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Virtual Horse Shows – All Riders to Demonstrate Their Skills at Home

Frustrated by horse show cancellations? You don’t wait for in-person events to resume. Try a virtual horse show. Online horse shows offer a platform for competing at home while having a chance to win prizes and receive constructive feedback.

“Riders have the chance to compete in a low stress environment for the chance to earn cash and receive great constructive critiques,” said Elizabeth Lawhorn, the American Paint Horse Association (APHA) Director of Performance Development. APHA planned to introduce E-Shows in 2020, but moved up the launch date due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Lawhorn offered tips for helping exhibitors prepare for a digital competition.

  • Use the pattern and instructions provided to correctly set up the course.
  • Ensure the exhibitors know their patterns.
  • Video a rider’s run as many times as needed. Riders can use this to their advantage by making sure they’ve stayed on pattern and that the camera person hasn’t accidentally cut off the beginning or end of a run.
  • Read the rules. New virtual shows are being created each week and each have different rules on tack and attire and may differ in their entry and video process.

“That way you know how each one works so that you don’t miss a deadline or get disqualified for something as small as illegal attire or tack,” she said.

Nearly every phone has a built in video camera making it easy to record an entry. Quality video is vital so the judge can clearly and easily see a rider’s performance. Filming horizontally works best.

“We prefer exhibitors shoot the video in landscape, or wider than it is tall,” Lawhorn said. “This makes sure that the subject is as easy to view and judge as possible.”

Zooming when appropriate ensures that the horse and rider are in the frame at all times. If they are videoing in a covered arena, avoid open windows or doors behind the exhibitor when possible. Back lighting makes the subject dark and impossible for the judges to see clearly.

“Online horse shows aren’t designed to replace physical horse shows, but they give exhibitors a low cost option to get out there and show their horse,” she said. “It can even serve as a stepping stone for those exhibitors who are new or getting back into showing, or new to a specific event.”

Katie Navarra is an award-winning writer based in Upstate New York. She regularly covers horses, farming, business and leadership.

horses grazing hay bank

Starting a Hay Bank

By Katie Navarra

Feed and hay bills did not stop even though income evaporated amid the coronavirus pandemic. Organizations across the country offer access to hay banks and A Home For Every Horse helps connect horse owners with those resources.

“The main goal of hay banks is to help people in need keep their horses instead of rehome them,” said Melissa Kitchen, the vice president of marketing services at Active Interest Media (AIM) Equine Network and one of the CHA Educational Partners.  “When times are tough, and people have to worry about how to feed their family, hay banks provide assistance so people don’t have to worry as much.”

A Home for Every Horse, an AIM initiative, works to connect people who contact them with hay banks. Made up of a community of horse rescues, the group is often approached by horse owners looking for resources to help them keep their horses.

Hay banks are one way equine professionals and individuals alike can pitch in when times are tough. Before taking action, investigate to determine if one exists locally. State horse councils, local rescues and extension agencies may have this information. If none are available, the first step is connecting with local resources for hay supply, storage and delivery options.

Fleet of Angels founder Elaine Nash adds that having enough hay available is key.

“If you’re going to advertise a hay bank, have more than 50 or 100 bales,” she said. “Advertise it as emergency horse hay, otherwise people with sheep, goats, cattle and llamas will show up.”

Nash offered additional considerations for establishing hay banks:

  • Source good quality rather than the most expensive hay.
  • Store hay, ideally under a roof, or stack on pallets and covering well.
  • Secure the supply to avoid theft.
  • Have enough space for deliveries and pick-ups.
  • Know the expenses. An out of state supplier may offer a semi-load of hay but shipping often costs are expensive.
  • Confirm the quality and type of hay. “Cow” hay, especially with spots of mold, is unsuitable for horses.

 

Most people are honest, however, Nash recommends a robust screening process to ensure someone is not receiving hay and then reselling it. Once the application is received, Nash follows several steps including:

  • Confirming the address is one where horses can be kept.
  • Looking at the person’s FaceBook page (if available) to see if horses are pictured.
  • Verifying the need with the applicant.

Once you’ve established a hay bank, Kitchen encourages organizers to find key places and people who can help spread the word.

CHA Certified Instructors Share What Their CHA Certification Has Done for Them

By Sarah Evers Conrad and CHA Members Listed Below

CHA Certified Instructors are passionate about their work, their students, and about CHA. We asked several CHA Certified Instructors to share how their CHA Certification has changed their career, and we received some great responses. If you are a CHA Certified Instructor and would like to share “What Your CHA Certification Has Done for You,” please add your story in the comments below.

Dale Rudin, Un-Natural Horsemanship
When I attended my first CHA conference, I knew I had found my tribe. It was like coming home to a place where everyone already knew me, because they thought the same way I did about teaching and horses. That is especially precious to me because I often follow the beat of a vastly different drum than the majority of trainers and instructors I encounter. Coming across someone like-minded is rare enough, but finding an entire organization. CHA was like hitting the jackpot! I felt welcomed and supported by this group of people who ceaselessly strive to do their best for people who want to have a safe and fulfilling equestrian experience and the horses who make that happen. CHA inspires me to be a better instructor and horse person. It is an honor and a gift to be a member.

Amanda Love, West Texas A&M University
As a riding instructor at the college level, my CHA certification has given me one more tremendous outlet for education to share with my students. Our students come from many different riding backgrounds and have professional equine goals that span the spectrum of the horse industry, but CHA is a language that speaks to all horse people. The videos, publications, manuals, and continuing education encourages equine students to be lifelong learners in the horse industry while maintaining the core values of safe, effective and fun experiences with horses.

Cheryl Rohnke Kronsberg, CKR Training Stable
When I got my CHA certification, I thought that I would put in my 40 hours at the clinic and that would be the end of it. I’d have a piece of paper that said I was okie-dokie and I’d be on my way. Yet, as fantastic as the clinic itself was, I never realized that the best was yet to come.

Once I had my certification, I met lots of other certified instructors. They became my friends, mentors, and associates. I have become acquainted with wonderful instructors from all over the world. We have exchanged information and ideas. We have helped each other with training and teaching issues. We have passed along helpful hints and sad stories. Their input has been extremely valuable to me, my staff, clients, and horses.

I never expected to become part of something that is not only helpful to me as an instructor and equine business owner, but as a person. I have learned that I am respected by my peers and that my opinion matters to people. That has increased my self-esteem immeasurably. I have new confidence in myself and my abilities that extends far beyond the barn, arena, and show pen.

Being CHA certified has also opened doors I never even thought about. It has given me opportunities to be a speaker at local and international events. It has given me a chance to write about horses and their people and have those articles published. CHA has given me the chance to meet and learn from some amazingly talented people whom I never would have met without the CHA connection. Those connections have improved my skills as a barn manager, horse owner, trainer, and instructor. I am so much better now than I was before I became certified. I know that growth wouldn’t have happened without CHA. Thank you CHA for being the organization that you are and for letting me join the club.

Tara Gamble, Tara Gamble Horsemanship, CHA Past President
My CHA certification has allowed me to pursue my passion and turn it into a career. From this I am a professional with a successful program and facility. The resources and opportunities CHA has available for instructors is limitless.

Western Dressage

Western Dressage: What Is It, and Could This Benefit Your Program?

By Bradie Chapman

What is Western Dressage?

US Equestrian defines Western Dressage as, “The riding and developing of the western rider and horse to improve themselves as individuals and partners through the use and discipline of dressage.” In 2010, the Western Dressage Association of America (WDAA) was formed and approved by US Equestrian in 2013 as a national affiliate. Under the guidance of US Equestrian, WDAA developed the rules and tests and have maintained the western traditions that have been used over the years and combined this with classical dressage.

Western Dressage provides riders with a plan of progression. The tests are designed to start you at the very beginning in a walk-jog test and then build off of one another until you reach the highest level of test (which is currently Level Four) where you perform pirouettes, flying changes on a serpentine, and 8 meter jog circles. Even if you or your riders don’t want to enter a show arena, it gives you a training guide and things to work on with your equine partner.

Like any discipline, Western Dressage is goal oriented. It provides riders with a plan; if they can achieve a particular movement, then they can move on to the next movement in their training. This can be helpful for riders that aren’t able to be in consistent lessons and also for riders who are in lessons because they know what they need to accomplish to move up the levels.

Overall, Western Dressage can:

  • Help the rider improve the cadence, balance, and carriage of the horse
  • Help the rider utilize the fundamentals of dressage to create suppleness, flexibility, and increase the horse’s ability to work from his haunches
  • Promote the love of the horse and the development of a rewarding partnership between horse and rider
  • Make competitions available to any breed of horse
  • Provide opportunities for students and horses from a variety of disciplines
  • Provide realistic tests that have been designed to be appropriate for each level

Our History and Experience with the Discipline

In 2013 in our program at Ohio University Southern, we introduced Western Dressage to our students. In the same year, two faculty members attended the WDAA Train the Trainers Program to better understand the discipline, rules, and judging standards set forth by the association. In 2014, 10 members from a variety of riding and show experiences began competing at shows outside of our facility. Students currently compete successfully in non-collegiate dressage shows in Ohio and Kentucky. Our equestrian team was also the first collegiate program to compete in the Western Dressage World Championship Show.

We teach our Western courses using the Western Dressage exercises and principles. Our students have a variety of backgrounds entering our program, but through Western Dressage, we can help them to see that the things we work on in class can be applied to what they are doing in their chosen discipline. As instructors we have seen the following:

  • Riders are developing a better understanding of effective communication with their horse.
  • Position and attitude are becoming a focus in their riding.
  • The various tests and movements are providing students with obtainable goals for their riding level, helping them utilize their aids effectively, and strengthening their partnerships with their horses.
  • There is a unity between the horse and rider, with both consistently being relaxed and happy in their work.
  • Our horses are happy in the work because we are allowing them to move in a natural way and not trying to make them fit into a mold.

Since the addition of Western Dressage, we have seen that it has strengthened our riding program by having goals set up by the WDAA that give the students a clear-cut path in their training for their level. We also find that our inexperienced students have admitted that they would not have attempted classical dressage. However, with the option of Western Dressage, these riders are progressing rapidly and competing with much success.

Using Western Dressage in Your Program

Western dressage can be for the everyday rider. You can use the tests to add variety to your current riding plan. In riding different Western Dressage movements, you can work on your horse’s suppleness, attentiveness, and overall communication with your horse. You can progress through the levels of Western Dressage on your own time once you feel that your horse is ready to move on.

In a lesson program, there are many different ways to incorporate the Western Dressage principles. Riders could work on the test in their lessons but then also have the test to take home and study to help prepare for the next lesson. This could help teach them responsibility and preparation in relation to riding and as a life skill. We have riders design exercises that they can teach to the class. These are designed to help them with an issue they are working on with their assigned horse. This activity allows the rider to help problem solve an issue they have been experiencing in their riding and provides them with the opportunity to lead the class.

