Located at Samford Showgrounds, the centre draws many of its volunteers from Samford Valley and surrounding rural-residential areas. For many of the volunteers who live on acreage, managing horses and maintaining associated facilities and paddocks are all too familiar responsibilities.
The impressive centre has been developed over the past 14 years with strong local community support. With its covered riding arena and scenic rural backdrop, it is nationally recognised as an ‘RDA Centre of Excellence’.
As well as the Jenny O’Malley Arena and adjoining covered saddling and horse yard enclosure, the centre is well set up for horse-related activities and professional management. It has an office, dedicated tack and feed sheds, a round yard, water tanks and other facilities to support the RDA program and the 11-strong herd of horses. The arena is also regularly hired to host local equestrian events and clinics.
RDA (Riding for the Disabled Association) provides support services to both adults and children with a wide range of physical and intellectual disabilities. The health benefits of horse riding are well documented, with RDA sessions designed to help build a person’s muscle and core body strength, improve their balance and coordination, and encourage speech and social interaction. While some riders require physical support from volunteers, others progress from being led to riding independently under instruction.
The centre totally depends on volunteer support. It operates every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday outside of school holidays, together with Tuesday evening sessions. Participants come from across Brisbane and neighbouring areas, with the demand for RDA services so strong that wait lists exist for all sessions.
Volunteers contribute a wealth of experience in all facets of the centre’s management. A background in horses is not required, however all volunteers are trained in RDA-safe procedures before working with horses or participants.
Volunteer activities are varied and include caring for the horses, grounds maintenance, fund-raising, administration, gardening, and assisting riders in the arena.
Volunteers have total flexibility in the hours and days they give to Samford RDA. The centre offers them social connections, healthy outdoor exercise and activity, plus a chance to give back to the community in a meaningful way.
Samford RDA is fortunate to receive financial support from all levels of government through grants and loan programs. Fund raising events throughout the year are always strongly supported by local residents.
The centre also relies on horse and centre sponsorships, with funds directed to the feed and care of the herd and improvements to the centre. Sponsorships come from local businesses and community groups, as well as elected representatives and individuals.
With the RDA program winding down for 2021, a series of inductions for prospective volunteers will be held in the new year. Inductions take about two hours and are a comprehensive introduction to the work of RDA and the safety systems in place, including COVID-safe procedures.
For volunteering enquiries, contact Sharon on firstname.lastname@example.org.