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History of FCRT

History of The Fortune Centre of Riding Therapy

The FCRT began on 16th November 1976 as “Project Fortune”.  It was founded by a small group of people led by Jenny Baillie (1933-2014) and Yvonne Nelson (1925-2015).

“Fortune” was the name of a 12.2 hh grey pony belonging to the Baillie family, who first worked at a course for PHAB (Physically Handicapped Able Bodied) in 1964 and subsequently in the formative years of the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA).

The therapeutic value of riding for people with disabilities was well known to the Greeks as early as the 5th Century B.C.  Historians quote Hippocrates as saying, “Riding in clean air strengthens body muscles and keeps them in good form”.  In the first half of the 20th century Lis Hartel, an accomplished Danish horsewoman, was determined to ride independently again after polio left her unable to walk without the aid of crutches. Subsequently she brought attention to riding for people with disabilities when she won the silver medal for Dressage at the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games.

The Riding for the Disabled Association was founded in England in 1965, called then the Advisory Council on Riding for the Disabled. At that time it focused almost entirely on people with physical disabilities.

In more recent times the value of horses for people – both riding and caring for horses – has become widely recognised throughout the world. Horses are known to make a valuable contribution in the fields of both mental and physical health and as an alternative seat of learning in education. The FCRT has played a large part in the growing recognition of the role of horses in education. At the FCRT the focus is on the way in which naturally occurring learning opportunities, in an environment that prospers learning, can be of use to people.

Today worldwide collaboration between organisations and individuals whose objectives are philanthropic, scientific and educational in the field of equine assisted activities are brought together under HETI (The Federation of Horses in Education and Therapy International). As a full member of HETI the FCRT works with other HETI UK full members; the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Therapeutic Riding (ACPTR), God Unlimited (GUL) Outdoor Therapy Centre and the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) and with individual Associates members of HETI.  HETI is a global organisation that forms worldwide links between countries, centres and individuals offering equine facilitated activities and assists in the development of new programmes worldwide. For further information on the historical background and on current research and training, please visit the HETI website: www.HETIfederation.org.  You may also wish to visit www.eftresource.org.

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