skills with children of his own age."
"We never thought that working with horses could make such a difference but 5 years on there certainly has been a big change. From not wanting to go near a horse and being really shy Jessica is outgoing and now rides independently with supervision. Her confidence has grown so much. We put this down to the coaches and volunteers at Balclutha RDA. They are so amazingly patient with the children. Jessica has got so much more than just learning to ride a horse. She has learned compassion, confidence, empathy along with learning maths, spelling and much more."