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Siobhan with Dixie (one of the horses she rode in 2013), and the Horsemanship Cup she was awarded in 2013.

Siobhan's Story

Thanks to her weekly therapeutic riding sessions at Timaru Group RDA, Siobhan has experienced significant growth in both her physical and mental growth and development.

Siobhan had been diagnosed with Aspergers, an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication, alongside restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests.

Siobhan’s family were looking for something she could do, as she couldn’t participate in team sports.  As Siobhan was so passionate about animals, with several pets including a dog (Pumpkin), cat (Custard), two chickens (Lacey and Chicksy) and several fish, her mother Lynette thought Riding for the Disabled would be ideal for Siobhan.

Siobhan had her first taste of Riding for Disabled when she lived in Rangiora, and was one of their first riders to join when the North Canterbury Group RDA began operating in 2010.  After riding at this Group for two years, Siobhan and her family moved to Waimate, and were thrilled to discover a local RDA in nearby Timaru. 

For the past two years, Siobhan and her mother have made the weekly one hour round trip to Timaru to attend the Wednesday morning therapeutic riding sessions.

When Siobhan first joined the RDA riding programme, she was nervous and didn't know anything about horses or the routine.  Four years later and Lynette says that she can see how the programme has impacted her daughter’s both physically and mentally.

“Joining RDA has played an important role in Siobhan's development - thanks to the involvement of the Group’s therapist and riding instructors she can now follow their instructions, she has improved muscle tone and co-ordination through the exercise programme, and has increased confidence and self-esteem.”

When Siobhan arrives at the Timaru Group RDA grounds, she greets her horse Kody, before assisting the riding instructors Wendy and Gill with horse care such as preparing the feed and grooming; and after her ride, she also takes the tack off and puts it all away in the tack shed afterwards.

Lynette says that the riding therapy programme has given Siobhan a sense of belonging and achievement.

“She is very proud at what she can do, her confidence and skill have continued to improve and she has even  enjoyed riding bareback and trotting.”


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