North American Riding for the Handicapped Association NARHA

North American Riding for the Handicapped Association NARHA, a national association of equine assisted activity and therapy – apreciating the power of the horse to change lives – Linked with North West Therapeutic Riding Cente NWTRC.

Mission: NARHA changes and enriches lives by promoting excellence in equine-assisted activities and therapies.
What is NARHA: NARHA was founded in 1969 as the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association to promote safe and effective therapeutic horseback riding throughout the United States and Canada.  … (about 1/2).

Core Values; Future Trends; Who is served; Publications; Online education; Resources; Jobs; Join; FAQs; Support;
Address: NARHA Office: PO Box 33150, Denver, CO 80233, USA;

About 2/2: … Today, NARHA has nearly 800 member centers and over 6,300 individual members in countries all over the world, who help and support more than 42,000 men, women and children with special needs each year through a variety of equine-assisted activity and therapy programs. 

Though NARHA began with a focus on horseback riding as a form of physical and mental therapy, the organization and its dedicated members have since developed a multitude of different equine-related activities for therapeutic purposes, collectively known as equine-assisted activities and therapies (or EAAT). Besides horseback riding, EAAT also includes therapeutic carriage driving; interactive vaulting, which is similar to gymnastics on horseback; equine-facilitated learning and mental health, which use the horse as a partner in cognitive and behavioral therapy, usually with the participation of a licensed therapist; ground work and stable management; and NARHA Horses for Heroes, a new program that uses a variety of EAAT disciplines specifically to help war veterans and military personnel. In addition, many of NARHA’s 25 volunteer-driven committees are working on identifying and refining even more disciplines and activities that might be put to use in the world of EAAT … (more).


NARHA, along with its dedicated members and volunteers, has been a pioneer in the field of EAAT, bringing the novel idea of therapeutic horseback riding to the United States from Europe in the middle of the twentieth century. Lis Hartel, an award-winning dressage rider from Denmark, is generally regarded as the impetus for the development of therapeutic riding in Europe. Despite being physically impaired by polio, Hartel took the silver medal in Grand Prix dressage at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, and medical and equine professionals around Europe soon began to implement programs for riding as a form of physical therapy.

Word of these events spread quickly to the United States and Canada, and therapeutic riding centers began opening in North America as well. Two of the first professional riding centers were the Community Association of Riding for the Disabled, founded by J.J. Bauer and Dr. R.E. Renaud in Toronto, Ontario; and the Cheff Center for the Handicapped, founded with the help of Lida McCowan in Augusta, Michigan.

A group of 23 forward-thinking and passionate individuals soon recognized the need for an organization to act as a clearinghouse of information about therapeutic riding, so on November 2, 1969, this group gathered at the Red Fox Inn in Middleberg, Virginia, to lay the groundwork for the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association. From these beginnings, NARHA, as it is now known, has grown to thousands of members across the world and expanded upon therapeutic riding to include dozens of different equine-assisted activities that benefit people with special needs. Today NARHA’s headquarters are located in Denver, Colorado, but hundreds of volunteers from all over the country – including a few of the founding members – still help run, govern and grow the organization so it may continue to be an industry leader.

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