Susan and her love for horse riding

16 Aug 2023

Susan has been a resident at the Deniliquin group home for over 15 years. Susan has high complex needs and receives support from the staff at Deniliquin for all aspects of her daily life, including keeping in touch with family and friends, accessing community services, attending art therapy, horse riding and enjoying a cup of coffee at her favourite café.

When Riding for the Disabled (RDA) opened in Deniliquin in 2015, Susan was one of their first riders. While Susan had never ridden a horse before, she enjoyed the activity so much after her first ride with Shea (RDA horse) she returned for lessons every second Friday.

However, for the last two years, the RDA has been under limited operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the damage caused to the fields by floods. Therefore, Susan couldn’t continue with her hobby until the RDA reopened.

Recently, Susan got to attend her first lesson with Shea after almost 2 years. Kayla, Susan’s service coordinator went with her to attend her first lesson and shared,

“The weather didn’t look great, but RDA was still on. The sun began to shine around 9am. Susan was loaded into the wheelchair van and headed to the pony club. The road was wet and bumpy. On arrival at RDA Susan was greeted by everyone, and Matt got her helmet ready. Once Susan had her helmet ready and Shea was ready, it was time for Susan to get on. She went for a big, long walk around the paddock, taking in moments. Susan enjoys just looking out into the bush from the seat of the horse and looking down on everyone!”

Although Susan hadn’t been on her horse in 2-years, she looked confident and happy to be back in the saddle.

“Susan doesn’t like the cold, but once the sun was shining, and she was on the horse, she had her big smile on,” adds Kayla.

Horse riding has enabled Susan to improve her core strength. When Susan first started, she could remain upright on the horse for five minutes, but after years of riding Susan has gained the core strength to ride for 30 minutes at a time.

There was more than one cause for celebration on the day. Susan and the volunteers at RDA celebrated Horse’s birthday early by wearing fun party hats during the ride.

Every year, the 1st of August is the date dedicated to celebrating birthdays of all horses in the Southern Hemisphere, regardless of the date they were born. The universal horse’s birthday was introduced because of the historical lack of records of actual foaling dates in the equestrian industry.

A little bit about RDA

RDA supports people with disability to ride horses confidently with the help of volunteers out on the track. Volunteers walk alongside the horse and the attendee in case they may need support with their stability. The horses at RDA also play a part in making horse riding accessible. The horses at RDA need to have the right temperament and undergo regular training to be ridden by people with disability.

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