Interested in Becoming a Therapeutic Riding Instructor?


Equine-Assisted ActivitiesNARHA, formerly the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association, was formed to promote equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) for individuals with special needs. With over 3,500 certified instructors, more than 42,000 children and adults with physical, mental and emotional challenges find strength and independence through the power of the horse each year.

NARHA offers three levels of certification for therapeutic riding instructors: registered, advanced and master. Therapeutic riding instructors who teach at NARHA Centers are required to achieve one level of NARHA Instructor Certification status.

Registered instructors conduct a safe, basic equestrian lesson to individuals with disabilities. An advanced instructor is knowledgeable in horsemanship and understands disabilities and their relationship to therapeutic riding. At the master’s level, the instructor has a strong background in horsemanship and teaching, as well as a thorough knowledge of disabilities. The instructor has the ability to step into any instruction situation in the field of EAAT and take charge effectively. This program is designed for those instructors with career involvement in therapeutic riding.

NARHA also offers instructor certification in the specialty disciplines of driving, interactive vaulting and the recently released equine specialist in mental health and learning. Centers can use driving to offer students the rewards of interacting with a horse or pony while driving from a carriage. Interactive vaulting, often equated to gymnastics on horseback, uses a surcingle to allow riders to perform many movements. It promotes strength, flexibility, balance and coordination as well as confidence, trust, patience and critical thinking. The equine specialist in mental health and learning certifies an individual as the horse handler in any un-mounted mental health or learning session.

In addition to these certifications, NARHA also now offers an international certification.

To learn more about certification, visit the NARHA website.

To find upcoming workshops in your area, visit the NARHA events calendar.


  1. My instructor is doing the interactive with a world level dressage rider who had a accident that now leaves her pretty much help less. I was there on her first lessom doing this and from there to now there is a huge difference. You can tell how happy she is just to be able to be around horses once again.

  2. I volunteer at Miracles in Motions (a therapeutic riding center near where I live) and just wanted to say that a lot of these places need more volunteers than just instuctors, you can help out in other ways too!

  3. Would like help placing ad for certified narha instructor for our barn in northern California.
    Have a retired individual who might be interested in becoming certified; please email me.

  4. My sister in law therapeutic riding teacher!!! i am not interested but it is fun to have a sister in law that does something diferent then just jumping and dressage!!!!

  5. I used to volunteer at a therapudic barn, it was very rewarding. The happiness the kids got out of it, and how they learned to better control themselves, and figure out their issues..and they LOVE THE HORSES. They just see it as a BFF, and they seem more willing to explain things to the horses than to people. I definitly recommend people that love horses and want to help others get involved with this kind of stuff.

  6. I volunteer at Eagle Mount Horse Therapy of GF, Mt. I am not an instructor but help with the duties that surround taking care of 18 horses, 2 donkeys, 1 minni poney and 1 minni donkey. It is definately work but I get so much more out of it than I put in. It is amazing to see how much the children and adults get out of it. I highly recommend volunteering.

  7. I really want to be a therapeutic riding instructor full time as a job. One place said I have to have a Bachelor of Phycology before even coming back. They did not even have a stable hand opening. I would rather not be a stable hand, but could as one or a horse trainer before becoming certified. I want to be certified. I want to work hard. I have a big caring heart for animals and people. Someone else I talked to says for sure I can be a hand walker/side walker without a college degree, but could I conduct lessons with just the certification and not the college degree? I am a little confused, but very willing. Anybody have suggestions, please let me know. Thank you lots. This is a great post.


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