It has been an amazing experience for six fortunate students from Riverstone Public School, some of whom have never been horse-back riding before and can barely wait until Friday afternoon each week. While the rest of our students back at school are engaged in Peer Support activities, Alasdair, Mankaran, Jayden, Tobi, Domenik and Christina are practising their riding techniques at the RDA Centre in Box Hill.

Riding for the Disabled Association, ‘Tall Timbers’ Box Hill, is run by a group of dedicated volunteers who show endless patience and kindness towards the children and their horses. Their expertise in teaching the skills involved in riding is highly regarded by both parents and teachers alike.

We attended an orientation day at the beginning of last semester and since then, haven’t looked back. The same smiling faces greet us every week as we walk slowly towards the arena, filled with excitement and anticipation. It is pleasing to see the efforts made to ensure a safe and aesthetically pleasing environment for our children. The students are always welcomed warmly by the volunteers before getting ready with riding boots and helmets. They are taught safe mounting and dismounting procedures, balance, posture, how to follow verbal instructions, steering and many other riding skills through play and fun games.

Each rider has a leader who follows instructions from a coach. When the weather is especially warm the riders are taken on a course across the many paddocks and past the dam at the centre. They enjoy chatting informally with their leaders as they look out for local wildlife. The lessons always end with a ‘Rider of the Week’, selected by the coach. The student then gets to choose a trophy and a certificate for outstanding riding skills that week.

Friday is the best day of the week for these six students who are gaining first-hand experience and insight into a totally different world; a world where they will no doubt develop a mutually respectful partnership with these ‘gentle giants’. Not long to wait… Friday is just around the corner!

By Indira Reddy, Teacher