You may decide, like we did, that this is a good fit for your horses in the show arena. Riders may decide to compete to test their skills at their appropriate level. After the test, a rider will get written comments and scores that can be used to help set goals for the future. Shows may be set up at your home facility on a smaller scale, which will still provide your riders the opportunity to try the sport. If you want to go to bigger shows, you can find WDAA shows at https://westerndressageassociation.org/all-wdaa-recognized-shows. Our students do all of their own fundraising to be able to compete in competitions, whether locally or to the World Show.

Another option we started at our facility is to offer a Western Dressage invitational. Because this sport is new, we offer a show and invite in other collegiate teams, 4-H clubs, and area equine career center programs to encourage more riders to give it a try. Each team has four members and they have a rider compete in the test determined ahead of time (for example: Intro 1 & 3 and Basic 1 & 3). Riders compete individually in their class and after all of the rides are complete; we average the three top scores to determine the team placings. The host team provides the horses and the tack and the others show up the day of to show. We set a limit to the number of teams that can participate. Since our facility hosted the first show of its kind, we have continued to host and have had other facilities follow our lead and host as well.

Western dressage is about the journey you take with your equine partner. There isn’t a set target or given route for all riders to follow to reach their goals, which is what makes riding so exciting and unique. The addition of Western Dressage to the equine industry provides another option for riders.

Bradie Chapman is a CHA Master Instructor, Site Visitor, and Clinic Staff, along with an Associate Lecturer for the Ohio University Southern Equine Studies Program (www.ousequinedegree.com). The OUS facility is an CHA accredited college program that holds CHA Instructor and Equine Facility Manager Certification Clinics for students and the community. For more about Bradie Chapman, visit https://cha.horse/western-dressage-what-is-it-and-could-this-benefit-your-program/.

Keeping Horse Legs Safe

Whether a horse is being used for jumping, eventing, dressage, reining, cattle work, trail riding, riding lessons, camp programs, or just as a pleasure horse, one thing is certain – they work hard, and so do their legs. The legs of a horse are certainly amazing. They take on extreme amounts of stress, bear a lot of weight, can move quickly so that the horse can change directions on a dime or jump over an obstacle, and they are one of the most important parts of the horse. Protecting a horse’s legs is imperative in certain situations, especially if the horse is young and still growing.

Horses that are faced with poor footing, uneven ground, a competition environment, transportation, or have a tendency to stock up (or have their legs swell) while in a stall, can benefit from leg wraps, boots, or bandages. It is important to know when and how to use each kind so that the horse’s legs are protected properly. Using leg wraps and boots incorrectly can cause problems for the horse and could accidentally put more strain on the horse’s legs and cause damage, such as inflammation of the flexor tendon and the flexor tendon sheath, which is sometimes known as the “bandage bow.”

Skid Boots: Skid boots are for use on the hind legs during work, especially if a horse has a tendency to catch one leg with another leg or hoof. They are popular in western events, such as cutting, reining, and cattle work. Skid boots protect the lower legs, fetlock joint, and pasterns.

Bell Boots: Bell boots fit around and underneath the fetlock and Velcro in place. Some can even be pulled on, and these may be used if the ones with Velcro cause chafing or do not fit the horse well. Proper fit means that the rider can put two fingers between the bell boot and the pastern at the top opening, and they should cover the heel bulbs. Bell boots are used when a horse has a tendency of overstepping/overreaching, which could then cause him to catch the back of his front hoof or coronet and cut or bruise himself. In addition, the horse could pull off a shoe, along with part of the hoof. Horses that have studs on their shoes also benefit from the use of bell boots so that the studs do not injure the horse if he catches himself. Bell boots can also be used during turnout or shipping or when being ridden in sloppy footing.

Tendon Boots: These boots have elastic straps across the front and hook closures while padding protects the tendons and ligaments on the sides and backs of the leg from a strike from the back hooves. They are popular among jumpers since the open front helps the horse feel a pole if he strikes it with his foreleg. This allows jumpers to become more careful over jumps. In addition, the open design allows additional air flow. They are only used on the front legs.

Fetlock Boots: These boots are used to protect the fetlocks on the hind legs and may be used with tendon boots. They are also open in the front.

Sports Medicine Boots: These boots can be used during exercise to protect the muscles and tendons, as well as the pastern and fetlock. Sports medicine boots are most commonly used to protect the horse from muscle and tendon strains and sprains, suspensory injuries, and splints. Many riders tend to only put boots on the front legs. However, the hind legs can also be susceptible to injury. In addition, by booting all four legs, support is even on each leg, and it may help the horse bear weight more evenly.

Splint Boots or Brushing Boots: Splint boots or brushing boots help prevent injury during exercise, especially if one hoof strikes an opposite leg, and are easier to put on than wraps. They come in handy with horses that are less coordinated or in training for faster events. They can also be used in turnout, especially if a horse is extra exuberant when playing. They sit right on top of the fetlock joint. Fit and proper placement is important to prevent injury.

To learn how to put on bell boots, sports medicine boots, and splint boots, check out CHA’s Safety Short Video titled “Fitting Horse Boots” on YouTube.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCytFGoBN8g&list=PL148CE9ACCB41CC90&index=3

Polo Wraps: Polo wraps are stretchy, available in various colors and lengths, and help protect the horse’s legs from scrapes, bruises, and irritation from dirt, sand, and other types of arena footing. However, polos, also called track wraps, should not be used during trail riding since burrs and small sticks and debris can become attached to them and then cause the horse irritation as they dig into his skin. They are not recommended for use when putting the horse in a stall for a while or in turnout since they can easily become unraveled and torn if the horse steps on them. Many choose polo wraps over boots since they conform to the leg, and they look nicer than boots. However, if they become wet, they become really heavy for the horse. This can place additional strain on tendons and ligaments. Applying polo wraps incorrectly can also damage the horse’s leg. Polo wraps should be washed often since a dirty polo wrap can also damage a horse’s legs. For proper placement, check out CHA’s video called “How to Put Polo Wraps and Standing Wraps on Horses.”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suH__FlFdM8&list=PL148CE9ACCB41CC90&index=21

Standing Wraps: Standing wraps, also called stable bandages, consist of padding that is wrapped around the horse’s legs using polo wraps. They help protect the horse’s legs, tendons, and ligaments, while the horse is in a stall. Standing wraps can be beneficial if a horse has a tendency to be restless in the stall, or if the horse’s legs tends to stock up (swell) after exercise or while in a stall. They can also be used in shipping, although shipping boots provide better protection. In addition, they can be used for certain injuries, but this should be at the discretion of the veterinarian. Using a wrap can help keep cuts, wounds, and other injuries clean while they heal. In addition, standing wraps are beneficial when poultices or liniments need to be used, again at the discretion of a veterinarian. A veterinarian should advise on the use of standing wraps with any product, since some products can produce excessive heat, thus causing the horse discomfort or pain if used under a wrap. Standing wraps stretch from the bottom of the knee or hock to below the fetlock and are always used with padding.

Shipping Bandages, Boots, or Wraps: Shipping boots, bandages, and wraps are used when trailering and flying to prevent injuries to the legs. Shipping boots and wraps go from the knee or hock down to the hoof. Shipping boots can provide more protection than shipping wraps since they cover the hock and some even have hoof guards. They protect the cannon bones, tendons, fetlocks, pasterns, coronets, and heels. As with other boots, bandages, and wraps, make sure to clean the horse’s legs and the boot and wrap so that the horse does not become irritated from trapped dirt, shavings, or other obstructions. Poorly applied shipping bandages and wraps have the possibility of coming loose and falling off. In addition, they could strain the horse’s legs. Wraps are best for long trips, while boots are great for short trips or for those who do not know how to properly put on a shipping wrap.

It is possible to go on and on about wraps, boots, and bandages. There is a plethora of options on the market, and each company may have a unique take on the design. In addition, the names of boots may vary from discipline to discipline and also differ by country.

The most important thing about using wraps, boots, and bandages is to apply them properly and to use them in the right situations. Proper fit is important as well. It may take trial and error to find the right options for a particular horse, but the benefits are worth the effort. After all, no rider wants to hear that their horse has turned up lame.

Sarah Evers Conrad is currently the Digital Content Editor at Horse Illustrated and Young Rider magazines. She also owns All In Stride Marketing. She is an award-winning equestrian journalist with a background in magazine publishing, feature writing, news and event coverage, editing, digital marketing, social media, and website management. Conrad has been published in equine publications such as The Horse, Blood-Horse, Equestrian, Arabian Horse Life, USDF Connection, the American Quarter Horse Journal, Paint Horse Journal, Off-Track Thoroughbred, Stable Management, Camp Business magazine, Lexington Family magazine, and HorsesDaily.com and DressageDaily.com. She is also the current editor for the Certified Horsemanship Association’s official publication, The Instructor magazine. Conrad has also edited several books, including CHA’s “The Equine Professional Manual—The Art of Teaching Riding.” Learn more at www.equestrianjournalist.com.

Rider Safety Apparel from Head to Toe

By Sarah Evers Conrad

There is no doubt that equestrians are a stylish group. Regardless of whether a person is a Western rider or English, a vaulter or a combined driver, a recreational rider or an active competitor, the apparel for the rider has been designed to be fashionable and suited to the type of riding. However, looking stylish isn’t the only reason for the attire chosen by riders. Equestrian apparel should always be designed with safety in mind. It is important to know what apparel is worn for safety and why and how to choose the appropriate attire.

Many established riders know what they want and need to wear and may choose to order online at various retailers. However, new riders should visit a local tack shop to get the proper attire so that professionals in the tack shop can assist with selection and teach about proper fit.

Let’s discuss the rider’s apparel from head to toe. However, it is important to keep in mind that riders entered into a competition will need to check with that show’s organizing association to determine what clothing is required in the classes they enter.

Helmets: Obviously the helmet is the most important thing a rider needs. It is a fact that saves lives. The Riders4Helmets campaign was designed to educate riders about helmet safety. In 2012, Riders4Helmets won the Certified Horsemanship Association’s Partner in Safety Award. Their website, Riders4Helmets.com, states that there are approximately 100 deaths per year related with equestrian activities with 10-20 times the number of head injuries for every fatality.

To find the safest type of helmet, look for helmets with an ASTM certification in the United States. If a rider is shopping, he or she will know which helmets have an ASTM certification by looking for a tag inside the helmet. Riders in other countries should check to make sure their helmet is certified by the national safety standards in their country.

In addition to looking for a certified helmet, riders should only purchase a new helmet and never borrow or buy a used helmet, since it could have unseen damage. And helmets designed for bike riding or other sports will definitely not provide enough protection for horseback riding.

