Once a week 7 AkzoNobel volunteers from Marine & Protective Coatings in Yeronga, Australia, spend (on a roster basis) their Saturday at the McIntyre Centre Pony Riding for Disabled Association. They help tacking up the horses, grooming, cleaning the stables and all sorts of odd jobs. When they learned about the shortage of ponies that caused unacceptable waiting times for the 150 disabled to ride, they asked for support from the Community Program to purchase 5 new ponies and a color Electronic Interactive Whiteboard to assist with learning. The request was granted and the search for adequate ponies started.
The McIntyre Centre aims to provide a high quality service to all people who access the centre. By providing a safe environment, reliable horses, an atmosphere that cultivates learning and self-improvement, they create a fun and happy base for all their (disabled) riders.
The coaches are highly dedicated with a wide range of experience and skills.
Horse riding is an all-round therapeutic activity; it benefits users in almost all facets of their life. Each rider, when entering the McIntyre program, has personal goals set out for them. These goals may include physical, social or psychological goals to name a few. All users take actively part in their ride – this is not a pony ride, this is a riding lesson. Some of the motor skills gained through horse-riding are Balance, Strength Co-ordination, Spatial Awareness and Improved social skills.
The AkzoNobel volunteers not only assist in the riding sessions and the maintenance of the stables, but are also involved in repair and painting jobs, like the fenced area. And, after a flood had caused a lot of damage to the property, a special working-bee was organized and our colleagues in Yeronga provided good assistance cleaning up the grounds. Assisting in the riding sessions gives them great pleasure as one of the volunteers confirmed: ‘Riders enter the program independently and are grouped according to skill on horseback. After a few months you really start to connect and see improvement in posture with some of the children, most of all, they really enjoy the experience.’
The purchase of the new horses to reduce the waiting list for their riders was not easy. 12 horses have been on trial but were deemed unsuitable. After a few months finally the right, specially trained, horses were found and with the funds from the Community Program even 6 could be purchased as well as the necessary hay for the winter. With these new horses, the riding sessions are now open to all disabled riders, improving their quality of life.