How Do I Get Certified to Give Horse Riding Lessons?

If you have the ability to ride horses and instruct others, you can pursue certification to give horse riding lessons. Continue reading to learn more about certification options that might be open to you. Schools offering Animal Care degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Overview of Horse Riding Instruction Certification

Horse riding associations and equestrian schools offer instruction in giving horse riding lessons that can lead to certification. Before you get involved in these programs, you need to know how to ride a horse, and in some instances, you'll need to know the basics of horse training. If you pursue certification from an association, you'll likely need to first become a member of that organization. There are several types of riding instructor certifications available, and each type has more than one level.

Important Information About This Field of Study

Online Availability Not available
Prerequisites A minimum 18 years of age, CPR and first aid certified, various hours of horse training/familiarity of horses prior to program
Common Courses Teaching I, II, III, Riding Master III
Degrees/Certificates Therapeutic Riding Instructor, Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning, Trail Guide, Clinic Instructor

Certification Options

Standard Instructor

The American Riding Instructors Association (ARIA) and the Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA) offer horse riding instructor certifications. Equestrian schools may offer their own certifications in standard horse riding instruction. Most programs have three levels of certification available, with the exception of the CHA, which offers eight levels of standard instructor certification.

Standard certifications are typically available in English and Western riding styles. In order to get certified, you must meet age requirements, which start at age 16 for assistant instructors and age 18 for basic instructors. The CHA requires membership in its organization and the completion of a 5-7 day certification clinic in order to earn certification. ARIA requires membership and a written exam to obtain the first level of certification.

Therapeutic Riding Instructor

Horse riding can be a therapeutic experience for disabled and handicapped individuals. By specializing and working as a therapeutic riding instructor, you can help disabled students build strength and independence through horse riding. To become certified as a therapeutic riding instructor, you'll need to have experience in working with disabled students. For most certifications, you'll have to meet age eligibility requirements and pass an exam.

Several organizations offer certifications in therapeutic horse riding instruction. The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) offers registered, advanced, and master-level certifications for therapeutic riding instructors. You'll need to be 18 years old and a member of PATH Intl. before you can pursue the first level of certification. You'll also need to complete an approved training course or instructor workshop. Training programs are available through colleges and equestrian schools.

The CHA offers five levels of certification to instructors for riders with disabilities (IRDs). The CHA certifies IRDs for both therapeutic and recreational instruction. If you pursue CHA certification, you can start at age 16 and become a certified assistant side-walker or horse-handler. In order to obtain higher-level IRD certification, you'll need to first earn a standard riding instructor certification.

Trail Guide

In addition to horse riding lessons, you can become certified in guiding a class in trail riding. The CHA offers several levels of trail guide certification, starting with an assistant guide credential. To be eligible for assistant trail guide certification, you'll need to be at least 16 years old. To become a fully certified trail guide, you'll need to be 18 years or older, and you'll have to attend a certification clinic.

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