CERTIFICATION COMPETENCY GUIDELINES

  • These guidelines reflect the minimum desirable characteristics for CHA certification.
  • For riding instructor/trail guide certification the term riding instructor refers to an individual who teaches horsemanship theory and application to one or more students. The purpose of these lessons may range from teaching minimum skills for one-time recreational riders to the coaching of serious competitive riders.
  • Have strong safety awareness, able to help avoid and manage emergency situations; able to implement and evaluate a risk management plan, written and unwritten, for group riding programs.
  • Have the ability to independently and safely catch, halter, lead, tie, groom and tack horses.
  • For riding instructor/trail guide certification - able to ride safely and competently at the walk, trot/jog, canter/lope, in the arena or an open riding area
  • For riding instructor/trail guide certification have knowledge of horsemanship theory and riding skills, beyond the level at which they teach. to, observing students during lessons, effectively communicating instruction and providing physical assistance when necessary.
  • All other certification participants need to have knowledge of horsemanship theory and skills appropriate to their specific certification.
  • Be generally familiar with human anatomy, physiology, psychology, balance, coordination and motion as relavant to the certification; able to evaluate and reduce unnecessary physical discomfort and stress, and design exercises and activities, both mounted and unmounted, to assist rider progress.
  • Have the ability to design, implement and evaluate methods of effective instruction to strengthen performance for both horse and rider.
  • Have a basic knowledge and understanding of equine anatomy and physiology; can implement basic management practices related to feeding, health care, maintenance and use of horses, can detect, prevent and manage equine lameness, sickness and disease. Will demonstrate and mandate kind, caring and humane attitudes and treatment of horses at all times.
  • Have the ability to assess the suitability, condition, fit and adjustment of all tack and equipment used in the program.
  • Have a basic understanding of professional standards and behavior, set a good example in personal attitudes, language, appearance and behavior at all times. Have knowledge of and comply with legal and ethical requirements related to duty of care, liability and professional conduct.

Click here to see Benefits of Certification Booklet and What to Expect at a Certification Clinic

 

Click here to see some sample 15 minute lessons

 

Click here to see webinar on what to expect at a CHA Clinic

 

STANDARD INSTRUCTOR CERTIFICATION

Photo_Lesson.jpgFor group riding instructors dealing with progressive skill building in all levels of riders, both in the arena and on the trail. Certification may be earned in English and/or Western disciplines; minimum age for assistant certification is 16, minimum age for instructor certification is 18. Four levels of certification may be earned in both English and Western disciplines, ranging from assistant instructor to CHA clinician. Level of certification is at the sole discretion of the Clinic Staff and no certification of any kind is guaranteed.

THE CHA CERTIFICATION PROCESS… involves evaluation by two CHA Certified Clinicians, in a 5 day certification clinic held at approved CHA Program Member host site facilities. CHA certification clinics involve teaching at least four practice lessons, a riding evaluation, a written test and participation in workshops on risk management, teaching techniques, professionalism and herd management. Certification is awarded at the end of the clinic and the level of certification attained (if any) is the sole discretion of the two CHA Clinicians conducting the clinic. Certification is valid for three years from the certification date; the instructor must maintain annual individual membership in CHA. Instructors may recertify at the end of the three-year certification period by providing documentation of at least 25 hours of continuing education and work within the industry. The only way to raise the level of certification is to attend another CHA certification clinic. Seasonal equestrian staff certification requires a different certification process; please refer to the section below.

They must be able to mount, dismount and ride at the walk, trot and canter/lope on the correct lead, with good form and control in a group, in the arena and in the open. Instructor candidates must be able to ride above the level that they will be certified to teach (for exceptional circumstances, see Special Considerations under "Instructor Competency Guidelines" in the CHA Clinic Instructor's Manual).

