Volunteers needed to help disabled riders

Published 6:00am 7 March 2024

Volunteers needed to help disabled riders
Words by Ashleigh Howarth

A not-for-profit organisation that provides therapeutic and recreational horse-riding lessons and programs for people living with a disability has put a call out for more volunteers.

Sarah Lupton from Samford Riding for the Disabled (RDA) says the organisation is hoping to recruit at least 20 people who can spare a few hours a week.

“Volunteering at RDA is a great way to help give people who might not have a lot of independence, freedom or mobility the chance to experience something new and fun, while helping them build relationships with our beautiful horses,” Sarah says.

“We work with kids and adults who all have different needs.

“We currently have around 60 participants, and a few more who are on a waitlist.

“The program is very popular, which is why we need more volunteers.”

You don’t need to know anything about horses to help, as all training is provided.

Anyone over the age of 14 can apply, and the team from Samford RDA will help you obtain a Volunteer Blue Card if you don’t already have one.

There are a variety of volunteer roles available including grooming and saddling the horses, helping participants prepare for riding, leading the horses during lessons, side-walking during the lesson, assisting with games and activities, preparing feed for the horses, maintaining the grounds and paddocks, assisting with working bees, and taking part in fundraising initiatives.

Volunteers needed to help disabled riders
Above: Leonie Furner and Sarah Lupton both love volunteering their time with Samford RDA.

Giving back is a rewarding experience

Sarah started volunteering with Samford RDA five years ago and says she loves being there every day.

“I had very little experience with horses beforehand, but Samford RDA taught me everything I needed to know,” Sarah says.

“I started off as a volunteer and then signed up to be a trainee coach. I am almost fully qualified.

“I have gotten so much out of volunteering – It’s very rewarding and I love being here every day.

“I know this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”

To see more photos, click through the gallery below.

About the Samford RDA

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

During that time, they have 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 many more.

Sarah says there are many therapeutic benefits from riding horses, including improving core strength and ability, developing coordination and balance, enhancing speech and communication skills, building confidence and enabling social interaction.

“We have had people who were completely non-verbal say their first words while riding a horse,” Sarah explains.

“We also had others who never liked to leave the house willingly pack their bags and go to school because they knew they would get to go horse riding in the afternoon.

“It’s the little things that make you realise how much of a difference you are making in someone else’s life.”

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.

Community Bank Samford sponsors one horse, whose name is Paddington Bear. The bank pays for Paddington Bear’s food and vet bills.

Get in touch

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


Related Stories

Popular Stories