Leonie's rewarding role helping disabled riders

Published 5:00am 15 June 2024

Leonie's rewarding role helping disabled riders
Words by Ashleigh Howarth

As a volunteer at Samford’s Riding for the Disabled (RDA), Leonie Furner loves making a positive difference in people’s lives every day.

For the past year Leonie has been helping the not-for-profit organisation, which provides therapeutic and recreational horse-riding lessons and programs for people living with a disability.

The program has been running in Samford since 2007 and has helped countless people with various disabilities including intellectual, specific learning disorders, injuries from accidents, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, visual and hearing impairments, autism and more.

“I was looking for a way to give back to the community after I retired, and since I had a background in working with special needs children as a teacher aid, I thought this would be a great fit,” Leonie says.

“One of my friends who worked at the same school as me was also interested, and now we volunteer a couple of days a week.

“Being able to interact and socialise with different people, and seeing how much they get out of the program, is very rewarding. 

"I go home every night feeling very fulfilled.”

Leonie says she knew nothing about horses before she joined the organisation but didn’t let that stop her.

“The last time I rode a horse I would have been 17, but the team taught me everything I needed to know,” Leonie says.

“I can now confidently go and get the horses, groom them and prepare their food.”

To ensure the program grows and thrives in Moreton Bay, the organisation is looking for more volunteers.

Anyone over the age of 14 can volunteer. 

Some of the roles include grooming and saddling the horses, helping participants prepare for riding lessons, leading the horses during lessons, assisting with games and activities, preparing feed for the horses, and maintaining the grounds and paddocks.

Leonie's rewarding role helping disabled riders

About the Samford RDA

The volunteer-led program has been operating in Samford since 2007.

Lessons are conducted five days a week on Monday mornings, Tuesday afternoons, and all-day Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

The organisation has 12 horses, with nine currently in the program and three on trial.

For more information or to sign up as a volunteer, phone 0458 246 883, email [email protected] or visit the website.

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