Barbara Carter knew she was on to something when she witnessed the reaction of a young child arriving at Riding for Disabled one day.
"Susie slid out of the car, did three pirouettes and headed straight for the pony. That clinched the deal," she told a crowd on Tuesday.
"Susie's grandfather gave $100 to buy some equipment and we were on our way."
The child was Susie Kennedy, daughter of Toni and Dan Kennedy and the year was 1980. She suffered Lennox Gastaut Syndrome, a rare and complex form of epilepsy, and was non-verbal. It was only the second time the Crescent School student had sat on a pony.
It was just the start of an enduring relationship with the school. On Tuesday, some 50 people helped celebrate RDA Goulburn's 40th anniversary at its Rosemount Road base.
In 1980, Mrs Carter and good friend Sue Morrison initiated a public meeting and soon a willing band of helpers, including accomplished horseman Henry Boileau came on board to kick-start the not-for-profit organisation.
A busload of Crescent School students would arrive at veterinarian Nick Scott's Crookwell Road property where it all started. With the help of volunteers the children would circle the arena on horses, while music played in the background.
"Sue and I are extremely grateful to you all for continuing our dream," Mrs Carter said.
"...With persistence and love you've taken it to the next level and what a happy group of riders you will have."
Like so many financial helpers, the pair made a donation to keep activities going.
RDA secretary and coach, Jo Grove paid tribute to scores of people who had helped grow the not-for-profit organisation over the years.
She said this was no easy task, given the need to find suitable horses, sponsorship for equipment and feed, volunteers and paddocks to keep the horses. Then, support plans were formulated for each student taking their needs and goals into account.
Mrs Grove told the crowd that the activity helped children in many ways.
"To see it in action is an amazing thing," she said.
Liz Standen, representing the Crescent School, agreed.
She said the students developed core strength, improved gross motor skills, which fed into learning, self esteem, coordination and balance and better communication, as evidenced by youngster, Evan, who once held a five-minute discussion with Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
RDA shifted to Goulburn TAFE and then in 2001, when it was seeking a new home, Kath Cole threw open her Rosemount Road property.
"I was involved in Goulburn Dessage Club...and having RDA move in made sense. It was good to see it used in that way," she said.
Mrs Cole has also assisted the organisation financially. Mrs Grove presented her with a 20-year service award for her work.
Trophies for 20-year service were also presented to stalwarts and accomplished horsewomen, Pat McCormack and Aileen Rigby.
Other volunteers who received recognition were Monika Augustin (17 years), Robyne Stockton (17 years) and Ros Slater. RDA recognised the contribution of Goulburn Campdraft president Campbell Boileau and David Matthews, who not only assisted the present operation put have been instrumental in finding a new site.
Mrs Grove hoped RDA could be operating at the new home in about 12 months.
It and Goulburn Campdraft will lease 64-hectares of council-owned land off Taralga Road and plans to build a state-of-the-art equine centre to accommodate both organisations.
"It won't happen overnight but it will happen and I think Gouburn will be proud of what we put up," Mr Boileau said.
Mr Matthews told the gathering he was working through some "small roadblocks" and developing a development application.
Special guest, Mayor Bob Kirk said some objections were likely, but equally, those in support could lodge submissions.
"All of that helps," he said.
"I look forward to seeing the concept and for (this facility) to eventuate."
Other guests included Goulburn MP Wendy Tuckerman, Deputy Mayor Peter Walker, Cr Carol James and Angus Malcolm, regional representative for RDA NSW.
Mrs Grove described the anniversary as a wonderful milestone and a credit to the many people and organisations that had helped transform children's lives.