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From left: New assistant Ginger Williams, Margaret Hansen, Warfield, Maxine Tooley, Pauline Giles, Kylie Warfield take a break before the next ride

Margaret, Volunteer at Totara Park Group RDA

Every Riding for the Disabled Group has them - the ‘salt of the earth’ people who just get on with it because they love what they do, often under the radar.  Margaret Hansen from Totara Park Group RDA is one of these valuable people.

Margaret heads the Pony Committee at Totara Park Group RDA, leading a team of key people that are dedicated to making the Riding Sessions happen.

Margaret’s commitment to RDA as a Volunteer goes back over 15 years – it started when a friend asked her to volunteer “for an hour a week” at the local RDA Group, knowing that she had a lifelong passion for Horses and working with people.  This role grew and grew over the following years, until one day back in 1999 one of the RDA stalwarts at her Group said “You could be on the committee”.

As the head of Totara Park’s Pony Committee, Margaret is always on the lookout for suitable Horses, and has a keen eye for whether a Horse is suitable (ie laid back and of good temperament) for riding at RDA.

She is often regarded as the ‘queen of the telephone networking’ in horsey circles, as she sounds out local farriers, vets, Pony Club instructors and previous owners of a possible new Horse. Often Margaret has to move fast, as really suitable Horses are often snapped up by other people.

Margaret says that you can never tell whether a Horse is going to work out great or “end in tears”.  Some might last a year or two, while others seem to go on forever like Klyde.  Some Horses, like Amigo, are found on Trademe, and although they may appear a strange fit for RDA at first glance, they are worth their weight in gold when it comes to patiently interacting with children with disabilities.

Margaret’s other responsibilities include matching Horses to prospective leasers, which helps cover the feed and Horse care costs. She and her team also work to ensure a good client-horse match so that RDA riders gain the maximum benefit from the Riding Sessions.

When the horses are not actively involved in a Riding Session, they need to be checked out regularly, fed out, exercised, have the odd dental or vet appointment made and their feet seen to.  Tack needs to be cleaned, covers changed and messes to be cleaned up - and Margaret and her team can always be relied on keep things running smoothly.

Through all the ups and downs of her role, such as having the hay barn demolished by heavy winds and horse health issues, Margaret says she has always remained positive and dedicated to Totara Park Group RDA and its Riders.

“It’s such a great thing seeing the joy on the kids’ faces when something they thought impossible has been achieved.

We see all sorts of improvements we never believed possible too - seeing the horses going well, being out in the country with hills all around, the enjoyment the volunteers get working with the Riders and meeting lots of other people.  It all makes being with RDA a bit of a no-brainer really, I just love it.”

Thanks to Caryl Dimery for this story.


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