RDA Tasmania has three affiliated centres in the state that each run a riding program out of their centre. Places are limited and riders are generally allocated a place in the program for at least an annual basis.
The programs at their heart focus on the wonderful and social experience of working with a horse. Doing so provides many therapeutic benefits for individuals as recognised in significant studies in the past. Such benefits include strengthening core stability, improving balance, improving posture and co-ordination.
We provide this program to people of all ages with a disability or special needs. These individuals are generally referred in many ways including by a friend, caregiver, teacher, support worker or health professional. Of course there are some instances where certain conditions can pose a danger with riding or around horses in such cases riding is not recommended which is why in all cases medical advice must be sought prior to becoming a rider at our centres.
Benefits of Riding
As mentioned above our programs are very much focused on the social experience of working with horses and the physical benefits of riding. However this understanding isn't the only thing that influences how our riders and volunteers benefit from the program.
Horse related activities are an enjoyable form of healthy, outdoor exercise. They are exciting, challenging and motivational. The skills that individuals gain are transferable to many aspects of daily life.
RDA coaches work with participants, parents, teachers and carers to ensure they each have a program that takes into account their abilities, needs and personal goals. Safety standards and policies are in place to ensure minimum risk to those involved, and horses and ponies are specially selected and trained for participation in the RDA program.
Our programs aim to develop, increase and improve skills in the following areas:
Physical abilities: Muscle tone, balance, coordination, muscle strength, flexibility, fitness, posture, gait (ability to walk), respiration, circulation, metabolism, sensory perception and integration, independence: self-care and mobility.
Psychological abilities: Concentration, problem solving and decision making, insight, motivation, self-esteem, confidence, learning/practicing concepts e.g. letters, numbers, colours, distances, shapes etc.
Social abilities: Communication and social skills, learning appropriate behaviour and manners, interaction with peers: individuals and groups, human/animal contact and bonding, building relationships, consideration for others and taking on responsibility.
Recreational/sport/vocational abilities: Equestrian skills and horse management, develop interests, broaden experiences, challenge and success in competition with self and others, stimulation and/or relaxation, integration and community participation, work experience.