How to Become Certified to Teach Therapeutic Horseback Riding

Written by lara bricker
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Using horses as therapy for children and adults with physical, emotional or cognitive disabilities has been shown to have many benefits. Therapeutic horseback riding centres are located around the country; classes are taught by certified instructors who receive training and certification from the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA), the governing organisation for therapeutic riding in the United States.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging


  1. 1

    There are two ways to become a registered therapeutic riding instructor. First, you can attend a NARHA approved training course, which may take several months to complete. If it is not possible to travel for the training, complete the online training course and testing, followed by a shorter period of on-site training.

    Begin the process by becoming a current NARHA individual member. You must be 18 years of age or older and be certified in basic adult and child CPR and First Aid.

  2. 2

    Gain knowledge of different horse breeds, colours and parts of the horse; horse senses and behaviour, feeding and stable management; health and sickness; grooming; selecting a therapy horse and riding and instructing theory. Complete an online open book exam which will test you on knowledge of horses and therapeutic riding. Once you pass the open book exam, you will become an instructor in training and move to the next step in becoming an instructor.

  3. 3

    Complete 25 hours of therapeutic riding teaching under the guidance of a NARHA Certified Instructor. Learn how to teach mounted therapeutic riding classes. Instruct students in grooming and tacking up a horse, tying up a horse, proper riding attire, how to correctly lead a horse, how to mount and dismount.

  4. 4

    Attend and successfully complete an on-site workshop, which includes two days of classroom and hands-on learning. Following that workshop, you must complete an on-site certification during which you will demonstrate your own riding ability and teach a class of at least two students with disabilities.

  5. 5

    Once you pass the final step, you will be able to teach at a NARHA approved therapeutic riding centre. To continue teaching, you will need to renew your instructor membership with NARHA annually, provide documentation of 20 hours of continuing education each year and keep your CPR and Adult and Child First Aid certification current.

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