Proper helmet fit is of utmost importance. To learn more about how to fit a helmet, check out CHA’s video on YouTube.

And for those that need a new helmet, every year on International Helmet Awareness Day, helmet manufacturers offer unique discounts on helmets. This year’s International Helmet Awareness Day is on July 12. Check Riders4Helmets.com for more information on helmets.

One thing to keep in mind is that other head gear while riding or competing, such as a cowboy hat or derby, these types of hats do not offer enough protection in case of a fall. The Certified Horsemanship Association recommends that all riders where helmet while mounted.

Body Protectors: Riders can now protect their torso during a fall with a safety vest or body protector. These lightweight vests can prevent damage to the back and spine, ribs, and internal organs due to the heavy padding. Some vests designed for eventers have a compressed air system that triggers upon impact from a fall. These types of body protectors offer extra protection due to this revolutionary technology. However, eventers aren’t the only type of rider that can wear them. Safety vests are definitely a good idea for jockeys, exercise riders, rodeo riders, jumpers, hunters, polo riders, distance riders, and anyone traveling at high speed. However, pleasure and trail riders may wish for the extra protection as well. There are sizes for children and adults. The vest should be designed for horseback riding, instead of other activities, such as ATV riding. Extra safety certifications are a plus, as well.

Shirts: Riders wear various types of shirts from t-shirts to long-sleeve buttoned shirts. Regardless of the type of shirt, it should fit well and should not be able to catch on the saddle at any time while mounting or dismounting. Long sleeves is a great idea for extra protection from the sun and from brush while trail riding. Make sure to tuck in your shirt and do not wear tank tops.

Jackets: Rain gear may be needed in wet weather. Rain coats should be well-fitted and should not flap in the wind as this may scare a horse. If a slicker is needed, it is always good to prepare the horse to the site of a slicker or other such “scary” clothing. In addition, a jacket may be needed during colder weather.

Jodhpurs, Breeches, and Jeans: Properly fitting pants, whether they are pants designed for riding like jodhpurs and breeches, or whether it is a pair of jeans, can prevent chafing, friction burns, and pinching by the saddle. Jeans can be looser-fitting than breeches and jodhpurs for extra movement. They also should be relatively simple without a lot of extra decoration or zippers that could scratch the saddle, and preferable without an inseam for the most comfort. If a rider wants extra protection for their legs or their lower leg from saddle pinching or from brush on the trail, chaps that fit down the entire leg, and half chaps, which fit on the lower half of the leg, exist. This apparel is usually made out of tough, thick leather or suede, and it acts as a great barrier between the leg and the saddle.

Belts can be worn, however nothing should be attached to them as this could cause the rider to get hung up if something caught on the saddle. Care should be taken when dismounting to prevent a belt from catching on the saddle and causing an accident.

Cell Phones: It is always a good idea to bring a cell phone, which can also be secured in a vest pocket or by an arm band on the left arm if the rider mounts from the horse’s left side. In addition, smartphones with the app named Ride Alert can help those that end up in trouble on a ride. There is a panic button that will cause the phone to send an alert message to a designated friend or family member with the rider’s exact worldwide map location, their phone number and a message that the rider is in trouble. In addition, the app can be set on a different mode that tracks movement, and if movement ceases due to an accident, the information above will be sent to a designated contact unless the rider is okay and can cancel the alert.

Gloves: Gloves can be used for protecting hands from leather or rope burns and blisters and can also improve grip. Plus, gloves are a necessity in cold weather when frostbite might be a concern and in wet weather when a rider has slippery reins and tack. Gloves are also helpful if a horse is a strong puller or has a nasty habit of jerking his head and jerking the reins out of the rider’s hands. When trail riding, gloves can also protect hands from branches and debris if a log or other obstruction must be removed from across a trail or when opening gates.

Boots: And finally we come down to feet. Boots are also essential for riding, and they should be sturdy enough to support the ankle and to protect the toes and top of the foot in case a horse accidentally steps on your foot. Trust me…I have had this happen when I had less sturdy footwear on, and it really hurts and is totally avoidable. Boots should have a flat heel of at least one inch. Obviously high heels don’t apply. Boots protect riders from mud, water, rocks, and course brush while being on the trail or around the farm. So no tennis shoes, hiking boots, snow boots, sandals or flip flops around horses please.

With the right apparel, riders should be safer from the effects of a fall or accident. While no type of apparel is fool-proof from keeping a rider from total injury, opting for safer attire can certainly decrease the risk of something going wrong on a ride.

Extra Helmet Information

Obviously the helmet is the most important thing a rider needs. It is a fact that saves lives. The Riders4Helmets campaign was designed to educate riders about helmet safety. In 2012, Riders4Helmets won the Certified Horsemanship Association’s Partner in Safety Award. Their website, Riders4Helmets.com, states that there are approximately 100 deaths per year related with equestrian activities with 10-20 times the number of head injuries for every fatality.

To find the safest type of helmet, look for helmets with an ASTM certification in the United States. If a rider is shopping, he or she will know which helmets have an ASTM certification by looking for a tag inside the helmet. Riders in other countries should check to make sure their helmet is certified by the national safety standards in their country.

In the United States, helmets with an ASTM certification have been designed and tested for the utmost safety. Riders4Helmets.com helps riders find ASTM certified helmets: “If you reside in the USA and would like to see a current list of helmets certified by the Safety Equipment Institute to ASTM standard F1163, please go to www.seinet.org and click on ‘Certified Products,’ then click on ‘Equestrian Helmets.'” In addition, helmets with an approved certification by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) for international competition should be a safe helmet.

If a rider is shopping, he or she will know which helmets have an ASTM certification by looking for a tag inside the helmet. Riders in other countries should check to make sure their helmet is certified by the national safety standards in their country.

In addition to looking for a certified helmet, riders should only purchase a new helmet. Used helmets for sale should be avoided since they could have damage inside that is not detectable by the purchaser. In addition, borrowing a helmet is discouraged since a borrowed helmet hasn’t been fitted to that rider. And helmets designed for bike riding or other sports will definitely not provide enough protection for horseback riding.

Proper helmet fit is of utmost importance. Riders can get professional helmet fitting at a tack shop or helmet distributor. The helmet’s visor should be about 1-1 1/2 inches from the rider’s eyebrows and should be parallel with the ground. It should be snug on the head without being too tight and not move when a rider shakes their head side to side or up and down or if the rider can shift the helmet with their hands. Riders should be able to breathe easily and straps should not add to much pressure on the head. All straps must be fastened securely so that a helmet does not come off during a fall. If the helmet comes off before the head hits the ground, then a concussion can result.

Proper care is important for helmets. See the manufacturer’s instructions for that helmet model. Any helmet that has been in an accident or fallen or been dropped should be replaced since it could be compromised. In addition, the material inside the helmet can break down with time, so it should be replaced every five years. Every year on International Helmet Awareness Day, helmet manufacturers work with Riders4Helmets to offer unique discounts on helmets only seen on that day. This year’s International Helmet Awareness Day is on July 12. Check Riders4Helmets.com/ihad for more information.

Sarah Evers Conrad is currently the Digital Content Editor at Horse Illustrated and Young Rider magazines. She also owns All In Stride Marketing. She is an award-winning equestrian journalist with a background in magazine publishing, feature writing, news and event coverage, editing, digital marketing, social media, and website management. Conrad has been published in equine publications such as The Horse, Blood-Horse, Equestrian, Arabian Horse Life, USDF Connection, the American Quarter Horse Journal, Paint Horse Journal, Off-Track Thoroughbred, Stable Management, Camp Business magazine, Lexington Family magazine, and HorsesDaily.com and DressageDaily.com. She is also the current editor for the Certified Horsemanship Association’s official publication, The Instructor magazine. Conrad has also edited several books, including CHA’s “The Equine Professional Manual—The Art of Teaching Riding.” Learn more at HYPERLINK “http://www.equestrianjournalist.com” www.equestrianjournalist.com.

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Reasons to Become Certified Through CHA

Any instructor that wants to become a CHA Certified Instructor must be a member. Upon certification, additional benefits open up to the CHA member.

Why CHA Certification vs. Another

CHA is well respected. CHA has rigorous standards for instructor certification, which involves a certification clinic, etc.

Clients will know you knowledgeable in five areas you are tested on. These are: safety, horsemanship knowledge and ability, teaching techniques, group control, and responsibility and professionalism.

The organization will make sure you are certified at the correct level.

Committed professional who has paid money to keep certification active.

Hands on clinics and workshops available.

If you are an Individual Member that has also become Certified, then this can put any potential client’s concerns at ease since an organization has verified your skill level and knowledge of how to teach and your attentiveness to safety. CHA membership AND certification gives you an extra level of credibility as an equine professional.

If you are an Individual Member that has also become Certified, it can help you convince a potential client that is on the fence about which instructor to choose that you are the right one. In one of our earliest blog posts, we discussed why riders should find a certified riding instructor. If you are a certified riding instructor through CHA, you fit all of those reasons. If you have a potential student that is wondering why they should go with you, just break out this list of reasons, and going with you becomes a no-brainer. http://cha-ahse.org/store/blog/why_a_certified_instructor.html

Preparing the Lesson Horse for Inexperienced or Nervous Riders

By Leigh Cooper

A reliable school horse is essential to any lesson program. Riding instructors tasked with teaching beginners need horses that are well-rounded enough to safely accommodate riders of a wide range of abilities. Horses that are relaxed around novice riders are hard to come by, but they are integral to a rider’s early education as they allow for a safe learning environment. Preparation is key in setting a lesson horse up for success.

All riders work to be as quiet as possible with the aids. More experienced riders who have achieved the ability to use quiet aids can limit the horse’s exposure to a rider that is outside their realm of expertise. Therefore, if a horse that is used to being ridden by a quiet rider is to be used as a lesson horse, it’s important to work with him to prepare him for a less experienced or nervous rider. We will describe exercises that can help do this, but we will split our riders into two categories: the inexperienced rider and the nervous rider.

The Inexperienced Rider

The approach in teaching a horse to be patient with an inexperienced rider is for an experienced rider to imitate these types of riders for a session, test out how the horse reacts, and address any feedback from the horse that reveals whether or not he is ready for these types of riders. This exercise can be utilized with horses that are entering a lesson program or as a test for privately owned horses to be assessed by a trainer to see if they are ready for another rider’s current ability. The goal is not to desensitize the horse to our cues, but instead to help the horse understand he or she does not have to fear or overreact to variations in cues from different riders.

For safety, use a round pen or an enclosed space without obstacles. And always see how the horse reacts at the walk first before moving up in gait. Start by creating what the horse may encounter with an inexperienced rider. These riders often have unrefined cues, bounce at the trot, or occasionally lose a stirrup. Steering may still be a work in progress, the reins may flap, and cues may be abrupt and unforgiving. During this exercise, keep in mind that bigger is better.