  • ASSISTANT INSTRUCTOR: English and/or Western, qualified to assist in a lesson or trail ride, under the supervision of a certified instructor.
  • LEVEL ONE INSTRUCTOR: qualified to provide foundational instruction to beginners, with a strong emphasis on safety and group control; candidates must demonstrate ability in ground handling, mounting, correct position and control at walk-trot.
  • LEVEL TWO INSTRUCTOR: English and/or Western, qualified to improve all aspects of the first level, and progressing through canter/lope, including diagonals, balance of horse and rider, pre-jumping exercises, western patterns, trail riding, etc.
  • LEVEL THREE INSTRUCTOR: English and/or Western, qualified to coach students in improving form, style and understanding of the natural aids, including basic jumping, turn backs to the rail, transitions, school figures and leads with a greater emphasis on horsemanship theory and horse care.
  • LEVEL FOUR INSTRUCTOR: English and/or Western, qualified to improve the performance of advanced riders and their horses, including jumping courses, dressage movements, reining, and other performance events, advanced horse management and horsemanship theory.
  • MASTER INSTRUCTOR: qualified in Level 4, both English and Western; highly experienced in a variety of teaching and management situations.
  • ASSISTANT CLINIC INSTRUCTOR: minimum age 21; prerequisite of Master Instructor certification and recommendation from a CHA Clinic Instructor; qualified to assist in certifying instructors; MI's recommended as an ACI must apply to CHA for ACI certification.
  • CLINIC INSTRUCTOR: minimum age 25; qualified to conduct CHA certification clinics and certify instructors with assistance from another CHA clinician. To become certifed as a CI, the instructor must first attain ACI certification and then assist at a certain number of CHA clinics to qualify as a CHA Clinic Instructor.

 

TRAIL GUIDE CERTIFICATION

For trail guides dealing with rides ranging from short rides to wilderness packing. Trail Guide Certification Clinics are similar in format and content to the Standard Clinic, but involve two nights at a base camp and three nights on the trail and includes camping skills, environmental issues and trail ethics. Minimum age for assistants is 16; minimum age for guides is 18; certification may be earned at seven levels. Level of certification is the sole discretion of the Trail Clinic Staff and is determined by skills and knowledge demonstrated during the clinic.Photo_of_trail_ride.jpg

  • ASSISTANT GUIDE: qualified to assist on trail rides under the direction and supervision of a certified trail guide.
  • TRAIL GUIDE: qualified to conduct trail rides not exceeding one full day in duration, including securing horses away from the base stable, as might be needed for breaks.
  • OVERNIGHT GUIDE: qualified to take riders on overnight campouts on the program's property, with support from the host facility (does not necessarily use packhorses).
  • PACKING GUIDE: qualified to manage horses and people for longer periods and in camping situations in non-wilderness areas, including simple horse packing and the double diamond hitch.
  • WILDERNESS GUIDE: qualified to manage a riding program and organize and conduct extended pack trips into back country wilderness areas, able to use a variety of packing equipment and tie a variety of hitches.
  • TRAIL ASSISTANT CLINIC INSTRUCTOR: minimum age of 21, prerequisite of Wilderness Guide certification, must be recommended to become a trail clinician by a CHA Trail Clinician and apply to CHA for TACI certification.
  • TRAIL CLINIC INSTRUCTOR: minimum age 25; qualified to conduct CHA trail certification clinics and certify trail guides with assistance from another CHA Trail Clinician. To become certifed as a TCI, the guide must first attain TACI certification and then assist at a certain number of CHA clinics to qualify as a CHA Trail Clinic Instructor.

DAY RIDE TRAIL GUIDE CERTIFICATION

For programs offering some arena instruction and short trail rides from one hour up to a day long, but no overnight. Day Ride Trail Guide Certification Clinics are similar in format and content to the Standard Clinic, but there is an emphasis on teaching basic riding skills and peforming trail guiding skills in a structured program. It is a three day clinic with renewable certification and includes workshops on topics such as Planning/Supervising Trail Rides, Risk management/Accident Prevention/Emergency Procedures, Horse/Equipment Management and Low Impact Trail Riding.. Minimum age for assistants is 16; minimum age for guides is 18. Level of certification is the sole discretion of the Clinic Staff and is determined by skills and knowledge demonstrated during the clinic.

  • ASSISTANT DAY RIDE TRAIL GUIDE: qualified to assist in the arena or on short trail rides under the direction and supervision of a certified trail guide or instructor.
  • DAY RIDE TRAIL GUIDE: qualified to teach CHA Level One skills and conduct trail rides not exceeding one full day in duration, including securing horses away from the base stable, as might be needed for breaks.

