Meet The Team

Riding and interaction with horses benefits both adults and children with a wide range of special needs. RDA horses are specially selected for their type and temperament – they must be physically sound and healthy as well as willing, steady and sensitive to the needs of their rider. Interaction with a horse and the effects of its movement on the human body has significant therapeutic benefits. As our four-legged therapists, RDA horses help their riders to develop, increase and improve:


PHYSICAL ABILITIES – muscle tone, balance, coordination, muscle strength, flexibility, fitness, posture, gait, respiration, circulation, metabolism, sensory perception and integration, independence, self-care and mobility.


PSYCHOLOGICAL ABILITIES – concentration, problem-solving and decision making, insight, motivation, self-esteem, confidence and learning/practicing concepts.


SOCIAL ABILITIES – communication and social skills, learning appropriate behaviour and manners, interaction with peers, 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.


The bond that an RDA horse forms with his/her rider is life-changing.

horse poppy.jpg

Sophie Mills Photography


Date of Birth: 1995

Breed: Cross bred

Height: 14.2hh

Arrival at RDA: 2015

Poppy is a sweet mare who is very talented at adjusting to her rider and their ability. She happily accepts all riders and looks after them, ensuring they have an enjoyable ride. She is a member of the Jenny Craig paddock, along with Blondie and PJ, and like PJ loves nothing more than getting a carrot or apple.


Before arriving at RDA, she spent many years in a riding school and pony club. She was a fabulous games pony and loved nothing more than galloping along the beach.

horse pj.jpg

Sophie Mills Photography


Date of Birth: 2007

Breed: Thoroughbred

Height: 15.2hh

Arrival at RDA: 2018

Jet is wise beyond his years, a horse that no one can believe is only 11. His preference when working is to do everything in a slow and methodical manner and for this reason is a top pick for teaching riders to canter. His slow steady rhythm allows riders to maintain their balance whilst learning.


Prior to arriving at RDA, Jet competed to level 4 dressage in Australia, before being shipped to NZ to enjoy his retirement from competition life. On days off Jet prefers to hang out in his paddock, but once out on a ride he enjoys a gentle cruise.

horse katie 1.jpg


Date of Birth: 2009

Breed: Station bred

Height: 14.3hh

Arrival at RDA: 2018

Katie is our typical red head, fiery and opinionated until you put an RDA rider on. Whilst working in the program, she is sensible and kind making sure her rider is safe. She is one of those special horses who is able to adjust to her rider’s ability.


Like Reggie, Katie started her life on a sheep station. When on days off Katie enjoys show jumping with her owner and going for farm adventures. Katie loves going fast and in 2017 was named the Bay of Plenty Pony Club Champ for Washington Bending and came 4th in Show Jumping.



Date of Birth: 2015

Breed: Stationbred.

Height: 15.1 hh

Arrival at RDA: 2020


Zeb is lovingly known as Zebrador by his friends, due to his ability to eat anything put in front of him although he is quiet partial to bananas, plums and persimmons. Zeb is the class clown of the group who loves being part of whatever is going on. He would rather be working than sitting in the paddock and despite his age he is a sensible boy who is proving to be a huge asset to our team.


Prior to entering our programme Zeb enjoyed being brought on slowly and then had 3 months of holidays on the hills of Manawahe whilst he matured and had some down time.