HORSE riding is usually a fun experience but for the children who attend the Hervey Bay Riding for the Disabled - it's life changing.
The not-for-profit club, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary on Sunday, provides disabled children with a therapeutic and developmental horse riding program that president and volunteer Spencer Clarke describes as invaluable.
"We get together every Saturday morning and basically provide the children with the opportunity to get on a horse and have a proper lesson," Mr Clarke said.
"When I say hop on a horse, I'm not just referring to the walking around a paddock because the effects that they can have from the association with animals can be very therapeutic, both physically and mentally.
"Some children we support that have trouble relating to humans can enhance their social skills with the animals."
Mr Clarke has been a volunteer at the club for the past year alongside his wife, Victoria, who instructs up to 10 riders every Saturday morning at the Dundowran grounds.
He said the joy of watching the kids' faces light up and seeing them improve week-by-week, was a terrific part of his volunteer role.
"Definitely the most rewarding thing is seeing them not only having fun, but more so the improvement that we see.
"I love watching the improvement, seeing the kids having a good time and the sense of helping the community.
"That's really what our job is.
"We love helping our individuals and that's why we are there every Saturday."
The riders, aged from six to 20, also take great delight in helping to look after the association's 10 horses, including long-standing senior citizen, Patch the shetland welsh pony who turns 36 this year, and Rusty, the chestnut gelding who is the resident retiree.
The club will host a 20th Anniversary Showcase and family fun day to celebrate their achievement.
Family fun day
- When: Sunday, April 13, 8am-3pm
- Where: Dundowran Equestrian Park, Lower Mountain Rd, Dundowran
- What: Jumping castle, Fantasea face painting, riding demonstrations, food by Wild Lotus restaurant, plant and horse gear stalls, car and bike displays, music by Frank Benn and more
- Cost: Gold coin donation