 

COMBINED INSTRUCTOR/TRAIL GUIDE CERTIFICATION CLINICS 

For use in recreational programs, basic level instructional programs and programs that include both progressive skill building and trailriding. Combined Certification Clinics offer both Standard Instructor Certification and Trail Guide Certification, up to the second level in each program. Certification may be attained in both English and Western as a guide and/or an instructor.

  • ASSISTANT GUIDE: qualified to assist a CHA certified instructor or trail guide on simple trail rides.
  • TRAIL GUIDE: qualified to guide rides not exceeding one day in length.
  • OVERNIGHT GUIDE: qualified to lead supported overnight rides on the facility's property.
  • ASSISTANT INSTRUCTOR: qualified to assist a CHA certified instructor in arena lessons.
  • LEVEL ONE INSTRUCTOR: qualified to provide foundational instruction to beginners.
  • LEVEL TWO INSTRUCTOR: qualified to improve all aspects of Level 1, up to introduction of canter/lope.

 

COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY CERTIFICATION

Special considerations are given to colleges offering CHA certification as part of their existing equine studies curriculum, integrated with courses on teaching techniques or horsemanship instruction.

Hosting requirements: an accredited school, college or university may offer CHA instructor certification as part of their equine studies curriculum; the school or host facility must be a CHA Program Member and meet the requirements for host site approval.

Staffing: an accredited school, college or university may utilize the school’s equine studies faculty members or hire a CHA clinician for the didactic portion of the certification program (lectures, written test). A final evaluation and certification is conducted at the end of the grading period, staffed by two CHA clinicians. Clinicians for college clinics must be approved by the Program Director to insure the clinicians have sufficient experience to deal with a larger clinic group.

During the regular grading period, the college faculty member or a CHA clinician conducts the didactic portion of certification using the CHA manuals, covering the mandatory lectures for certification clinics, conducts and grades the CHA written test, prepares the students for their demonstration lessons and assigns the first one or two demonstration lessons for each student.

At the end of the grading period, two CHA clinicians come in to evaluate the two to four demonstration lessons from each participant and issue certification.

Up to a 20:2 participant to CHA staff ratio is allowed, since these students are better prepared for certification and less time is needed during the certification phase (since many of the clinic requirements are already completed).

 

INSTRUCTORS OF RIDERS WITH DISABILITIES CERTIFICATION

For instructors working in programs that provide recreational, instructional, or mainstream riding for persons with disabilities - cognitive and physical. The materials and curriculum of these certification clinics are specific to the various considerations, adaptations, applications, contraindications, adaptive equipment, and horses used in riding programs that serve persons with physical and/or cognitive disabilities. CHA awards certification as an Instructor of Riders with Disabilities at the following levels:  Assistant Instructor, Level One Instructor, Level Two Instructor, and Level Three Instructor.

Certification Qualifications

 IRD Assistant Certification:    

  • Minimum eighteen (18) years of age.
  • Minimum five (5) hours of working with persons with disabilities in any capacity.
  • Qualified to assist in the instruction of riders with disabilities under a certified instructor.

 IRD Level One Certification

  • Minimum eighteen (18) years of age.
  • Hold a current CPR and First Aid certification.
  • Minimum of 25 hours teaching riding to persons with disabilities.
  • Pass the IRD written examination with a minimum score of 70%.
  • Pass the Standard written examination with a minimum score of 70%.
  • Qualified to teach riders with cognitive &/or physical disabilities, up to level Two horsemanship skills when applicable.

  IRD Level Two Certification

  • Minimum twenty-one (21) years of age.
  • Hold a current CPR and First Aid certification.
  • Documented a minimum 120 hours of teaching riders with disabilities.
  • Pass IRD written examination with a minimum score of 80%
  • Pass the Standard written examination with a minimum score of 80%.
  • Qualified to teach riders with cognitive &/or physical disabilities up to Level Three horsemanship where applicable.

IRD Level Three Certification

  • Minimum twenty-one (21) years of age.
  • Hold current CPR and First Aid certification.
  • Document a minimum of 160 hours of teaching riders with disabilities.
  • Pass the IRD written examination with a minimum score of 90%.
  • Pass the Standard written examination with a minimum score of 85%.
  • Highly qualified in horsemanship skills and knowledge of disabilities and demonstrate a strong knowledge of how to address the required issues inherent within each disability.
  • Qualified to teach riders with cognitive &/or physical disabilities up to Level Four horsemanship where applicable.

