Thursday, August 24, 2023


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

Not Just Horses

Situated among the trees in North Mackay, Mackay Riding for the Disabled (RDA) provides the unique experience of riding a horse to those living with a disability but the not-for-profit organisation is in desperate need of volunteers to continue the service.

The dedicated team of volunteers provide both recreational and therapeutic horse riding programs for children and adults with disabilities, facilitating fortnightly lessons to special schools, community groups and other participants.

Coach of 30 years Jody Burrows said that one rider may require up to four people to support them on that one horse.

“If we don’t have enough volunteers, the participants don’t get as long a ride as they normally would,” she said.

“It breaks my heart when we see horses tied up there with saddles on, people sitting there who would love to have a ride and not enough people to help.”

Ms Burrow’s role is an all-encompassing one, ranging from preparing the horses, managing volunteers, assisting riders and participants and making sure everyone has a wonderful day.

With a varying list of tasks required, many volunteers fill many roles depending on the needs of the animals, the grounds and the participants.

“As far as volunteering goes, it’s not just horses,” said Ms Burrow.

“We have a wide range of roles including gardening, bookwork, and kitchen duties.

“If you’re not a horse person, it doesn’t matter, because we train you.”

Mary Steel has volunteered in a variety of roles including maintenance, fundraising, and currently manages the horses, saying there are many benefits to the variety involved in RDA.

“You can get fit and healthy, you're outdoors, you can make friends, you learn a lot,” she said.

“Coming here as a volunteer, you learn about disabilities so you can then get a job in that field.

“What makes people feel good in themselves is doing something for somebody else without expecting anything in return, but you still get lots of thank yous, hugs and high fives.”

To find out more about volunteering with Mackay RDA, email or call 07 4944 0066.

“Come down, have a look and see what you think,” said Ms Burrow.

“We’ve got the facilities, we’ve got the gear, we just need the people.”

Volunteers fill a number of roles and complete a variety of tasks at Mackay Riding for Disabled

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