Typically, a bigger cue means more from the horse, and that’s fine. What we don’t want is for the horse to think big cues are scary. Look for tension in the horse—quick, jerky movements, shying, or a high head are signs the horse is uncomfortable and nervous about what the rider is doing on his back. Use this as a starting point, and build the horse’s confidence from there. For example, if the horse is afraid of the rider with flapping arms, keep waving your arms and then scratch the horse’s neck in rhythm, having him associate the waving with a reward.

If the horse reads big or loud cues as “go fast,” give those cues and then immediately quiet your body, letting the horse come back down to the stop naturally without using the reins. Reward the horse by letting him stand and rest. Here the recovery is the test. How long did it take the horse to come back down to the stop? Did the loud rider make the horse run out of control with no hope of slowing down? If the horse does not want to slow down off a relaxed seat in the saddle, reinforce this aid by tilting his head into a gradually smaller circle to help him figure it out. Keep in mind that the reins should be the last resort to stopping the horse during this exercise.

For inexperienced riders, rein management can be difficult, especially in an emergency, so the lesson horse needs to be able to regulate his speed on his own and slow down if the rider gets in a bind. Pretty soon, the horse will realize that the rider may be doing all sorts of interesting movements on his back, but his job is to not overreact.

The Nervous Rider

To acclimate a horse to nervous riders, consider how the nervous rider acts and how these messages are perceived by the horse. A horse that is mostly used to experienced riders may be used to an active seat, one that allows for freedom of movement. However, nervous riders are often tense with hunched shoulders, tight legs, and have an unforgiving grip on the reins. These conflicting messages create a considerable amount of pressure on the horse.

Therefore, with this exercise, start small by riding with a tense body. A tense body doesn’t move with the horse, but it does create an energy that the horse often reads as “go forward.” Reassure the horse that when stiffness from the rider is felt, they need to check in and slow down.

Begin by practicing this at the walk. If the horse speeds up, tip their nose into a circle and gradually spiral them in until they stop. When the horse relaxes, reward him with a scratch on the neck. Here the horse’s default should be to slow down and think instead of escalating the situation, because a faster gait from the horse may cause further tension from an already nervous rider. Once the horse has proven that he is able to handle this, continue to layer on the nervous rider mannerisms.

Keep lessons short. We don’t want to deaden the horse to our cues, but it’s important to know how he would react if faced with these types of riders. Also keep in mind, some horses simply do not feel comfortable with the amount of pressure a nervous rider may put on them, no matter how much prep work we give them. In such cases, it’s good to know a horse’s boundaries to avoid putting a rider in danger.

The more you expose the horse to by imitating inexperienced or nervous riders, the safer you are making the horse for any future riders. In the end, you will set the horse up for success as a valued partner in your lesson program and throughout his life.

Wears Valley - How to find the best horseback riding camp near me

How to Find the Best Horse Camp

By Sarah Evers Conrad

Is everybody as ready for warm weather as I am? I am also ready to enjoy all of the great outdoor activities in spring and summer. Now is the time of year that people start planning their spring and summer events, vacations, and other special things they want to do. This is also the time of year when many people start looking toward planning a camp experience for their child, themselves, or their family.

Now is the time to figure out which camp you want to use and get registered. The Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA) accredits equine facilities, such as stables at camps, and CHA also accredits camp staff that are involved with the camp’s equestrian program. You can’t go wrong with going to a camp that has an accreditation or a staff with certification from CHA.

Finding a possible camp involves some options that were discussed in our last blog post, “Attending a Camp with Horseback Riding.” The first step to finding a camp that is right for you is to consider the options discussed at the link above to figure out what is most appealing to the camp attendee(s).

And if you haven’t looked up any camps yet, then visit www.CHAInstructors.com to find camps accredited by CHA or camps that have CHA certified instructors involved in their programs. Use the search on the left with the keyword “camp” in the Query box. Once you have some options, the next thing to do is evaluate your options.

Things to Look for in an Equestrian Camp Program

To evaluate a camp that you have under consideration, many of the points made in a previous post on how to find the right riding instructor would apply. In addition, the tips below can help you make your final choice.

Add Link to http://cha-ahse.org/store/blog/choosing_an_instructor.html.

– If you want a camp focused around only equestrian activities, then some camps do cater to this. They might focus on a particular discipline (like jumping, dressage, distance riding, rodeo, etc.) or be focused around a particular breed of horse. However, these are usually geared toward those who have ridden to some extent or to more advanced riders.

Those who have never ridden may find it difficult to spend many hours or most of the day in the saddle. And those who have never been to camp before may want to have a more balanced camp experience with other non-equine related activities. These multi-activity camps should have other activities in addition to equestrian activities. Options might include: arts and crafts, swimming, tennis, games, contests, volleyball, canoeing or rafting, biking, drama, music, computer activities, camp fires, hay rides, field trips to local tourist or educational places, camping in the great outdoors, etc.

– Most camps with equestrian activities will make sure riders learn basic western riding skills or hunter/jumper riding, or both. However, riding shouldn’t be the only equine activities. Educational activities that revolve around horse care and horsemanship should be included. Campers might be taught how to take care of horses, clean tack, braid and bandage, and how to saddle and bridle. In addition, they can learn about the various breeds of horses, equestrian sports, the equestrian lifestyle, etc. Teaching might be through watching videos, lectures, or through hands-on activities. Hands-on activities might even include being assigned to care for one particular horse, such as feeding, watering, grooming, turnout, and mucking that horse’s stall. In addition, the camp may include horse-related games and events, demonstrations, movie nights, trail rides, gymkhanas or small shows, field trips, etc.

– Hopefully, you will be able to tour the camp in advance to determine if it is the right camp for you or your child. And if you are not a horse person, try to take along a friend that has experience with horses to evaluate the riding program and the facility. In addition to the overall feel, you will want to keep CHA’s motto in mind: Safe, Effective, and Fun.

Safety: Are all facilities safe? Obviously, this includes living and dining facilities, barns, classrooms, gates, fences, roads, pools, sports courts, etc. A rundown facility is a red flag, although if you happen to tour in an “off season,” keep this in mind. Is there a lot of clutter, or is everything organized and in its place? Are bunks and bathrooms safe and resistant to the elements (i.e., no leaky roofs)? Is the dining area and kitchen safe, and are meals prepared according to food safety guidelines? Does the camp use quality ingredients in their food, and how fresh are items served at mealtimes and snack times?

Are facilities clean, especially the bunks, bathrooms, kitchen, and dining hall, barns, and stalls? Even horses need clean living quarters and should not look like they are living in stalls that have not been mucked for days. Do horses look healthy and in good body condition and have well-cared-for feet? And are they suited for the types of riders that will be assigned to them? Are they well-trained, experienced with all types of riders, and are they what us riders call “bomb-proof” (aka, spook-proof)? Is all tack well-cared-for, clean, and in good repair?

Is a medical professional on staff, and does staff know CPR and first aid? Are there first aid kits, fire extinguishers, and emergency phone numbers available? If the camp takes campers with special needs, how do they meet those special needs, and what accommodations are made? Have they had any major accidents and how do they deal with both major and minor accidents and injuries? When are parents contacted?

Do they require helmets at all times when mounted and during any unmounted times? Do they provide helmets? Even if they provide helmets, you will want to buy one for the camp-goer because then the helmet is fitted perfectly for the rider. This is because a camp may not have the correct number of helmets for riders of a particular head size, leading them to provide a helmet that is not the best fit. In addition, you have no idea of the history of a helmet, and would not know if it has been dropped or been in a minor accident, which would mean its safety had been compromised. This is also true of helmets that are past a certain age, since the internal parts of a helmet begin breaking down with time. Therefore, a borrowed helmet is not the best in case of an accident. However, helmets from the camp could act as a back-up in case your child’s helmet is damaged or lost.

Honestly I could go on and on about safety. At least if you are visiting an accredited facility through CHA or through the ACA, then you know certain standards are already being met. You may want to validate how current the certification is, and if the camp ever had any revocations of their accreditation or any licenses. For more specifics on those standards, contact the accrediting organization. If it is not accredited, you may want to ask why they have not sought accreditation, and what other laws and regulations must they follow? How well are these requirements met, and have there been any violations?

And finally, do you feel safe sending your child here? After all, if you have specific doubts, or even ones you can’t pinpoint, but you have an unsettled feeling, then maybe your instincts are trying to tell you something.

Effectiveness: Are personnel and instructors trained in what they are teaching? How much teaching and horse experience do they have? How much experience does staff have working for a camp or equine facility? What do campers learn while they are there? Do campers have set goals or milestones set by the camp or set by the camper themselves? How many reach these goals? What is the return rate? Can you talk to previous campers for testimonials?

You will want to talk to the employees, if you can. Does the staff have a good attitude about the camp and their employer? How many camp employees and volunteers were once campers? This may give a clue to how well loved the place is and how loyal campers are. How is staff found and what guidelines are used to actually hire applicants? How are horses “vetted” and chosen for the program? Are parents welcome to visit? Has the camp or any of its staff won any professional awards? Can the camp claim any past attendees who became famous riders, horsemen or horsewomen, or upstanding citizens? What was the camp’s role in this person’s success?

Fun: One major key to a camp’s success and suitability is showcased in its campers’ faces. If you visit during a session, do campers look happy and like they are having fun? If there are candid photos anywhere, such as hanging on walls or on the camp’s website, or on its Facebook, Instagram, or Flickr accounts? As long as they are candid and not posed shots, then these photos can give a clue to the environment and whether campers are engaged and having fun. What do past campers say about the place in official testimonials, through any official organizations it belongs to, or on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, or other social media sites? Perform an Internet search using various keywords to get an overall feel for the camp’s reputation, quality, and to look for any “red flags.” Is the camp rated on any websites? Does it have any current or past complaints against it, especially through a search on the Better Business Bureau website or through any other organizations it may belong to? How is the food there? Feel free to taste test if you dare, and if you are allowed to while you are there. Does the camp seem like the right fit for the possible attendee(s)?

While this post and the one about choosing a riding instructor offer a lot of questions to ask and suggest a lot of things to observe, these things can be important if one is going to leave home and attend camp. After all, picking the right camp can make for an amazing experience full of personal and social growth. But choosing a camp that might not stack up could make for a miserable experience. And if a child is the one going and if he or she has a bad time, then he or she may never want to go to camp again. So take your time, use a CHA accredited facility or one with CHA-certified staff, and look at all aspects before you decide. And then go, or send your child, knowing that you did the best you could to pick the right camp.

We would love to hear about your camp experiences. Feel free to comment below if you have had some great camp experiences in the past, or if you go this year, please come back and let us know how it went. And don’t forget to share all about the horsemanship and riding opportunities and experiences. And if you have any other suggestions for questions to ask at a camp or things to think about, feel free to add a comment below for your fellow readers.

