Riding for the Disabled horses return after Timaru flood video

JOHN BISSET/STUFF

Riding for the Disabled opened again this week after flooding damaged a bridge and flooded the property eight weeks ago.

Children are thrilled after nine horses stranded after South Canterbury's major flood event in July were returned to Timaru's Riding for the Disabled group. 

The horses were left high and dry at Timaru Boys' High School when a bridge over Saltwater Creek broke, coach Wendy Marr said. 

It was "absolutely" a blow for the children.

Riding for Disabled has opened for the first time in nearly two months after flooding destroyed a bridge. Pictured is ...
JOHN BISSET/STUFF

Riding for Disabled has opened for the first time in nearly two months after flooding destroyed a bridge. Pictured is Christian Cullen, 8, with Chuckles.

"This is a once-a-week highlight for them. For a lot of them it's not that easy to understand why they couldn't come." 

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During every school holidays the horses went to the school - but this time they stayed two weeks longer than expected. 

Last Friday the nine horses were returned to Riding for the Disabled, with the group taking them back via a walkway. 

Lessons were able to start again on Tuesday, with about 30 riders attending, including both children and young adults. 

"We've seen some excited kids," Marr said. 

The horses were given the full use of the school's rugby field while they were there. 

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"The high school has been really, really good." 

"We walked them down so they were as happy as Larry." 

The bridge was the property of the Timaru District Council, and some work was being done on it so it could hold a load of up to 600kg, one person and one horse. 

During the summer it would be repaired properly. 

One of the horses was injured while she was at the high school, puncturing her eye, and the association thought a pine needle might have caused the injury. 

However, fortunately she had not lost her sight, which was something the association was concerned about. 

The association had a waiting list - with it being important to match the rider to the right horse, Marr said. 

The people who went to Riding for the Disabled, some of whom were on the autistic spectrum, did bond with the horses. 

For instance one boy told the coaches that "this horse knows that this man is sad", Marr said. 

Riding for the Disabled worked with schools to help disabled students, and doctors could also refer people to the association.

People could also get in touch and ask to come. 

Timaru Group Riding for the Disabled is one of the 55 New Zealand groups operating.

 - The Timaru Herald

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