Funding for Head Coach fundamental to Te Aroha Riding for the Disabled

Funding for Head Coach fundamental to Te Aroha Riding for the Disabled

NZCT awarded Te Aroha and District Riding for the Disabled (RDA) $10,000 to keep their current Head Coach. This full-time paid Head Coach is fundamental to the continual growth and running of the organisation.

Katie Steffert is Funding Officer at Te Aroha and District RDA. They provide interaction with horses through therapeutic horse riding and horse care. On horseback, a rider with a disability can overcome fear, gain confidence and achieve success they may not realise elsewhere. Katie says having a Head Coach is essential because of new health and safety guidelines. Structured riding lessons are now being held under supervision of Head Coach Devon Tretheway, assisted by dedicated volunteers and specially trained horses.

Katie says, "Devon runs the day-to-day operational requirements, along with providing the comprehensive therapy programme for each rider. He is a dedicated and hard-working individual and well known within the local community. Devon often goes above and beyond the call of duty to ensure riders have the best programme at their disposal."

Since hiring a full-time Head Coach, Te Aroha and District RDA has increased the number of sessions from two to three per week. This allows them to take on an additional 30 riders and they are now helping approximately 70 riders. NZCT's grant will be used towards the employment-related costs of the Head Coach. "Without the support of NZCT, we wouldn't be able to employ a Head Coach with the skills and experience to provide the superb services we do. Devon's skills enable riders to achieve life-changing goals within a safe environment," says Katie.

According to Katie, one rider who achieved life-changing goals is Amy. "Amy, who has Rhett's syndrome, began riding at the age of five. She was unable to sit up on the horse then. Now, six years on a riding programme, Amy has developed stronger muscle tone and balance. She can ride in a normal riding position with limited support. The benefits of riding can also be seen outside of the RDA centre as she can now walk independently. Although non-verbal, Amy recently communicated via an eye gaze board with her family that she enjoys her weekly riding sessions on her horse Sooty."