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 SRU's equestrian center earns premiere site accreditation 



Oct. 27, 2008
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine:


SRU's equestrian center earns premier site accreditation 


SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. �- The Storm Harbor Equestrian Center at Slippery Rock University has become the only university-based equestrian center in Pennsylvania to receive a premier center accreditation from the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association. 

            The Denver-based association awarded the accreditation last week after an August on-site evaluation of Storm Harbor. The association examined the center's riding programs for people with disabilities, professionalism, cleanliness and educational effectiveness. Storm Harbor exceeded the required standards in all categories.

            "The NARHA makes several standards mandatory, which you must receive a 100 percent on to pass and other sections that require a minimum of 75 percent or better in each category and 80 percent in the overall scores. Our scores were 100 percent, 94 percent and 95 percent," said Courtney Gramlich, equestrian center director. "They even looked at the horses to ensure they are healthy, and vaccination and other records were checked to ensure proper care is being given."

            Only three other equestrian centers in the state have the premier center accreditation. None is located in western Pennsylvania. Ohio has 11 premier centers, the closest being in Cleveland.

            "Accreditations are very important because they hold us to a national standard," said Susan Hannam, dean of the College of Health, Environment and Science. "This NARHA designation makes us one of only a few colleges accredited at this level in the eastern United States. This has been a goal since we opened the center two years ago. Most importantly, the accreditation, along with our USDA certification, assures everyone that we have a safe and 

accessible facility to all persons with disabilities."

            "It is significant because it's hard to attain, because you have to follow all the regulations," Gramlich said. "It will enable us to apply for a few more grants that only award money to accredited centers. It could lead to program expansions."

            Storm Harbor provides weekly therapeutic horseback riding for more than 55 community children and adults with disabilities. SRU students, many in the University's signature adapted physical activity program, assist with the lessons. A NARHA-registered instructor conducts all the lessons. Storm Harbor also serves as a site for camps, Special Olympics events and a program for veterans with disabilities.

            Storm Harbor, which houses 12 horses, an indoor arena, classrooms and a tack room, employs several SRU students.

            NARHA's mission is to changes lives by promoting excellence in equine-assisted activities. The association fosters safe, professional, ethical and activities through its accreditation standards. The association has nearly 800 members in the U.S. and Canada.


Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.

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