Hamilton Group Riding for the Disabled is a voluntary, not-for-profit charity which provides opportunities for anyone with a disability to enjoy safe, healthy, stimulating, therapeutic horse riding and horse-related activities in the Waikato. The Hamilton Group operates from facilities at the Waikato Equestrian Centre, and is one of 55 Member Groups under the New Zealand Riding for the Disabled Association (NZRDA)
The aim of the programme is to make a difference in the lives of their riders by providing goals which allow them to meet objectives and develop new skills in order to enrich their lives. The Core purpose is to provide interaction with horses to develop increased ability, independence and self-esteem for children and adults with physical, intellectual, emotional and social challenges. The therapy riding programme has three main streams each of which addresses the particular needs of the individual rider.
The Hamilton Group work in conjunction with many other support organisations throughout the year within Hamilton such as Interactionz, Bupa Rehabilitation, McKenzie centre, Community Living Trust and Parentline. They also work with schools such as Hamilton North and its satellite's and take riders from Pukete School, Patricia Avenue School, Horsham Downs, Marion School and Endeavour School.
The programme benefits a wide range of people who are connected to the Hamilton group in the community. The Hamilton Group are continually looking for ways to fundraise as do not receive any government funding. Riders fees are kept to a minimum so as to not exclude anyone due to finances and therefore need to supplement their income. The group achieves additional income by attending the Winter show and the A & P show at Claudelands arena where they give pony and cart rides to show attendees. It is a great opportunity for children to interact with the horses - many of these children have never had the chance to be around horses or ride them before. Additionally, the group hold pony and horse ride mornings at the Hamilton RDA during the school holidays to raise funds to support the Hamilton RDA programme.
The Hamilton Group has annual expenses of approximately $170,000. They receive about $30,000 in riders fees with the rest having to be met by fundraising, donations and sponsorship activities. These figures do not include the value of the volunteer hours which would equate to approximately $97,000.