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Becoming certified to teach?

Is it necessary? Have you done it, or would you recommend it? I want to begin teaching, but have been wondering if it would be best to get a certification before doing so. Any advice you have on becoming a trainer is appreciated!

Don’t know if you are in Canada or the US. There are differences I think.
In Canada, certification program is run by EC. The program started in 1983. I took the test the first year, as I thought it was a good plan, seeing what was teaching lessons in my area. Half a dozen years later, I wrote to the CEF (at the time) and asked them to please take my name off the list of idiots they had passed, it was embarrassing to have my name on that list. The only positive side to being “certified” is that you do get a slight break on your insurance costs. But it costs as much or more than the difference to keep the certification officially “up to date”. So no true advantage. It is possible to buy the insurance without the certification. Most of the top coaches at the big shows are NOT certified. If you feel you need the “certification” to prove to your potential clients your qualifications, you will not be a successful coach. Because the certification means nothing in terms of quality. The only thing that determines your qualifications as a coach is the success you have coaching, that your students become successful riders, and compete successfully. This is the most likely to happen if you have already done this yourself, and are currently involved in high level competition yourself. Keep in mind that there is a difference between being a “trainer” (of horses) and being a “coach” (of people). To gain respectability as a new coach, one of the best ideas is to work with an older coach/trainer as an apprentice and professional rider for some extended period of time, on the road, at the shows, doing the grunt work, looking at the profession from the bottom side, upwards.

I am in the US :slight_smile: Thank you very much for your response. Those were my thoughts on it, too. I have ridden with a few other trainers, and plan on being a working student for a little while longer before trying to branch out on my own. I just wanted to be sure I had my ducks in a row!

I am not automatically impressed with certifcation. I am a proofs in the pudding type of person. I am more interested in what your turning out than whats hanging on the wall.

Work for an experienced trainer. While doing that get your CPR/First aid certs and get your own insurance, make a business plan, do some goal setting, find some alternative continuing education for yourself like reading quality reference books and auditing/riding in clinics. Think and plan what you have to share with students beyond making it around the ring. Actual mileage working with someone else will really help along with developing a track record as an instructor.

To me, certification means nothing. Actually, when I see certification, I generally think LESS of the instructor. Why? Because a really good instructor shows results, not certification. I’m pretty sure I could pass a certification course easily. But you know what? I totally suck at teaching.

The only place I can see certification being helpful or needed is when teaching special needs students.

Actually, in some states, you NEED a license (or certification) to teach. My homestate, MA, requires a license - I believe you need 80+hrs with an already licensed instructor before you can take the test. You should not think less of a person because they have a piece of paper - at least they showed the initiative to show up for the test and passed.

In addition, there are also some certifications required in eventing, which IIRC, are hosted by the USEA/USEF - there are certain workshops you will need to take if you plan on teaching anything beyond beginners or lower levels. Ex - if you are planning on teaching prelim+, you need to have at least competed to that level if I recall correctly.

Personally, I think it’s a great goal. Idiots abound in every profession and I can’t say I’ve never met one with certification - but acquiring your license or certification makes you one step closer to being a professional and achieving your personal goal. You might want to check up with your state’s local Agri laws and see what specific clauses/laws are in place for your state regarding teaching/instruction.

Look into American Riding Instructors Assoc. certification. The tests you have to take to pass are not a cake-walk, and I do think having certification shows real dedication and enthusiasm for making a career as an instructor (esp. Levels II and III - they require some serious investment of effort to pass). Plus you do get insurance discounts for being ARIA certified. http://www.riding-instructor.com/certification/

Look into American Riding Instructors Assoc. certification. The tests you have to take to pass are not a cake-walk, and I do think having certification shows real dedication and enthusiasm for making a career as an instructor (esp. Levels II and III - they require some serious investment of effort to pass). Plus you do get insurance discounts for being ARIA certified. http://www.riding-instructor.com/certification/[/QUOTE]

As someone who is certified by ARIA (Level II Saddleseat), I can tell you it is certainly NOT a cake-walk. You are required to take 2 tests before ever going to the testing center, on your ethics etc. It really makes you think how you would handle certain situations since there isn’t a clear right or wrong answer to the questions they provide. Then there is your presentation to the testing group (you pick a topic and talk to the audience, showing you can speak and teach a subject to an audience) followed by numerous tests - in depth anatomy, first aid, general riding, and your specialty area, true/false, bits/tack. Plus for levels 2 and 3 they require you to send in a video of yourself teaching for 20 or so minutes. Did it make me a teacher? no, 15 years of working under others did. Did it teach me how to be better, safer instructor? You betcha. It was certainly no cake-walk, took hours of studying and prep, but was more than worth it in the end.

Becoming certified

I have been teaching professionally since 1969.
English, western, jumping, eventing, saddle seat, side saddle, driving and more.
I had been teaching for 20 years when I decided to become CHA certified , and I thought it would be easy.
No you take a written test, then you teach at least 4 classes sometimes more , if your going for a level 4.
And you attend workshops, on safety, horse management, teaching techniques and more. I can say I became a better instructor and made me aware of safety issues I had not thought about . And I have taught on average 80 students a week as high as 125 for years.and no bad accidents . It’s even rare for one of my students to fall off.
Maybe some people would not care about you being certified, but I can guarantee you parents will.
I have asked many clients over the years why they 1st chose me and many said because of my certification.
To me becoming certified shows you want to be a professional.

FRom a strictly financial standpoint, ARIA certification is a good idea because you save enough on your first year insurance to pay for the certification.


I would go the ARIA route. It never hurts to learn more about the subject you are passionate about, and if certification is included along the way, with the additional bonus of an insurance discount which pays back the cost of the certification, then why not do it? Once you get it, continue building and keep it current.

The people who will be ready to hire you to teach in their programs are the people who believe in some form of objective standards to be met for teachers, be it certification, licensing, or holding judges cards. The parents who will ask you to come out to their farms to teach their children will also be favoring at some form of credentials.

The people who will resist hiring you to teach in their operations are the ones who didn’t get certification themselves because they are convinced they have met or bested the standards themselves without having to meet anyone else’s standards for credentials, see no practical value for themselves in credentials, and have no desire to sink in the time or money into something they feel they already do well. Some of the will verbally pooh-pooh these credentials, as well. These, in many instances, are the same people who would protest loudly if their children were being taught in school classrooms by unlicensed teachers with four-year college degrees, yet still insist that their being unlicensed/uncredentialed to teach in the ring is different because they know what they are doing, and will use their results in the show rings (which in some of the disciplines is as biased as it gets) to justify their reasoning behind their lack of credentials. It absolutely defies modern logic, and hopefully one day will go the way of the dodo, but it’s out there, and as a new hire you are going to run up against it. Don’t fall into the old ways of doing things because of this.

Go for the long view, instead of the short view. Get your certification from a well-respected national organization anyway, continue to build your training career, keep your certification current and at some point go after your judges cards. Once you are in the position to start your own training program you will have the experience and the credentials to back it up, which in the long run will get you more opportunities than those who have none.