Dr Michael McCluskey, a qualified veterinary surgeon, was introduced by Mal O’Toole, who also noted that Dr McCluskey operates a beef cattle farm, has written articles for a prestigious horse journal for many years, is Vice President of Hopkins Landcare and President of the Warrnambool Riding for the Disabled.
Dr McCluskey began by noting that RDA receives no government support, State or Federal, and is very grateful for the generous support given by many local organisations including RCWE (finance and Christmas BBQ) and the South West Community Foundation, which provided uniforms.
RDA conducts 30 sessions per year for Merri School and this year has added St Pius School and Hawkesdale P-12, thanks to generous support from Warrnambool Racing Club. Fortunately, volunteers are not a problem for RDA, currently having enough to cover the number of participants.
RDA provides therapeutic horse riding, and not just round in circles – there are 100 different structured activities which are done on horseback, and which provide physical and mental stimulation. The program is very interactive. 
Volunteers go home from the sessions with a great sense of satisfaction, and couldn’t wait to get back in action after the COVID shut downs.
Gai Waterhouse visited some years ago when in Warrnambool for the May Carnival and stayed much longer than expected. She has become a regular visitor each May.
In response to a question, Dr McCluskey said that RDA is a world-wide activity, and Australia-wide. There are some 40-50 Centres in Victoria, including Portland, Hamilton & Terang locally.
Warrnambool RDA has some challenges ahead, partly because Rundell’s are closing, the High View shed is on the market, and two experienced “coaches” have left.
RDA own four horses, one purchased by SW Community Foundation – a fifth one has been loaned by Rundell’s. One of the horses began life as a wild brumby and has been trained.
Dr McCluskey directed his $30 to Warrnambool Community Hospice.