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Teaching Begginer Lessons - What qualifications do I need?

I’m about to start college and I’m hoping that I can offer some beginning riding lessons as a way to help pay for my equestrian pursuits when money gets tight. I have a 21 year old mare who can be a bit difficult at times, but I’m hopeful that I can get her to a point where she’s safe for W/T and lunge line lessons.

I don’t have much of a show record because my horse was older when I got her and I never really had a chance to compete, but I’ve been riding for 10 years in many disciplines on lots of different horses and I know how to teach. But what I’m wondering is… are there any affordable programs I can go through or certificates I can get that will give me more credentials as an instructor?


I would try to get a job as a groom/working student/general barn laborer with a barn that has a lesson program. Some of these programs have their qualified older junior riders teach the up/downers.

If you branch out on your own with your own horse you will need much more insurance, etc. It is a very involved process.

^^Agreed with french fry. Finding a job with an established barn will afford you liability coverage and other benefits that are tricky to come by (and make financially worthwhile) when operating on your own. Not to mention finding a barn that will allow you to teach lessons on their property off of your own horse. There are liability and other issues for them, as well.

There are many certification programs available and easily searchable online- ARIA, CHA, ICP, etc. Some are worthwhile, some less so… research carefully.

I don’t have advice but I’m interested in this topic too. I’ve been riding for a long time also, I try to study riding and horses by reading and watching good riders, and I’ve found in other areas of my life that I’m pretty good at teaching adults. What I’d really like to do is teach adult beginners, specifically those with confidence issues. I figure what I’d need is:
–at least one very safe school horse (NOT my current horse)
–more experience for me riding with different trainers and auditing clinics
–the ability to ride a variety of horses up to X level (what should a beginner instructor, capable of teaching from absolute beginner up to maybe the Training level dressage or X-rail jumps, be able to do in terms of actual riding ability?)
–maybe certification if it seems useful? I have not compared the certification programs; I’m not sure I’ve ever ridden with a certified instructor

The suggestion to start at an established barn is a very good one!

Rather than buying a lesson horse you could look for someone who would be willing to feed lease their older/retired/whatever horse into yout program?

In terms of finding clients, word of mouth can be your best friend. Mention it to you vet, farrier, barn friends. Perhaps travel to clients who board at home and are looking for basic lessons at a reasonable pricwe on their own horse. For example people switching from Western to English (or vice versa), people who ride well but need someone to given them a longe lesson. You could also pin up a note in your local feed store or at college.

I learned to teach beginner lessons as a summer counselor. Hired as a teen who loved horses, and was handed half a dozen kids & horses to entertain for a month! That sort of gig isn’t difficult to find, and can get some classes under your belt to get hired for a more year-round position.

PATH International (=therapeutic horsemanship governing board) has an instructor certification process. The cert has gotten more rigorous in the last few years, in terms of both the instructor’s ability to teach, and her own riding ability. You have to learn alot about disabilities of course, and rack up supervised teaching hours at a certified facility before you can be certified yourself. But, the teaching skills apply to all abilities of rider, and many TR centers do pay their instructors. AND, it’s very emotionally rewarding, too boot.

Working at an established barn might be a good idea… I’ll have to see if I can find a barn that’s a good fit near where I decide to study. That might be the challenging part.

Also, I’m actually quite interesting in therapeutic riding so I may have to look into that PATH certification. The only trouble is that the nearest TR place is about 80 miles from where i am now. :confused:

The number one thing you need is insurance. That alone is likely to make it not worth pursuing as you have planned on a small level because it will take up much or all of your earnings, but the flip side is a judgement worth millions against you if you decide to wing it. Especially since you put in print your horse isn’t really suited for a beginner. Sorry to bring a dose of reality into your plan but you really need to be informed of your risks.

No, not at all Laurierace. Thanks for the info.

Agree french fry

“Are there any affordable programs I can go through or certificates I can get that will give me more credentials as an instructor?”

No, and they really don’t make you more “credible”, they’re mostly in it for the money, and only the money…I did pony club (great) and got a BHS rating way back when (really great)…but really, big whoop. Having lots of certificates doesn’t guarantee a good teacher. Parelli minions get lots of ratings it seems (no comment) and unless you’ve drunk their Kool-Aid, meh!


-Insurance can be a deal stopper.
-Will you teach the person on their own horse? If so, are they the appropriate horse to train on? If not their own horse, just where do you find a good beginner school horse (worth their weight in gold).
-How do you know you know how to teach riding? Give a lesson to an instructor, see what they think of your skills and ability to teach.
-What’s your market where you’ll go to college? Is there disposable income to support riding lessons?
-Can you have fun teaching? Do you make it interesting?
-Could you make more money elsewhere? Would doing “grunt” work pay better than teaching…it sure can. Just professionally cleaning tack can be a real money maker.
-Do you even like to teach?

Good Luck

First, good for you for looking for ways to supplement your income while in college! There are lots of certification programs out there, but as others have mentioned, some (most?) are not very well-respected, and those that are (PATH) are a huge commitment of time, so while very worthwhile, maybe not the best fit for you if your current goal is extra income.

Considering the insurance issues and lack of a good lesson horse, I’m going to throw out some advice you didn’t ask for. :slight_smile: Hope you’ll forgive that and believe I’m doing it with good intention.

Rather than teaching riding, I suggest getting a straight-up part-time job to supplement your riding expenses. I know, that doesn’t sound like nearly as much fun, and it probably won’t be. But–what are you planning to study? If you could find part-time work that was relevant to your chosen field of study, it would
A: supplement your income;
B: get you relevant career experience that would will help you land a job after college; and
C: help you find out early on if what you think you want to do for a living is really what you expect it to be.

Then you can continue to ride/enjoy your horse on your own terms. Of course, depending on what you plan to study, it may be hard to find part-time work doing something related, and the hours would probably be less flexible, but I think if you could pull it off it would serve you better in the long run, without putting you at risk for a liability lawsuit.

Just food for thought. Good luck at college; it will be an amazing experience!

I taught at a girls summer camp for two summers in college. That is probably your best bet. You are joining an established program (I did not need to be certified but you could probably find more jobs that way) and can gain valuable experience. You will also not be the person running the program so that can be some weight/responsibility off your back. Plus, you can make decent money for a few months of work, in my opinion. Or at least it felt like a lot of money in college!

I currently have 3 part-time jobs, 2 of which I can continue doing mostly online… so I’m hoping that I’ll be able to keep working there through school. I’d still really like to do something with horses in addition though, because it’s what I love and I think it would be a lot easier to justify taking time out of a busy schedule to go to the barn if I had such an outlet. Thanks for the info though!