Newspaper Article 2007 – Bay Riding for Disabled founder ready with hugs

Bay Riding for Disabled founder ready with hugs



The Hawke’s Bay equestrian fraternity lost a valuable and devoted stalwart recently with the passing of Mary Janet Short.

It was through the efforts of her and husband Jim (who passed away in 1986) that Riding For The Disabled was set up in Hawke’s Bay after they saw the need for such a facility/ [.]

She was born in Nuhaka in 1929, the youngest child of George and Jeannie Tod. Riding was her first love and she was demanding to go for rides before she could even walk.

She was educated by correspondence and then at the Nuhaka Public School on the Mahia side of the river, and later as a boarder at Napier Girls’ High School.

From an early age she competed in local A&P Shows with a succession of horses, and rode with the Mahia Hunt Club whilst working on the farm.

When her family moved back to their original home at Otane she continued her love of horse-riding by hunting with the Hawke’s Bay Hunt Club.

She later moved to Auckland where she trained as a primary school teacher before taking up her first appointment at a school in Hikurangi. She also worked at Beachhaven School on the North Shore, and after marrying Jim Short in 1962 moved to Hawke’s Bay.

While living at a property off St George’s Road North she began teaching riding and breeding thoroughbreds while still continuing to teach infants at Clive and various Hastings Schools.

In the early 1970s the couple bought a property near Pakipaki on SH2 where they raised ponies and ran a riding school which catered for young learners through to advanced dressage riders. They also provided disable people with the opportunity to ride.

That led them to realise there was a strong need for a designated Riding for the Disabled venue.

All the necessary equipment was either built or bought to create a comfortable and safe venue. Helpers were recruited and the Northern Hawke’s Bay RDA (now Hastings RDA) began. From initial Sundays only it expanded, and it became a major part of Mary’s life the following 26 years. The Hastings City Council awarded her a Civic Award for Sport and Recreation.

While busy with the RDA she was also heavily involved in the Hawke’s Bay Racing Club and trained race horses – her most successful being the thoroughbred ‘Tai’.

As well, she was a committee member for the Hawke’s Bay A&P Society and was able to have special classes included in the show programme for members of the RDA.

Dressage became an integral part of the teaching of riding, and she also set up a ‘housewives’ dressage group which enjoyed happy and instructive meetings.

The children she taught learnt good horsemanship as well as equipment care, and many became valuable helpers with the smaller or new riders and with the RDA.

Her older sister Isobel said Mary was never short of healing hugs, found time to listen to and encourage many mothers, children and teens and made many life-long friends.

“She so loved to see the babies and hear what her ‘kids’ were doing.”

Her husband Jim passed away in 1986, but she is survived by her brother and two sisters along with loved nieces and nephews.

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Newspaper article

Date published

23 August 2007


Hawke's Bay Today


Published with permission of Hawke's Bay Today


  • Jim Short
  • Mary Janet Short
  • George Tod
  • Isobel Tod
  • Jeannie Tod

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