Sarah Evers Conrad is currently the Digital Content Editor at Horse Illustrated and Young Rider magazines. She also owns All In Stride Marketing. She is an award-winning equestrian journalist with a background in magazine publishing, feature writing, news and event coverage, editing, digital marketing, social media, and website management. Conrad has been published in equine publications such as The Horse, Blood-Horse, Equestrian, Arabian Horse Life, USDF Connection, the American Quarter Horse Journal, Paint Horse Journal, Off-Track Thoroughbred, Stable Management, Camp Business magazine, Lexington Family magazine, and HorsesDaily.com and DressageDaily.com. She is also the current editor for the Certified Horsemanship Association’s official publication, The Instructor magazine. Conrad has also edited several books, including CHA’s “The Equine Professional Manual—The Art of Teaching Riding.” Learn more at www.equestrianjournalist.com.

How to Increase Safety for You and Your Horse with the Right Equipment

By Sarah Evers Conrad

If you have been around horses at all, you may already know that if a horse can find a way to hurt himself, he will. Last week we looked at rider safety apparel. This week, we will look at equipment that is used on horses that help keep the horse safe and in good health. Because after all, we want our rides to always be Safe, Effective, and Fun.

It is important that all tack be well-fitted to the horse and rider, should be in good condition, and be well-cared-for and maintained. Tack should be inspected each time it is used to make sure nothing has become frayed, worn, or become unsafe in any way. Of course, a visual inspection should take place before placing any equipment on the horse. Before the rider mounts, he or she should also perform a tack safety check. To learn how to do this, check out CHA’s video titled, “How to Perform a Safety Check of a Horse” on YouTube.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vj9OwCeyPUY&list=PL148CE9ACCB41CC90&index=6

Of course, it is important to always make sure any piece of tack fits correctly and is being used correctly. The rider should understand the mechanics of how all equipment is used. When used correctly, tack can be used with great effectiveness. However, if tack is used improperly, it can cause harm to the horse, even if unintentional. If in doubt about the use of a certain piece of equipment, a CHA instructor can be of great help.

Breakaway halters: One thing to remember is that all halters should fit well and not rub or be so loose that a horse can get hung up on anything or get a hoof caught if he goes to scratch his head. Leather halters tend to have the ability to break if needed. Nylon breakaway halters feature a leather crown piece or a connector piece on the buckle that can break.

For safety reasons, it is best to always remove halters during turnout due to the risk of a horse getting caught on something. However, if a handler needs to turn a horse out with a halter still on, then the halter should be a breakaway halter. Otherwise a horse can seriously injure himself as he tries to get loose, especially if he panics. He could also flip over or become tangled in his fight to get free.

While there are two schools of thought on using breakaway halters when tying a horse, the Certified Horsemanship Association generally recommends that a breakaway is not used. This is because if one is used and a horse gets loose, that loose horse becomes a danger to himself and any nearby animals and people. However, if a horse is known to consistently pull back forcefully enough when tied, then he becomes a danger to himself and a breakaway halter may be warranted. However, a better option for this type of horse is to never tie him. Instead, he should be held by a handler until training can deal with this dangerous vice.

Reins: For inexperienced riders, one type of rein that is of benefit is closed loop reins. These consist of a buckle that allows the two reins to attach so that if a rider drops the reins, they fall on the horse’s neck in front of the saddle instead of to the ground.

Reins that offer better grip can help when the reins get slippery from either rain or the horse’s sweat. Rubber reins, some nylon reins, and braided leather reins offer more traction and grip than smooth leather reins. There is nothing wrong with smoother reins, but for when a better grip is needed, then rubber or braided leather is helpful. Eventually rubber reins deteriorate and will need to be replaced, so the rider needs to inspect these reins each time they are used.

Breastplate or Breast Collar: A breastplate or breast collar is used to prevent a saddle from slipping backwards. They are helpful for horses with flat sides or those who are extra round. Breastplates can be used in both English and Western riding, racing, polo, endurance riding, with gaited horses, and in driving when only a light amount of weight is being pulled. They are very popular with trail riders so that saddles do not slide backwards when going uphill and with horses that rack. In many types of breastplates, one piece connects at the middle of the girth and runs up to the middle of the horse’s chest, where it branches into two, with a piece on each side running from the middle of the horse’s chest up to connect to the dee-rings or the billets of the saddle. Where it connects depends upon the style of the breastplate or breast collar and the discipline being ridden. The material that goes across the chest can vary from leather, to elastic, to webbing, etc. Some breast collars attach to the front branch of a split-end girth, instead of the dee- rings or billets. This type is often used in jumping, eventing, or polo. The rider will want to make sure that the horse’s shoulder movement is not restricted and that any breastplate or breast collar does not rub. And most importantly, if any piece runs higher across the chest near the neck, it should not restrict the windpipe. To learn more about using a breastplate or breast collar, check out CHA’s Safety Short Video called “Breast Collar and Back Cinch Correct Fit.”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NplvOzqXgzU&list=PL148CE9ACCB41CC90&index=5

Back Cinch: A back cinch is used with Western saddles to add stability when going up and down hills and for cattle events. Imagine the force that is exerted on the horn of a saddle when a rider ropes a calf in competition and the horse sets back and prevents that calf from running off. Without the use of a rear cinch, that rider may find himself or herself catapulted out of the saddle as the force pulls on the horn. A back cinch should never be so loose that a horse can get a leg caught when stamping at flies, etc.

Safety Stirrups: Safety stirrups were developed for increased safety in the event of a fall by the rider. They are designed to prevent the rider’s foot from being caught during a fall, which could lead to a rider hanging from the saddle or being dragged by the horse. Instead, under the right pressure, part of the stirrup will “break away” or allow the foot to become free during the course of a fall. There are various designs to safety stirrups, with some even looking like non-safety stirrups. One popular kind, the Peacock stirrup, is designed so the outside part breaks away when sufficient pressure is felt. The Peacock stirrup looks like a stirrup with a “rubber band” on the outside edge, however the material involved is sturdy enough to hold in place during riding.

Tapaderos: The tapadero consists of a thick piece of material, usually leather, plastic, or mesh, which forms a barrier over the rider’s foot and toes and attaches to the stirrup, usually of a Western or endurance saddle. Sometimes they are referred to as “hooded stirrups.” There are also tapaderos for English stirrups, which can usually be removed when not needed. This optional piece of equipment is often used for safety to keep the rider’s foot from unintentionally slipping through the stirrup, thus causing an accident or causing the rider to hang from the stirrup in the case of a fall. Some riding instructors will use these as extra precaution with young or inexperienced riders. They can also prevent brush from getting caught on a stirrup or catching a rider’s foot when a rider is trail riding or working cattle or sheep. They can also help keep the foot a bit warmer in cold weather or protect against wet weather. Some sellers of tapadero stirrups even promote benefits for the rider, claiming that they help with fatigue through the knees and back or for those with foot, knee, or lower back problems.    

Saddle Blanket, Saddle Pad, and Saddle Cloth: Saddle blankets, pads, and clothes refer to any material placed between the saddle and the horse. While they are used to increase comfort, as shock absorption, and to protect the horse’s back, a well-fitted saddle that has been fit to the horse should not cause discomfort or sores. It is important to keep in mind that sometimes saddle sores can be caused by other issues other than poor saddle fit, such as dirt trapped under the pad, hair not brushed flat before saddling, extreme sweating, etc. Sometimes saddle pads can help with minor fitting problems, especially in a barn where each horse does not have his own saddle. Some are designed to help lift the saddle off of the withers or to elevate the seat. However, a saddle that is a really bad fit for the horse will not have fit improved by the use of one or two saddle pads or saddle clothes; they can even make the fit worse. Saddle blankets, pads, and clothes also absorb sweat and keep the saddle clean and dry.

From thinner pieces of material as a saddle cloth to thick pieces of padding covered in heavy-duty fabric for Western saddles, the style, design, durability, ease of cleaning, performance, and comfort level can vary a great deal. They can consist of cotton, wool, sheepskin, leather, suede, felt, fleece, nylon, rubber, foam, gel, synthetic materials…the sky is the limit. While a heavy saddle pad might look like the most comfortable to use, they do have some disadvantages. They can slip and slide, sometimes put pressure on the horse’s back where not intended, and can bunch if the person that tacked the horse did not place it carefully. Saddle pads, blankets, and clothes should always fit well on the horse and with the saddle being used.

Obviously, the horse’s legs are often in need of protection. We will discuss boots, wraps, and bandages next time. In the meantime, if you are unsure about the tack and equipment being used, checking with a CHA professional or other experienced horseman could help you to use your equipment more effectively and with increased safety and comfort for you and your horse.

We are curious, have you had a piece of safety equipment save you or your horse from injury? Please share with us in the comments below.

Sarah Evers Conrad is currently the Digital Content Editor at Horse Illustrated and Young Rider magazines. She also owns All In Stride Marketing. She is an award-winning equestrian journalist with a background in magazine publishing, feature writing, news and event coverage, editing, digital marketing, social media, and website management. Conrad has been published in equine publications such as The Horse, Blood-Horse, Equestrian, Arabian Horse Life, USDF Connection, the American Quarter Horse Journal, Paint Horse Journal, Off-Track Thoroughbred, Stable Management, Camp Business magazine, Lexington Family magazine, and HorsesDaily.com and DressageDaily.com. She is also the current editor for the Certified Horsemanship Association’s official publication, The Instructor magazine. Conrad has also edited several books, including CHA’s “The Equine Professional Manual—The Art of Teaching Riding.” Learn more at www.equestrianjournalist.com.

Fire Safety & Wildlife Evacuation with Horses

The Certified Horsemanship Association compiled some common tips about wildfire evacuation with horses. By no means is this a comprehensive list, but a starting point to get you thinking ahead. When in doubt, evacuate early.

Things to Do Now

Use this time to do the following:

  • Practice loading and unloading your horses
  • Get your truck and trailer(s) serviced
  • Make sure you have enough halters, hay bags, water buckets, ID tags, etc.
  • Obtain current health records for all horses that will be riding on your trailers and store copies in trailer.
  • Consult with Fire Authority
  • When There is a Red Flag Warning

Use this as your cue to do the following:

  • Check air pressure in the tires in your truck and trailer.
  • Gas up your truck.
  • Check lights on truck and trailer
  • Check connections on truck & trailer
  • Prepare hay bags
  • Load clean water buckets, copies of health reports onto trailer
  • Add ID to halters and place halters and lead ropes onto stall doors.
  • Discuss plan of action, shifts, etc. with barn mates
  • Contact at least 2 barns you can evacuate to

Evacuation Warning/Voluntary Evacuations

  • Use this as your cue to do the following:
  • Load your horses
  • Call your evacuation destination
  • Evacuate to your evacuation destination
  • Send your advance team to the Evacuation destination to assist with unloading horses & getting them situated.

