Therapeutic Riding 

Rotorua RDA Programs are designed and delivered by a dedicated team of coaches, therapists and volunteers for people with physical, intellectual and emotional challenges, helping to give them strength of body, mind and spirit.
Our programs are designed to complement conventional therapies and special needs education, and are designed to meet rigorous safety standards and practices. 

Our skilled RDA team and other medical and educational professionals work collaboratively to ensure every rider has a unique programme that takes into account their abilities, needs and personal goals. 

Interactions with the horse and the effects of its movement on the human body have significant therapeutic benefits. Please read Our Riders & FAQs below on this page. We think you will be pleasantly surprised how much equine assisted therapy can help a wide variety of people.
Feel free to contact us to enquire about how to become an RDA rider, how we may accommodate your group, and costs.

Program Term Dates 2020

Term One:

Monday 10th February to Thursday 9th April

Term Two

9 May - 7 July 2022

Term Three

25 July - 29 September 2022

Term Four

17 October - TBA


The Answers You Need

What types of "disabilities" respond to equine-assisted therapy?

More than you might think... Here are a few

  • Autistic Spectrum Disorders

  • Cerebral Palsy 

  • Cystic Fibrosis

  • C.V.A. (stroke)

  • Developmental Delay 

  • Downs Syndrome

  • Intellectual Disability, Learning Disability

  • Hearing and Visual Impairments

  • Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy

  • Spina Bifida

  • Spinal Cord Injury (Para/Quadriplegia).

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia

  • And many more... 

How is riding an RDA horse therapeutic for the body?

The gentle movement of the horse at walk assists many physical challenges, helping to develop strength and coordination, while also stimulating gentle stretching and relaxing, including:

  • Greater muscle tone, balance, coordination, muscle strength

  • Better flexibility, fitness, posture, gait (ability to walk)

  • Improved respiration, circulation, metabolism

  • Increased sensory perception and integration

  • More independence: improved mobility and ability to self-care

Is that all they do - walk around on horseback?

No, there are many learning stations and activities set up around the arena that the riders do from horseback. These activities help with physical coordination, cognitive processes and are fun. 

Does RDA riding only help with physical disability?

No, it is a holistic therapy bringing positive change to body, mind and spirit. There is something very special about the connection between rider and horse that lifts a rider's spirit and helps instill confidence. 

There is often a fair bit of hugging, stroking and subtle communicating with their horse that goes on too... No wonder our horses love their job! ​

Do the benefits only last during the riding session?

Positive achievements each week, both physical and psychological add up over time to help develop core strength and self-esteem, and allows riders to experience life beyond the confines of their disabilities.

The anticipation of the next ride with their equine friend gives riders something positive to focus on when away from their horse.Also, riding and equestrian skills are transferable to many aspects of daily life. Often the benefits are felt at home by the rider's family too. 

So.... How does RDA help someone with physical, psychological and social challenges?

  • Psychological abilities: Concentration, problem solving and decision making, insight, motivation, self-esteem, confidence, learning/practicing concepts e.g. letters, numbers, colours, distances, shapes etc.

  • Social abilities: Communication and social skills, learning appropriate behaviour and manners, interaction with peers: individuals and groups, human/animal contact and bonding, building relationships, consideration for others and taking on responsibility.

  • Recreational/sport/vocational abilities: Equestrian skills and horse management, develop interests, broaden experiences, challenge and success in competition with self and others, stimulation and/or relaxation, integration and community participation, work experience. 

  • Physical abilities: Muscle tone, balance, coordination, muscle strength, flexibility, fitness, posture, gait (ability to walk), respiration, circulation, metabolism, sensory perception and integration, independence: self-care and mobility.

These are just some of the reasons we LOVE Rotorua RDA!