Riding for the Disabled Association – South West

I want to congratulate the Riding for the Disabled Association of Western Australia South West Centre.

They are based in Gelorup, and recently they celebrated their 40th birthday. From very humble beginnings in 1978, they have now grown to servicing over 2,000 clients in the region.

The work of founding members Maud Stanley, Olga Green and Jean Lishman has been vital in ensuring that countless people with disabilities have experienced the organisation’s amazing services. All three women were instrumental in setting up the association and have volunteered thousands of hours over its 40 years, as you can imagine. Deservedly, they’ve all received life membership. During Maud Stanley’s long association with the organisation, she became a coach for both therapeutic riding and hippotherapy. Nowadays, Maud still coaches the hippotherapy group and is on the WA hippo committee. Olga was a coach until retiring just a few years ago. Jean also retired recently. She started in the therapeutic riding sessions before moving to hippotherapy, and she became involved in the WA hippo central committee.

I acknowledge the tireless work of the centre’s other life members: Robert Warwick, Stanley Buck, Lorraine Monahan, Patricia Thompson, Dorothy Orloff, Geoff Brown, Terry Guiness and Ken Wood. I thank all the local sponsors and donors, who have made sure that Riding for the Disabled has been able to continue its work. I have seen firsthand as a patron in Harvey the freedom that someone with severe disability has on the back of a horse. It’s amazing how the horses adjust to the movements and the needs of the individual on their backs. It’s just extraordinary.

Medical professionals recognise there are significant therapeutic benefits for people across the board from connecting with horses. The three-dimensional movement of horses transferred through the rider’s body relaxes people and strengthens core stability, reducing spasms and improving balance, posture and coordination. The joy on the faces of people who are on the backs of those horses has to be seen to be believed. For some of them, it is their first independent movement ever.

Across the state, Riding for the Disabled provide more than horseriding. Vaulting, carriage driving, dressage and, as you heard before, hippotherapy are also services they provide. For many people with a disability, the organisation gives them the opportunity to get out of the house and participate in an activity that they otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to.

I commend the great work that Riding for the Disabled do in Gelorup and right across Australia, particularly that of the hardworking volunteers in the South West, in my electorate.