Finding a Good Lesson Horse

By Sarah Evers Conrad

A good lesson horse is worth its weight in gold. Once you find a good horse for your lesson program, then you need to hang on to that horse, keep up on all necessary health care, and make sure he stays healthy and happy. Good horses are the cornerstone to a lesson barn’s program. After all, the horses are what help lesson barns make money. And good horses are what bring riding students/customers back, in addition to quality instruction. The first thing to do when looking for a good lesson horse is to think about what type of horse you need. Ask yourself:

  • Does the horse need to be bigger or smaller? If only adults will be riding the horse, then a bigger horse may be needed. If it will be mostly young children, you may want to look for a smaller horse or a pony. A larger horse that is a good lesson horse can be used for children, but some children may find a larger horse intimidating.
  • What level lesson horse do I need? If you need a horse for beginners, see the list below. If you need a more advanced lesson horse, then the requirements will be different, and you will need to evaluate the horse’s ability to take a rider to the next level.
  • What will I be doing with the lesson horse? Will it be used to teach riders that will become hunter/jumpers, dressage riders, western pleasure, reiners, etc.? If so, then the horse should be suited for that discipline in their temperament and conformation and should understand the basic training of that discipline or have the ability to be taught quickly.
  • What will I do with the horse if he suddenly becomes unusable as a lesson horse? It’s always good to think about the options for a horse once they no longer suit the original purpose for which you purchased him. What type of second, or third, or fourth career would the horse be suited to if they are no longer a lesson horse? What retirement options would suit that horse, and what can you provide?
  • What possible resale value will the horse have if you no longer need it? While most instructors, and horse owners, look at the horse as it should be viewed, a living creature to be loved on and cherished, there is also the practical side of a horse purchase for an equine business. Each horse is also an investment and hopefully an asset to your lesson program. If you find yourself needing to sell the horse, then how will that affect your bottom line and can you re-coop any costs from the original purchase? We always want the horse to go to a good home if the barn decides to sell him. Think about what options are possible for any horse you purchase.

Many good lesson horses have similar qualities. These are the key qualities that every lesson horse should have, especially those that deal with beginners.

  • Forgiving. Lesson horses deal with riders who often do not know what they are doing. If a rider gives an incorrect cue, will the horse forgive the mistake and still keep the rider safe? While most riders are not trying to harm a horse when they learn, inadvertent kicks and tugs on the mouth or a rider who is off balance will happen to the lesson horse. If a horse is kicked or has a rider that accidentally yanks on the mouth, will that horse remain calm? This is the type of horse you want while you are teaching your beginning students how to ride correctly.
  • Patience. If a rider gives opposing cues, such as a cue to walk on while also telling the horse to stop, will the horse wait for the rider to figure it out? Many great lesson horses will wait until a rider gives the correct cue, or something close to it before rewarding the rider with the correct action, thus teaching the rider what cue gets the desired results.
  • Manners and Quietness. You will want a calm and quiet lesson horse that can deal with the chaos of group lessons and the rush of getting students to tack up their horses and mounted. The lesson horse should always be well-behaved. Horse people call this bomb-proof. Obviously a horse that flips out at the sight of a flag or an umbrella will not make a good lesson horse at that time. Perhaps that horse just needs some training. However, with horse training there are no guaranteed results, so it is best to find a horse that already has ground manners and manners while mounted.
  • No vices. You don’t want a horse that weaves in the stall, usually out of frustration or boredom, if the horse will be stabled part of the day awaiting lessons. Obviously you don’t want a horse that tends to bite, bolt, kick other horses, shy, or that does any other negative actions. Most vices can be dangerous, and paired with inexperienced riders, this can be a recipe for disaster.
  • Good Health. You will want a healthy horse…one that is not prone to heaves or tying up or other chronic health conditions. If your lesson horse is prone to an illness, then you are losing money on that horse if he cannot be used in lessons, and you will also need to spend money on veterinary costs to get the horse past the illness. One way to ensure that a horse is healthy at the time of purchase is to have a veterinarian do a pre-purchase exam. Many experienced horsemen and horsewomen will not purchase without having a pre-purchase exam done.
  • Soundness. You want to make sure your lesson horse can handle being ridden daily or sometimes multiple times in one day. Ask about his past issues and whether he has had regular farrier care. Has he had any leg or hoof issues? The pre-purchase exam can also find any hoof or soundness issues.
  • Good conformation. Try to find the soundest, most conformationally correct horse you can. A horse with good conformation will be able to handle his job and the day-to-day of a lesson barn. A horse with conformation issues may become prone to injury or soreness, which is the last thing you want with a lesson horse. In addition, if the lesson horse is to be a show horse, you don’t want him being dinged for conformation faults, causing your student to not do as well in the show ring.
  • Age and Experience. Typically, older horses make good lesson horses. The lesson horse needs to have some life experience and have been presented with different situations so that they are dependable in all situations. Many people purchasing a horse look for younger horses, but with a horse that will be used for lessons, there is nothing wrong with purchasing a 15-year-old or older horse. Of course, if a horse is in his 20s, he could still be a good lesson horse, but you should be prepared for the horse to near retirement at any point. That is hard to predict, however.
  • Flexible and Versatile. The horse that can be versatile and be ridden both English and western, and possibly other disciplines, makes him more valuable. Regarding flexibility, we aren’t talking about how far the horse can stretch in one direction. A flexible horse can adapt to any rider, regardless of the riding style, riding ability, experience level, etc.
  • Dependable and Trustworthy. You need to be able to trust all of your lesson horses. You won’t see a trustworthy, dependable horse acting naughty and trying to get away with things, even if they are paired with an inexperienced rider. A dependable horse will take care of the rider, have common sense, a kind attitude, and be willing to please.

While there is no such thing as a perfect horse, a good lesson horse is usually a bit of a saint. So many take so much, try so hard, and love and are loved by many. Many riders progress past lessons and on to either own their own horse, compete in horse shows or in intercollegiate competition, specialize in a particular breed or discipline, etc. Yet, despite moving on, most riders who have taken lessons remember their favorite horses. For me, it was Jazzy, Imperial, Buckley, Bobby, Slick, and Bullet. Once a rider moves on, the lesson horse continues on, showing up every day to teach another round of students. These are the horses to find and hold on to.

CHA would love to hear what made your favorite lesson horse great. Feel free to share that horse’s name and why you loved him or her. We look forward to hearing your stories.

Sarah Evers Conrad is currently the Digital Content Editor at Horse Illustrated and Young Rider magazines. She also owns All In Stride Marketing. She is an award-winning equestrian journalist with a background in magazine publishing, feature writing, news and event coverage, editing, digital marketing, social media, and website management. Conrad has been published in equine publications such as The Horse, Blood-Horse, Equestrian, Arabian Horse Life, USDF Connection, the American Quarter Horse Journal, Paint Horse Journal, Off-Track Thoroughbred, Stable Management, Camp Business magazine, Lexington Family magazine, and HorsesDaily.com and DressageDaily.com. She is also the current editor for the Certified Horsemanship Association’s official publication, The Instructor magazine. Conrad has also edited several books, including CHA’s “The Equine Professional Manual—The Art of Teaching Riding.” Learn more at www.equestrianjournalist.com.

How to Find the Right Riding Instructor

By Sarah Conrad

Finding your first riding instructor, or a new riding instructor if you already ride, will take time and effort to find the right one for you and your situation. After all, you, or your child that wants to ride, should learn basic horsemanship skills before moving on to more advanced riding, competitions, or horse ownership. Everyone will have different factors that will direct the rider to their final choice. This article discusses what a new rider, or a parent, should look for in a riding instructor and lesson program. In addition, one of CHA’s Master Instructors offered up her advice through a previously written article on this topic.

The last blog post discussed 18 reasons why you would want a certified riding instructor and why that riding instructor should be certified by the Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA). A CHA instructor will give any rider a great foundation from the beginning, and the rider, or parent of a child rider, can rest assured that the instructor will teach the new rider to ride correctly and in the safest way possible.

If there aren’t any CHA instructors in the area, then the only way to evaluate instructors in the area is to visit, observe, and ask a lot of questions. Riding instruction can be varied and is voluntary, since anyone can call themselves a riding instructor, points out Cheryl Rohnke Kronsberg, CHA Master Instructor, in her article, “How to Choose a Riding Program,” [link to: which was written for her website, HYPERLINK “http://www.crktrainingstable.com” www.crktrainingstable.com. “Some programs require rigorous on-site testing while others only require paying a fee and passing a take-home test,” continues Kronsberg.

“If the instructor you are researching is certified, find out what the requirements were and what level they attained. Some teachers will teach well beyond their certification level because no one bothered to ask. ASK! Most certification programs have web sites that explain their testing process and what instructors are qualified to teach for each level of certification. Do your research,” Kronsberg continues.

“Also, make sure the instructor is actually certified with the group they are claiming to be and that their certification is current. If the instructor is not certified, ask about their experience and education. Make sure they teach riding and are not just a horse trainer,” continues Kronsberg.

Once you have found the instructors in your area who you want to evaluate, there are a few things to consider so that you can choose the right riding instructor for you. It is recommended for you to visit any instructors you are considering at least once to determine the answers to some of the questions below. Meanwhile some questions below can be asked over the phone.

“Most should be willing to give you some advice over the phone, if you know what questions to ask,” says Kronsberg. “Never be the person who calls the stable, asks the cost of a lesson, and hangs up. That’s like calling a car dealer and asking how much a car costs. There are so many variables; you need details to make a good decision. Think of these first phone calls as the beginning of your equine education,” she continues. “Pick the instructor’s brain and get a feel for the type of person they are.”

Below are a few of the key things to consider when looking for that first riding instructor.

Riding Style and Level of Instruction: First, what type of riding do you want to do? If you, or your child, is not sure about the style of riding to pursue, then perhaps the new rider should try introductory lessons with several styles, such as stock seat (Western), hunt seat (English), dressage, and saddle seat. If you would like to try reining or jumping, keep in mind that they are more advanced and will come after you learn the basics. Is there a riding instructor in your area that teaches the type of riding that you would like to try? And how far will that riding instructor be able to take you with your riding skills? To answer that last question, you will need to understand the levels of instruction that are covered by their certification. If the instructor is certified by CHA, you can read more about the levels on the CHA website [Add a link] No CHA instructor should teach beyond the level that CHA has deemed within their abilities. If they are, CHA has not been able to evaluate their skills and their abilities to teach safely and effectively at that level.

Lesson Types: What types of lessons are offered? How long do they last, and how much of that time is spent on horseback? Are there group lessons and/or private lessons, and what does that instructor suggest for you? How many people are in group lessons?

