THERE was cause for celebration when Pearl Batchelor held the first lessons for the Riding for the Disabled Association NSW at her West Pennant Hills property in 1972.
And the plan to celebrate 40 years of the association's Tall Timbers Centre with a reunion dinner is no tall order for the organisation, which relies on volunteers to offer therapeutic riding for people with intellectual and physical disabilities.
President and volunteer coach Karen O'Neill has volunteered with the organisation for 30 years.
"I still enjoy it," she said. "The volunteers bond with our riders and the horses, and we just have a great time.
"And the riders benefit. We see improvements to their social skills, fitness, co-ordination, balance and it's all done in a fun atmosphere."
Volunteers and riders from local schools — including Tallowood school at Kellyville and Warrah School at Dural — ride in the bush and practice colours and numbers during their horseback activities on the 25-acre property at Box Hill.
"People come and go, some people only come once a fortnight, Ms O'Neill said.
"We get people from all walks of life.
"It's social as well for our volunteers, and a feeling that they're doing something very worthwhile . . . when you see the kids and adults progress.
"You can just see them blossoming. They're very proud of their horses."
A fete is on October 21 at Tall Timbers, 125 Old Pitt Town Road, Box Hill, 10am-3pm. Activities will include a barbecue, face painting, second-hand books and saddlery, market stalls, dog flyball demonstrations, games and more.
■ The reunion dinner is on Saturday, October 20, at Annangrove Bar and Dining, Regal Gardens, 6.30pm-10.30pm. Tickets are $45. Bookings: 9679 1246, or firstname.lastname@example.org.