It took nearly a year to find Bailey, a replacement horse for Richmond Riding for the Disabled, but the big Clydesdale-cross is now getting ready for his first riders.
Last year the group lost Storm, one of its much-loved, bigger and most frequently ridden horses because of colic and they needed to replace him.
In July last year, they applied to the IHC Foundation for help. Chair Paul Baines says although the Foundation doesn’t usually fund horses, there was a need to fill the gap in the stables, with 72 riders relying on the service every week. It made a grant of $8000.
Jenny Stebbings, Richmond RDA Administrator and Secretary, says they were worried about how long it was taking to find a horse, but it was important to get it right. “It’s just finding the horse with exactly the right temperament, who will allow unbalanced riders. They have to be pretty special.”
She says the horse also needed to be calm and not frightened by sudden movements or things coming at them, and it had to be big enough to cater for the group’s older riders, including four groups of teenagers a week from the special education department at Waimea College.
Then along came Bailey through word-of-mouth, a strong five-year-old Clydesdale-station bred cross from Richmond, who had “one lady owner”. He is 15 hands (1.5m) tall and is already demonstrating he has what it takes. Bailey is now being trained for his new role, which involves being comfortable with being led from both sides, accepting side walkers, ramps and blocks for mounting, crutches and walkers and wheelchair transfers.