Is everyone in a group lesson of the same age or of the same experience level? It is usually best if all riders in the group are of the same ability, and not grouped by age, so the most advanced riders do not end being held back by beginners. What level of riders are being accepted now, and how do riders advance to the next level?

Cost and Inclusions: How much are the lessons? Are there packages available? What is included? What types of payment are accepted and when do you pay? What does the rider need to wear or bring, and what does the stable provide?

Insurance: Insurance is a must. Kronsberg recommends, “Find out the name of their insurance company and call to be sure their insurance is current.”

Stable Rules: What rules does the stable have? Will you need to sign any liability waivers or contracts?

Horses: What types of horses are used in lessons? Is there a horse (and tack) that will suit your height and weight? If the rider has any limitations or challenges, can the instructor accommodate, and does the instructor have the appropriate horse for that situation? Are there horses that will suit riders of every level? Are those horses well-trained and experienced with beginning riding students? Very young horses or horses without a lot of training or experience as a school horse are usually not advisable for beginning riders or small children.

The Stable: When you visit the stable, is it clean and neat? Are most things in their proper place unless they are being used? Is the stable free of safety hazards? Are stalls big enough for the horses and for a person to enter to handle a horse? Are fences in good repair? Do the horses look healthy, well-fed, and relaxed? Do most of the horses seem to like people instead of shying away from them? The stable does not have to be an Olympic-quality stable. In fact, some of the best instructors may only have a few horses for lessons, and it could still be a great place to begin riding. However, the facilities and tack should be in good condition and safe, and horses should look healthy and happy. And most importantly, the horses should be calm and suitable for beginners to handle and ride.

Safety: Is everything done with safety in mind? Does he or she explain how safety is involved when explaining how to care for, handle, and ride the horse? Does he or she teach the safest way to do something when giving lessons or corrections to a student? Are any students asked to do something despite feeling unsafe or uncomfortable? If so, this might be a red flag. Is the instructor certified in CPR? Is there a first aid kit available, as well as fire extinguishers and smoke and fire alarms?

Passion: Does the instructor have a love of the job? Instructors should love horses and people, especially children, and should love to teach. If an instructor has a passion for horses and teaching, then he or she will then pass along that passion to students.

Learning the Basics: Does the instructor start with the basics of horse care and handling with ground lessons? An instructor should first evaluate a rider’s safety equipment, such as their helmet and boots, etc., to ensure proper fit and appropriateness for riding. The first few lessons should teach students how to halter a horse, lead, tie, groom, pick hooves, etc., before that first ride. Proper ground lessons help ensure that the beginning rider can care for and handle the horse while not mounted.

Adaptability: How adaptable is an instructor in his/her teaching methods? Does he or she make adjustments when necessary to match the student’s ability to learn? Is that riding instructor ready for any situation?

Patience and Attention: Does that instructor show patience at all times? If an instructor “loses it” with another student or an animal, then that may call into question how patient they will be with you. Does that instructor keep his or her attention on students the entire time? Or are there distractions, like phone calls or texts? Are other people not in the lesson able to speak with the instructor during the lesson?

Confidence and Self-Esteem: Does the instructor teach in a way to increase a student’s confidence in himself/herself and his/her progressing riding skills? Is the instructor teaching in a positive manner or with negative phrases more than positive ones? The best instructors have a way of building the self-esteem of riders just setting out in this new activity. Good instructors know when to give praise and when to give criticism.

An Instructor’s Assistants: Are there assistants who help during a riding lesson, and what specifically do they do? What is their qualifications and are they always under the lead of the main riding instructor, or will they be in charge of a lesson or of students at any time? If so, you may want to evaluate assistants against some of the criteria above.

“Many barns hire school or college students to teach camps or lessons. (These are often the ones I see seeking certification because their programs require it.),” writes Kronsberg. “They have no previous experience teaching riding at all. Who will be assisting? Some programs use young riding students or parents as ‘leaders’ or ‘helpers’. This is simply not a safe practice. Everyone involved with the program should be experienced horse handlers. They should all be capable of handling an emergency. What will the 11-year-old child leading your child’s 1,000-pound horse do if that horse spooks or runs away?” questions Kronsberg.

Reviews from Others: Are the students having fun? You may want to talk to students and any parents afterward to hear about their experiences with that instructor and that stable. You can also ask the instructor for references. You can also check the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to see if the business is on the BBB site and if it has a BBB rating. However, if the stable is not on the BBB website, this is not a strike against it. It may mean that they have not joined the BBB or the instructor may not have been in business long enough for the BBB or he or she may only teach lessons on the side in addition to another job or being enrolled in school. Regardless of BBB status, if the stable’s current customers give glowing reviews, and it meets some of your requirements above, perhaps it is “the one.”

In summary, your first riding instructor should act professional, be safety-conscious, be an experienced horseperson, be experienced in teaching others to ride, and be trained in first aid and have the proper safety equipment. In addition, the facility should be clean, neat, and in good condition, with happy and healthy horses. Tack should be in good condition, and above all else, helmets should be required. Other students should be able to give recommendations and glowing reviews. And if possible, the instructor should have a certification with CHA. Trust your instincts and do your homework, and you are sure to find the right riding instructor for you.

For additional advice on the topic, visit HYPERLINK “http://crktrainingstable.com/lesson-program/how-to-choose-a-riding-program/” http://crktrainingstable.com/lesson-program/how-to-choose-a-riding-program/ to read all of Cheryl Kronsberg’s article.

And stay tuned here to next learn about horseback riding camps.

Sarah Evers Conrad is currently the Digital Content Editor at Horse Illustrated and Young Rider magazines. She also owns All In Stride Marketing. She is an award-winning equestrian journalist with a background in magazine publishing, feature writing, news and event coverage, editing, digital marketing, social media, and website management. Conrad has been published in equine publications such as The Horse, Blood-Horse, Equestrian, Arabian Horse Life, USDF Connection, the American Quarter Horse Journal, Paint Horse Journal, Off-Track Thoroughbred, Stable Management, Camp Business magazine, Lexington Family magazine, and HorsesDaily.com and DressageDaily.com. She is also the current editor for the Certified Horsemanship Association’s official publication, The Instructor magazine. Conrad has also edited several books, including CHA’s “The Equine Professional Manual—The Art of Teaching Riding.” Learn more at HYPERLINK “http://www.equestrianjournalist.com” www.equestrianjournalist.com.

The Ever-Evolving Horse Industry

By Sarah Evers Conrad & Christy Landwehr

In today’s world, our society is becoming more and more inactive. As horse professionals who are trying to help expand the horse industry and bring in new people into the sport, regardless of discipline, breed, or segment of the industry, it is our job to think outside the box and try to cater our services and products to the different generations, personalities, and challenges that our local market may include. CHA has an interesting place within the equine industry as an organization that does not cater to just one breed or discipline, but who desires to help our members teach the masses all about horses, horsemanship, and safety while providing a fun experience to the participant.

Generational Differences

It’s important to understand how the industry has evolved and to what markets we are currently trying to reach to bring in new participants. First, let’s look at the general differences in the generations. We have Boomers, Generation Xers, Generation Y and Millennials, and now Generation Z.

Baby Boomers (1946-1964)* grew up in the age of Roy Rogers and the Lone Ranger. It was a general time of affluence in which people aspired to the American Dream. The defining events of this generation include the Vietnam and Cold Wars and assassinations of influential leaders, such as John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King. Some say that Boomers sometimes aren’t always open to new ideas or ways of doing things and may have a “been there, done that” attitude.

Then along came Generation X (1965-1980)*, the children of workaholics, divorce, daycare and latchkey kids, and lovers of cable TV. This generation was reared to be self-sufficient with defining events such as the AIDS epidemic, the tragic explosion of the Challenger, and the Iran hostage crises. This generation grew up with the Black Stallion. It is said that Generation X may have a difficulty with commitment and a tendency to have a “wait and see” approach.

Generation Y/Millennials (1981-2000)* are generally seen as high achievers living in a great age of technology who may have been micro-managed by their parents. Their defining events include the fall of the Berlin Wall, the September 11th terror attacks, the dotcom boom and bust, and new technology, such as the iPod. In the horse world, this group grew up with Spirit, Stallion of the Cimarron and always being awarded for participation with everyone getting a blue ribbon. Character “flaws” may include short attention spans, high demands, and a “what’s in it for me” attitude.

Our upcoming generation, Gen Z (2000-now)*, have parents who are striving for a “safer” childhood. Many can’t imagine a world without smart phones, social media, Tumblr, Instagram, and SnapChat, along with the Internet in general. Their defining events include same sex marriage and the first African-American president. Some call Gen Z lazy and unaware.

Today’s Inactivity Pandemic

Today’s generation is the first generation to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents, according to FoundtheMarbles.com. Out of 104 possible activities, almost 20% of 6- to 17-year-olds did not participate even once in the past year, according to research by the Physical Activity Council. According to Phit America, that means there are 10 million totally sedentary children in America and 33 million children who are not active to healthy standards, and 87.2 million Americans, or 28.3%, are totally sedentary or inactive. Most sports are shrinking in core participation, while two were noted to grow among those age 6 to 17. Those two sports are lacrosse and gymnastics.

Marketing to an Ever-Evolving Horse Industry
Meanwhile, the horse industry is comprised of 1.8 million horse owners who are in general terms: married women over 45 years of age, recreational riders with an income over $50,000 from their full-time employment, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. The horse industry’s perception of horses indicate they are seen as a family member, best friend, companion animal or pet, and a performance partner vs. being seen as an investment, livestock animal, or employee (American Horse Publications).

Now that we understand more about the generational differences, demographics within the horse world, and the state of fitness within this country, how do we market to this ever-evolving horse industry?

Community events are a great way to reach new participants. Horse enthusiasts can visit schools to speak about horses to students or PTA groups, local fairs, along with teaching at open horse shows that have attendees from outside of the horse world.

In addition, many times grandparents are a great way to reach the youth market since many grandparents like to purchase gifts, such as lessons, for their grandchildren. This market can be found at Optimist Clubs, Rotary Clubs, churches, and at other civic organizational meetings. It’s important for horse enthusiasts to join clubs, not just horse ones to become active in the community.

