About Us

Making a Positive Difference

At NZRDA, it’s our goal to make a positive difference in local communities across New Zealand. We offer specialised therapeutic horse riding through a range of tailored programmes for people living with physical, intellectual, emotional and social challenges.

Our History

The Hawke’s Bay is where it all began, with the very first RDA in New Zealand being a sub-group at the Pony Club in Waipukurau.




Riding for the Disabled (RDA) was formally introduced to New Zealand in 1962 by the President of the New Zealand Pony Club Association, Tom Atchison (1909-1999).



After retiring as President (and using information he brought back from Great Britain), Tom spent 8 years travelling around New Zealand and encouraging the formation of local RDA groups.

New Zealand Riding for the Disabled Association (NZRDA) was formally established in 1972.



Today, RDA in New Zealand is made up of over 50 groups affiliated to NZRDA. There are RDA groups located in every region throughout the country, from Kaitaia in the north and all the way down to Invercargill in the south.

All RDA groups are incorporated societies and independently financed and managed. The NZRDA is the umbrella organisation providing standards, training, certification and support.

Our RDA groups are primarily run by volunteers, but some groups employ paid staff. Positions vary according to the needs and resources, but generally groups will have people on management committees and others working directly with riders, for example, coaches, therapists, leaders and sidewalkers.


Donna Kennedy

Chief Executive

Shireen Maindonald

Manager – Fundraising and Campaigns

Rachelle Perkins

Manager – Business Services

Pip Prebble

Manager – Programmes

Jill Paterson

Operations Coordinator

Louise Tunley

Operations Coordinator

Sue Allen

Operations Administrator

Natalie Vermaak

Administration Coordinator

Jasmine Dean


NZRDA Board Members

Peter Johnston

Chair, Co-opted Member

Jane Neale

RDA Member

Elisha Olds

RDA Member

Jill Reti

RDA Member

Sally Wenley

Co-opted Member

Leanne Brockelbank

Co-opted Member