NZRDA History and Global connections

History of the NZRDA

Throughout history, horses have played a significant role in the shaping of our existence. It has long been recognised that horse riding can help maintain and improve our health and wellbeing.

Riding for the disabled was introduced to New Zealand in the 1960s by the president of the New Zealand Pony Club Association, Tom Atchison, who had recently returned from the United Kingdom. Riding for the disabled began as a sub group at the Waipukurau Pony Club in Hawke's Bay, followed by various individuals and groups around the country that were also providing opportunities for people with disabilities.

The NZRDA was formed in 1972 and retiring Pony Club President, Mr Atchison, was invited to head the new organisation. Travelling around the country targeting particular people involved in the equestrian world, he encouraged and enabled the formation of many groups throughout New Zealand over the following eight years.

The International Network

The Federation of Riding for the Disabled International (FRDI) was founded in 1980. It forms worldwide links between countries and centres, offering equine activities and assists in the development of new programmes worldwide. It has members form more than 45 countries around the world. The FRDI is actively involved in establishing international standards of safety and competency in instruction, and in encouraging high standards of protection and training of horses for therapy.