MAUREEN Turner cannot remember learning to ride a horse.
She has a photo of herself at just two sitting on a pony.
At seven her relationship with horses became one of necessity when she rode the 30km round trip to school each day.
But for the past 39 years Maureen has used her affinity with horses and extensive knowledge to help others lead better lives.
Recently her voluntary work with the Riding for the disabled (RDA) was recognised when Maureen was awarded the Pearl Batchelor Volunteer of the Year Award.
Maureen said she couldn't have been paid a higher honour.
"Pearl Batchelor was a personal friend of mine. She and I worked hard together," said Maureen of the woman who was instrumental in founding RDA NSW.
"She is a person I have known for the better part of my adult life."
Maureen was nominated by the centre president Jacqui Nuttall who described Maureen as a "tireless wonder." Jacqui said that without Maureen the Manning Great Lakes RDA would not be what it is.
Maureen's role at the RDA is as a coach and an assessor. She said she goes around the country where needed keeping up safety standards. She points out clearly that the RDA is not a pony riding school, "what we do is therapeutic riding."
Using the horse as a tool, the RDA sets programs based around the individual needs of the disabled riders.
There are five coaches, two trainees and an assistant coach at the Manning Great Lakes RDA. Volunteers are in short supply and Maureen said they are always looking for new people to assist.
"I am very grateful, I get a lot of support," said Maureen of the parents that come in to help. Maureen's eldest daughter, Margaret is also a coach at the RDA and like her mum juggles a busy life to help.
For Maureen the hours can be long and involve a great deal of travel.
Our interview takes place just as Maureen arrives back in Wingham after being at the RDA NSW State Dressage Championships in Sydney. Transporting seven riders and five horses to the International Equestrian Centre required much effort but Maureen said the results were worth it.
All seven riders received awards with Marlee rider Mikaela Worth becoming State grade one reserve champion.
"That's not easy to do when you have cerebral palsy," said Maureen proudly of 21-year-old Mikaela.
Maureen received her award at a special dinner after the AGM. She said she is so committed to the RDA that she would need to be carried out "feet first in a box."