North American Riding for the Handicapped Association






Therapeutic Horses

Special Equipment

Special Helpers

Common Conditions

General Benefits



“NARHA is a membership organization that fosters safe, professional, ethical and therapeutic equine activities through education, communication, standards and research for people with and without disabilities.”


The above quote, taken from the NARHA's mission statement, accurately sums up the purpose behind that institution's entire existence. The North American Riding for the Handicapped Association was formed in 1969 when the founders of two previous programs—Community Association of Riding for the Disabled in Toronto, Canada and the Cheff Center for the Handicapped in Augusta, MI—and others recognized the need for a large storehouse of information on therapeutic horseback riding. The NARHA organizes, regulates, and coordinates therapeutic riding programs in the United States and Canada. An important goal of the NARHA is accrediting therapeutic riding facilities. Originally, the process of accreditation included a visit to the facility applying for accreditation, but as more therapeutic riding programs opened and more facilities applied for accreditation from the NARHA, these visits were no longer feasible and a program of submitting photos and videos of the facility replaced it. Still, the on-site visits provided valuable educational experience and so later—after NARHA was a well-established and larger institution—the Board of Directors asked an On-Site Accreditation Task Force to formulate a plan for on-site evaluations. Currently, facilities are once again inspected on-site as part of the accreditation process. Another important goal of the NARHA is the certification of therapeutic riding instructors. An instructor at an NARHA accredited center must have one of three levels of instructor certification. The three levels of instructor certification are Registered, Advanced, and Master. NARHA also certifies instructors for Driving. A third important goal of the NARHA is to educate people about therapeutic riding. To achieve this goal, NARHA sponsors a series of workshops. NARHA also hired a public relations firm to increase the general public’s awareness of the values of therapeutic riding.


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The NARHA sponsors horse shows for participants of therapeutic horseback riding. It also nominates a therapeutic rider of the year and a therapeutic horse of the year.