Riding for the Disableds Kerry Johnston feeds Sunny at the RDAs Mitchell Centre, North Teven. The outbreak of horse flu has m
Riding for the Disableds Kerry Johnston feeds Sunny at the RDAs Mitchell Centre, North Teven. The outbreak of horse flu has m

Horse flu grounds disabled riders

By Graham Broadhead

LOCAL children with disabilities are being affected by restrictions for horses due to equine influenza.

The Ballina and District Branch of the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) has been closed since August 26 after the initial outbreak of the horse flu.

That means the 60 riders with disabilities have not been able to ride in the weekly sessions at the Mitchell Centre, North Teven, for a month.

But the 13 horses still need to eat, and Ballina RDA is spending about $300 per week on feed, with no income.

Secretary of Ballina RDA, Kerry Johnston, said the decision to shut all RDA centres in NSW was made by the RDANSW board of directors of the non-profit organisation following advice from the NSW Department of Primary Industries.

While a restricted horse racing event will take place at Ballina racecourse tomorrow without spectators there is no indication of when the RDA centres will open. Mrs Johnston is hopeful that RDA will reopen by late October.

The majority of Ballina RDA's horses are old and more susceptible to flu.

Mrs Johnston said she felt most saddened by the fact that the preschool children receiving early intervention were missing out on their weekly horse rides.

"The communication benefits have become extinct," she said. "It's sad that that's had to stop at the moment. It's an activity that these children are really gaining from." She said Ballina RDA was surviving financially ... for now.



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