While the American Riding Instructor's Association (ARIA) admits that certification is not a formal requirement for every riding instructor position, such certification is highly recommended in order to ensure that instructors are able to teach in a safe and professional manner. Achieving certification as a riding instructor will demonstrate your commitment to the highest standards of excellence and give you a leg up when it comes to advancing in the profession.
American Riding Instructor's Association
The American Riding Instructor's Association offers certification at three levels in 15 different subject areas, including recreational riding, show jumping, riding to hounds and stable management. Certification at Level I, which will qualify you as an instructor-in-training, is achieved by passing a written and oral test. You may register for the test if you are 18 or up, whether or not you have experience as a riding instructor. In order to be certified at Levels II and III, it is also necessary to submit a video or DVD of yourself teaching riding classes. As a Level II candidate, qualifying to teach beginner through intermediate students, you must be at least 21 years old with three or more years of teaching experience. To apply for Level III candidacy you'll need to be 25 or older with at least six years of teaching experience. Upon achieving this level of certification, you'll be certified to teach any students from beginner through advanced.
Certified Horsemanship Association
Certified Horsemanship Association offers eight different levels of certification, from assistant instructor up through clinic instructor. As an assistant through Level 4 instructor, you may specialize in English or Western riding, but from the master instructor level on up you'll be dealing with both disciplines. Assistant instructors need to be at least 16 years old, levels through master have a minimum age of 18, assistant clinic instructors must be at least 21, and clinic instructors need to be 25 years or older. Two CHA certified clinicians evaluate candidates during a five-day clinic in which you’ll teach at least four practice lessons, undergo a riding evaluation, take a written test and participate in workshops on teaching techniques, risk management, herd management and professionalism. The CHA can also certify you as a riding instructor who deals with disabled students, a trail guide, an equine facilities manager, a vaulting coach or a horse driving instructor.
Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International
Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International provides a specialized certification for therapeutic riding instructors who work with disabled clients. This certification is offered at registered, advanced and master levels and is open to students ages 18 and up. There are three ways you can be certified as a PATH instructor. You can complete a PATH International approved training course, attend a PATH International higher education member university or college, or obtain online training from PATH. If you choose the online option, you will also need to demonstrate certification in CPR and first aid, teach 25 hours of group lessons under the supervision of a PATH-certified instructor, complete a horsemanship skills checklist, and complete a two-and-a-half-day on-site workshop. At the end of this workshop, you'll receive certification, provided you have successfully completed all other requirements and can demonstrate satisfactory riding skills and the ability to teach a class of two or more students with disabilities.
United States Dressage Federation
The United States Dressage Federation offers specialized training and certification for dressage instructors. In order to apply for USDF certification you need to be at least 18 years old. You'll also need first aid certification, three letters of recommendation, three years of experience as a riding instructor, and three scores of 60 percent or higher from competitions recognized by the USDF. If you meet all of the necessary requirements, you can then apply to be tested by USDF examiners on your dressage teaching skills. If you pass this test with a score of 70 percent or higher, you will be granted USDF certification at the appropriate level.
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