Riding for the disabled association - Tall timbers By April Shedden

RDAA and RDANSW Mission Statements

Riding for the Disabled Association of Australia (RDAA) is a voluntary, nonprofit organisation which provides opportunities for anyone with a disability to enjoy safe, healthy, stimulating, therapeutic, horse-related activities in Australia (Riding for the Disabled Association Australia, n.d.).

RDANSW is a volunteer organisation providing equine assisted activities for people with disabilities to develop and enhance abilities.

Workplace Role

Client Based Tasks

  • Greeting children and taking them to the dress room to collect riding equipment
  • Side-walking with the children, which involved holding them stable while they were on the horses, doing activities
  • Running activities by explaining the instructions to the children and helping them carry out the tasks
  • Spotting, which involved standing back from the activities and keeping an eye on the group as a whole, to watch for any hazards

Other Tasks

  • Planning and setting up for activities
  • Providing feedback on how the children performed during the session
  • Ensuring all gear was intact and set up correctly
  • Grooming and dressing horses
  • Cleaning up after horses

Therapeutic Recreation and its role within RDANSW

Therapeutic recreation (also known as, diversional therapy) is about enabling people to participate in leisure and recreation activities despite their ability levels, whilst also teaching and developing skills (Diversional Therapy Australia, n.d.). It is also about personalising and modifying activities to each person to ensure they get the most out of it.

At RDANSW, the values of therapeutic recreation are used consistently in the creation of the activities used. The programs are designed to address a range of skills in engaging ways such as:

  • Matching activities (visual and textural)
  • Co-ordination – throwing, catching, passing
  • Balance – horse riding
  • Fine motor skills – holding objects as instructed, holding and moving reins,
  • Sensory – different textured objects
  • Numeracy – dice games – addition, subtraction
  • Communication – songs, horse commands, choice and decisions
  • Focus/concentration – requiring focus from student before moving on with activities
  • Patience – waiting for others
  • Socialisation - engaging and co-operating with others

Experience and Reflection

From my time at RDANSW I was able to gain so much experience and knowledge that I have since been able to use in daily situations. Some key things that I learnt include:

  • The importance of equine therapy and animal therapy in general, in helping children feel calm and comfortable and consequently more open to new experiences and information
  • Value of patience, flexibility and diversity
  • How to be accommodating to each child as they all have their own unique ways of interacting and learning
  • Importance of risk assessment and management
  • ADAPTABILITY and DIVERSITY in communication

Therapeutic recreation is the furthest from a ‘one size fits all’ program and rather, personally embraces each and every person’s unique interests and abilities.


Diversional Therapy Australia. (n.d.). What is Diversional Therapy. Retrieved January 5, 2017, from Diversional Therapy: http://diversionaltherapy.org.au/About-DTA/What-is-DT

Riding for the Disabled Association Australia. (n.d.). Riding for the Disabled Association Australia. Retrieved January 5, 2017, from Riding for the Disabled Association Australia: https://www.rda.org.au/

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