 IRD Assistant Clinic Instructor (DACI)

  • Minimum twenty-five (25) years of age.
  • Hold current CPR and First Aid certification.
  • Document a minimum of 180 hours of teaching riders with disabilities.
  • Prior to recommendation of assistant clinic instructor must attend a CHA standard clinic achieving at least Level Three instructor certification in one seat with Level One in the other.
  • Pass the IRD written examination with a score of 90% or above.
  • Candidates must apply to CHA for DACI status and must take an additional written examination.

 IRD Clinic Instructor (DCI)

  • Minimum twenty-five (25) years of age. 
  • In addition to above requirements for DACI, receive two recommendations from two separate clinic instructors at different facilities. 
  • Must apply to CHA for Clinic Instructor status. 

SEASONAL EQUESTRIAN STAFF CERTIFICATION

The Seasonal Equestrian Staff Certification (SESC) was developed to meet the needs of seasonal riding program operators, such as summer camps, youth organizations, guest ranches and trail program operators. For Seasonal Equestrian staff participant must be 18 an for Assistant Seasonal Equestrian Staff participant must be 16. The purpose of the SESC program is to provide training and certification for seasonal or temporary riding staff that work under the supervision of a certified instructor or guide.

The SESC program is offered only to the riding staff of a CHA Program Member facility that work under the supervision of a Level 2 or higher CHA certified Instructor or Guide. SESC certification is valid only at the Program Member's facility and is a non-renewable certification. The SESC is conducted in 2-3 days and is staffed by one CHA Clinic Instructor (Standard or Trail), who is assisted by the certified instructor on staff at the facility.

SESC clinics require a minimum of 24 hours of clinic time, excluding meals and rest periods. Participants will take a written test of 50 questions on basic horsemanship and safety, will have a riding skill evaluation, will teach two demonstration lessons and attend required lectures on risk management and teaching techniques. At the end of the clinic, the CHA clinician will complete written reports on each participant, which includes evaluation of safety awareness, horsemanship ability, teaching skills and group control.

CERTIFICATION EARNED: Participants may earn certification as Seasonal Equestrian Staff or Assistant Seasonal Equestrian Staff. This certification is valid only at the CHA Program Member facility where the individual is employed or sponsored and enables them to work only under the supervision of a CHA Certified Instructor or Guide (Level 2 or higher). Participants will be evaluated according to Level 1 or Assistant Standard or Trail horsemanship skills. Seasonal certification is non-renewable and expires at the end of the calendar year.

 

SKILLS WORKSHOP

CHA Skills Workshops are single-day or multi-day events covering:

  1. Any topic covered in any of the CHA Certification Programs, or
  2. How to teach any topic covered in any CHA Certification Program.

All topics taught in CHA Skills Clinics must be of a nature that is generally covered in current CHA Certification Programs.  Topics such as starting colts, round pen reasoning or specific performance level disciplines cannot be currently covered under the auspices of CHA, since CHA does not currently have certifications to support these techniques.

All advertisements for CHA Skills Workshops shall include the content being covered in the clinic and must also include the level at which the clinic is being taught (i.e., Level 1-4).

CHA Skills Workshops may be taught by one or more CHA Certified Instructor(s) with a current certification one level higher than the intended levels to be covered in the clinic. The instructor must receive prior approval from the CHA Program Director to staff a skills workshop. This approval will be part of the clinic application process.

CHA Skills Workshops may be conducted at any suitable facility; the site has to be a CHA Program Member.

An application to conduct a CHA Skills Workshop shall be submitted to the CHA office and referred to the CHA Program Director for final approval. The application will include:

  • A clinic request form
  • A clinic syllabus including workshop content and information on instructor qualifications
  • A reference from a CHA Clinic Instructor addressing the instructor’s suitability to conduct a skills workshop.

The CHA office will maintain a file on the skills workshops that have been approved and conducted. This file shall contain the instructor’s application material only. There will be no official evaluations of participants or the instructor. The instructor may ask for participant evaluations for their own use and may provide CHA certificates of participation to clinic participants. CHA Skills Workshops may count as continuing education credit for certified instructors enrolled in the clinic.

The cost to host a skills clinic is $255, which includes CHA insurance and certificates for par