Become a Certified Horseback Riding Instructor

It has been a long time coming, but now horseback riding instructors can become certified in their sport and become nationally accredited to teach horseback riding lessons. The ARIA (American Riding Instructors’ Association) is now sponsoring ARICP (American Riding Instructors’ Certification Program) certification, which gives you elevated status in the equestrian community and allows you to better market your skills as a teacher.

For many years, it was difficult for riders to find good teachers because there was no way to tell if a particular instructor was qualified. Though it is by no means required for an instructor to be certified, many teachers are taking this route to add credibility to their business and to attract new students. ARICP certification is a little expensive, but well-worth it to career instructors who will build more business and advertise themselves as certified.

The cost of ARICP certification is currently $595, and includes your membership to the ARIA, a certification card, a bumper sticker, and free advertising on the website. It basically guarantees free promotion for your services. There are three levels of certification – 1, 11, & 111 – and several different types of specialization, including the following:

-Distance Riding
-Hunt Seat
-Mounted Patrol Training Officer
-Recreational Riding
-Show Jumping
-Stable Management
-Western: Pleasure & Equitation

Instructors can be certified in any of the three levels for each of these specialities, and are welcome to move up in levels when they are ready to advance.

LEVEL I (Training)

Level I instructors must be at least 18 years of age, and must pass four separate written tests with an average of 80% on each one. The Level I certification is meant as an introduction into instruction, and does not require any prior teaching experience. The applicant should, however, be comfortable with horsemanship and with his specialization of choice. Later, the applicant can take the Level II test at a 50% discount.

LEVEL II (Teaching Novice & Intermediate Riders)

This is the next level of certification, and applicants must be at least 21 years of age with at least three years of instruction experience. The qualifications are much more stringent and the applicant must pass all written tests with a score of 85% or better. The applicant must also submit a video of his teaching and riding skills (either in VHS or DVD format) for consideration. The video will be reviewed and will assist in certification along with the written tests.

LEVEL III (Teaching Advanced Students)

The minimum age for the highest certification is 25 years of age, with a minimum of six years’ teaching experience. This applicant must also submit a video that passes the Level III evaluation, and must pass each test with a score of 90% or better. They must demonstrate an acute understanding of the horse, the rider, and effective teaching practicies, and must be qualified to both ride and instruct at an advanced level in their chosen specialty.

The ARICP will come to any location in which there are at least six instructors with the desire to be certified. At the chosen location, tests will be administered, videos will be evaluated, and the instructor must give a presentation on a subject of choice. After this, the applicants who passed will be given their membership cards.

Applicants who do not pass the first round may return to take their tests at another time. The second attempt at certification costs $200.00, and as long as the applicant returns within one year, he will only have to take the tests on which he failed to make a passing grade.

In addition to an elevated status within the equestrian community, ARICP certified instructors receive discounts on insurance and a free subscription to their quarterly magazine, Riding Instructor. There are too many incompetent teachers in the world who don’t know what they’re doing, which is a problem that the ARICP is trying to prevent. If you want to show your clients that you are a capable instructor, or even if you just want to prove it to yourself, this program is an excellent way to go.

For more information about ARICP certification, visit their website. You can learn more about the process and determine which specialty you would like to choose. You can also contact them via phone, e-mail, fax or mail:

American Riding Instructors Association (ARIA)
28801 Trenton Court
Bonita Springs, FL 34134-3337

Tel: (239) 948-3232
Fax: (239) 948-5053


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