Riding for the Disabled Association of Singapore to hold open house on Sunday

SINGAPORE - The Riding for the Disabled Association of Singapore (RDA) is holding an open house on Sunday (July 10), from 10 am to 3 pm. It is inviting people to visit its premises, at Jalan Mashhor, with the goal of raising awareness and recruiting volunteers.

The association is the only charitable group that provides therapy through horse-riding- also known as hippotherapy - for people with special needs in Singapore.

The RDA said in a press release on Friday (July 8) that hippotherapy helps with physical disabilities such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and visual impairment. It also helps people with intellectual disabilities such as Down's Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Ms Sneha Ghotgalkar, 27, who has cerebral palsy, has been a rider at the association for five years. Her mother, Mrs Rasika Ghotgalkar, said hippotherapy has helped Sneha with her posture and balance.

"She has been able to avoid surgical intervention to relax her tight spastic muscles. She can now walk with support," said Mrs Ghotgalkar.

In hippotherapy each rider needs two side-walkers to help them to perform activities such as stretching, or throwing a ball into a hoop.A leader will also guide the therapy horse around the arena.

The association provides hippotherapyfor freeto several special needs schools, such as Rainbow Centre, Singapore, Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore and Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore.

About 100 riders attend the sessions every week and, since its hippotherapy programmestarted in 1982 , the RDA has helped about 6,000 people through it.

The association faces a seasonal shortage of volunteers, who are a critical aspect to running the therapy programme.

Mr Choy Weng Leong, the Executive Director, RDA, said that the organisers of the open house hope to raise awareness about hippotherapy and encourage more volunteers to join the association.

He said: "Since it is our 37th anniversary next year, we also hope to expand our sessions so more riders can enjoy this experience."

The open house, which comes after the recent refurbishment of the arena, includes free pony rides, horseshoe decoration, a tour of the stables, a horse photo booth and food and drink stalls.

Carnival coupons can be bought online at http://peatix.com/event/168882

Pony rides can be booked at http://tinyurl.com/rdaponyride2016