Alex French and Nicky Dobson at Four Mile
Alex French and Nicky Dobson at Four Mile Jann Houley

Business owner reflects on the success of working with NDIS

NICKY DOBSON, 39, didn't set out to work with disability clients but now that she has, she hasn't looked back.

The owner of Four Mile Agistment and Riding, has had her spelling farm business for seven years now.

She has recently become a NDIS provider, allowing clients to come for horse riding lessons or farm experiences and they are able to claim it.

She was led to go down the NDIS path from client's request.

Some disability clients found her and then word of mouth spread and all of a sudden she had grown quite a strong client base.

Not an industry she has ever worked in, Nicky is loving it.

"An hour is an hour here, doesn't matter if you have a disability or not, you are here for an hour lesson," Nicky said.

She has also put on Alex French as an employee, who is disabled but Nicky can't speak more highly of him.

"Seeing Alex rock up with a smile, seeing him get out of the car... he is just a ray of sunshine," she said.

"Every day he tells me how much he loves his job and apparently he tells everyone in town."

"I want to keep him and we will do everything we can to."

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Working with disabled employees is not as intimidating or hard as it may seem, Nicky explained.

"I just work with Alex's talents and his interests and he loves his job," she said.

"You work with their strengths and you just slowly build their confidence.

"That is what is rewarding... just seeing little achievements and you just step them up a bit more.

"Then the sky is the limit."

The 42 hectare farm also has a petting zoo that is very popular featuring all sorts of animals from pigs, ducks, sheep, puppies, geese and a goat.

Four Mile also offers a 'pony pampering' session for people that don't want or can't ride but they can still have the on farm experience.

"It came about from parents wanting their children out of the shopping centres and offer an experience in the fresh air and outdoors," Nicky said.

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They used to have racehorses on the farm but got out of them this year to focus on the riding school and petting zoo.

The farm has also branched out to "farmer day" where school and childcare centre groups come out and make damper, do painting, ride the horses and have treasure hunts.

In terms of the horse riding, Four Mile coach Hannah Haynes, 27, said it's great exercise to do with not just disability clients but everyone.

Watching clients grow and gain strength is something she can put into words.

"It's great to see them to start from little beginnings to great things from going over to Abi Dubai and coming back with silver medals and other just getting more independent, confidence building," she said.

"I didn't know much about working with disability.... I myself have grown.

"It's just so rewarding watching them become independent individuals and set goals."

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Horse riding is not just about sitting on the back of a horse, it offers so many more benefits and skills Hannah explained.

"Patience, you have to be a team player when you are riding a horse," Hannah said.

"Independence and confidence, boosts their self esteem to know they can achieve something, whether it just be walking over logs."

As for Alex, Hannah has watched him blossom to now be able to pose to the trot, gain better seat position and ride off the lead.

"Now I am able to take him in the lagoon paddock and he is off turning around, going over things and doing his own," she said.



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