Programs That Are Thriving

There are several programs outside of the horse industry that are reaching youth in unique ways. One is the First Tee Junior Golf Program. The First Tee helps shape the lives of kids and teens from all walks of life by introducing them to values inherent in the game of golf, such as integrity, respect, sportsmanship, honesty, confidence, and perseverance. Their mission is, “To impact the lives of young people by providing educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values, and promote healthy choices through the game of golf.” For more information, visit

Another great example is the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Young Eagles Program, which was developed to welcome young people into the world of aviation. This program offers free first flights to youth with a certified local pilot, a free online ground school course, and other youth aviation programs. For more information, visit

And our final example is the Colorado Ski Country USA Passport Program for fifth and sixth graders. Fifth graders ski or snowboard free for three days at each of 20 participating resorts for a total of 60 free days of time on the slope, along with one free beginner lesson with rental equipment to those who have never skied or snowboarded. And six graders can ski or snowboard for four days at each of the 20 member resorts for a total of 80 days for $115. For more information, visit http://www.coloradoski.com/passport

Programs like these offer great incentives for youth to get involved in a specific sport or activity. Within the horse industry, the American Horse Council’s Time To Ride equine-industry-wide initiative is helping to grow the horse industry by engaging equine facilities and organizations and assisting them to create memorable, long-lasting connections between people and horses. They make horse experiences attractive and accessible to every person. Their digital hub, TimeToRide.com provides ways to find a recreational or trail riding place, lessons and camps, fairs and rodeos, horse races, and shows and other equine events. The riding instructors that are listed are professionals through the Certified Horsemanship Association and through the American Quarter Horse Association.

In addition, the Time to Ride Challenge has awarded $200,000 cash and prizes to host stables, businesses, and organizations that introduced the greatest number of new people to horses during the challenge period through fun horse experiences. Several CHA facilities have been the leaders during this challenge that was launched in 2014. Time to Ride also offers resources for kids (TakeMeRiding.com), new riders, parents, and teachers. Their programs offer outreach to moms, spectators at horse shows, and local schools. Their free toolkit offers tips for marketing, event ideas, posters, ads, and graphics.

So as you spend time in this ever-evolving horse industry, and within your community, think about how you can be a mentor to those who may want to try out horseback riding. We want to empower, inspire, motivate, listen, connect, instill confidence, increase chances for success, and provide a safe, effective, and fun experience with horses to all new participants. And that will help the horse industry grow and prosper.

*Actual years vary by source.

Establishing a True Partnership Between Horse and Riding Student

By Leigh Cooper

As instructors, we face challenges teaching communication and partnership between our student and the lesson horse. Some students’ horse time is often limited to a one-hour weekly lesson. They may not be able to spend hours observing horses in the pasture or participating in the daily care of the horses they ride. Despite these constraints, we can still show our students how to develop a partnership with a horse through mutual understanding.

An effective partnership requires an open channel of communication between two parties. So for us to be effective riders, we must first become listening riders. To facilitate this communication, we need to use a partnership-focused language, encourage our students to listen to feedback from the horse, and help them utilize that information.

The first step toward partnership is to encourage a two-way communication mindset.

Simply rephrasing how we speak about the horse can influence the rider’s mindset. We may be quick to dismiss a horse as “lazy, stubborn, or naughty,” but such language puts the focus on the horse being at fault, which disregards important feedback from our equine partner. By eliminating the notion that the horse is actively working against the rider, you foster an environment that is based on teamwork.

In addition, consider the difference in “make” versus “ask.” If we tell our student to “make” the horse do something, the answer is black and white—the horse either does or doesn’t do it. This teaches the student to believe the task must happen in order to accomplish something. In turn, this might cause the student to unconsciously tune out feedback from the horse in an effort to reach the desired result.

In contrast, saying “ask your horse to trot” instructs the student to give the cue, and if the message was not received by the horse, the instructor and student can troubleshoot the cause together: How was the message unclear, and how can we improve on it so the horse understands?

Second, we must encourage the student to be an active listener.

Have the student halt in the middle of the arena and then have him or her ask the horse to move forward on a loose rein. The student should note how the horse responds to the cue to move forward. Did the horse respond to the lightest cue, or did the rider need to escalate aids to initiate a response? Did the horse pin his ears? Is the horse focused on something outside the arena, or is he relaxed and listening? Are the horse’s muscles tense with his head raised? Does the horse step out willingly, or does he slow to a stop?

Once the horse is moving forward, ask the student to let the horse walk freely around the arena. The horse will drift to areas where he feels most comfortable or to where he has received a reward in the past, such as near the gate or in the middle of the arena. Have the student discuss where the horse’s attention is focused and what specific locations he feels most comfortable.

Now that a question has been asked of the horse, you can finally encourage the student to discuss what he or she learned from the horse’s response.

A horse focused on something outside the arena may have ignored the rider’s cues for different reasons than the horse that wanted to just plod along and/or stop. From the moment the student mounted the horse, he or she should be thinking, “What kind of rider do I need to be today to best communicate with my horse?”

The student must be open to change based on the feedback received from the horse. The rider also needs to learn that every horse will require a different approach to achieve two-way communication. This helps the student develop successful horse-human partnerships as he or she opens up to an individualized dialog.

For example, a student that starts out with loud cues, such as digging in with heels to get the horse to walk on, might find that the horse jumped forward, raised his head, and pins his ears. Noting that feedback, the student can try again, knowing from the first time that the horse was not comfortable with that amount of pressure.

Students should also learn that if the horse is struggling to find an answer to our question, it is the rider’s responsibility to acknowledge the misunderstanding and improve the communication.

Our goal is to have our student become a listening rider, one that strive for a working relationship with his or her horse. We don’t necessarily speaking the horse’s language, but we must find common ground to build a dialog that both horse and rider can tap into.

Teaching a student to listen to the horse helps him or her to realize that horses are not robots. Horses think and feel. Therefore, maintaining a line of communication with each horse is integral to effective riding. Each student must develop the habit of constantly checking in with the horse and use any feedback to build solid horse-and-rider partnerships. By learning to listen to the horse, even a rider that is limited to a few lessons a month can learn to build a partnership with any horse.

Equestrian Camps

By Sarah Evers Conrad

You can tell when spring is approaching here in Lexington, KY, when Lexington’s Annual Summer Camps and Activities Fair rolls around. If your city or town has an event like this, it is a great way to do some research on local camps in the area and to be able to talk to camp staff and maybe even past attendees. I have attended this fair in the past to see what activities are available for family outings and for camps when my son gets older (he’s only two right now).

I definitely want my son to go to a camp one day, and I am hoping he will want an equestrian-centered camp. I never went to any kind of camp when I was young, and it is the only experience I regret missing as a child. I don’t want my son to miss out like I did. After all, there are so many benefits to attending a camp. Let’s take a look at a few of the benefits for children, and some of these may even fit for adults.

Benefits of a Camp Experience

– First, it is just plain fun. It is almost like a rite of passage for many children.

— Nowadays, many camps try to focus on a specific theme so that campers can have an experience around a sport or hobby that they love. So, what is the best theme to focus on? Horses, of course.

– Camp attendees can experience a feeling of community in a safe and nurturing environment.

– Many camp counselors become role models for their charges.

– Good camps have a combination of activities and experiences that help attendees learn something new, make discoveries, improve upon a skill, gain confidence, and improve social skills.

– All activities have been designed to be developmentally appropriate for campers and should be conducted in a safe manner.

– Many camps encourage campers to reach beyond comfort zones for their own personal growth. And many kids can try new things at camp that aren’t available during everyday life. This helps promotes an adventurous spirit.

– Many campers eventually return to become camp leaders. Moving into a leadership role within a familiar environment allows campers to develop leadership skills and other skill sets that will be welcome within a later career or volunteer activity.

I could go on and on about the benefits of camp for children and young adults. Maybe I will learn first-hand one day. Even though I never went as a child, I may have another shot at the camp experience as an adult. Nowadays, there are camps designed for families and even some designed just for adults-only. They are getting more and more popular, and new camps are springing up each year. Whether you want a camp for your child, for you and some friends, or you and your family, the options are out there.

And speaking of options, there are a variety of options for the type of camp as well. Of course, we all know that a camp must have horses, right? And riding only once a week just isn’t enough. We need an equine-centered camp. And you have come to the right place to learn more about equestrian-centered camps. After all, the Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA) was originally named the Camp Horsemanship Association when CHA was first founded in 1967 by Dan Hempill. And 40% of CHA’s current membership runs a camp. In addition to certifying riding instructors, CHA also certifies seasonal equestrian staff at facilities such as camps, youth organizations, guest ranches, and trail program operators. In addition, CHA accredits equestrian facilities of all kinds, including camps, which must meet certain Standards for Equestrian Programs. To find equestrian camps accredited by CHA and CHA certified instructors at seasonal programs, such as camps, visit HYPERLINK “http://www.CHAInstructors.com” www.CHAInstructors.com. Using the search on the left-hand side of the website, use the word “camp” in the Query box.

In addition to accrediting equestrian facilities at camps, CHA is an Educational Alliance Partner of the American Camp Association (ACA). This means that both organizations work together toward a common educational goal through an exchange of programs and services. This allows educational content about camps to reach more people. The ACA also works with other youth organizations and associations such as CHA. The ACA’s members, sponsors, partners, and others attend its annual meeting, which has already taken place for 2014 (February 9-11 in Orlando, FL). This year, CHA’s CEO Christy Landwehr attended on behalf of CHA.

The ACA consists of 9,000+ camp professionals who work toward ensuring quality camp programs within the United States. Its mission to promote, preserve, and improve the camp experience means that adults and children can participate in continuing education programs on community, character-building, skill development, and healthy living. Just like CHA accredits facilities, the ACA accredits more than 2,400 camps to meet standards in health, safety, and program quality. Out of these 2,400 camps accredited by ACA, 40% (960) of them have horses.

For more information about the American Camp Association and for a wealth of information on camps, visit HYPERLINK “http://www.acacamps.org” www.acacamps.org.

Before you start your research on camps, it is important to consider the options since not all camps are the same. There are traditional camps with riding as a once-a-day activity, equine-centered camps that include other activities for a balanced experience, or camps with a total immersion in equine-centered activities. There are camps for younger kids, older kids, or a range of ages. There are girls-only camps, boys-only camps, or co-ed camps. There are the adults-only camps we mentioned before, and there are family camps. And there are camps who cater to different groups at different times, depending on what session is offered during a particular time frame.

Some camps allow the camper to bring their own horse, allowing the rider to focus on specific goals between a rider and his/her mount. Horse owners should be aware that if a camp allows you to bring your own horse that it may want to be able to use your horse for other campers as well. This is only if the horse owner gives permission. However, most camps provide camp horses, which lets campers experience a variety of mounts. Or a camp could assign one horse to the camper for the week.

There are day camp experiences with no overnight stay involved, weekend experiences, week-long camps, or camps that last part of a summer or all of the summer. And don’t forget about the camps that offer Spring Break sessions. With Spring Break approaching fast, registrations for these sessions will be due soon. Don’t miss out if you think this Spring Break is when you want to go or when you want to send your child. Many camps operate year-round, except for when weather makes it not feasible or enjoyable for campers. Various sessions will then be offered throughout the open times.

If the potential camper is unsure that they would like to be gone very long, try a shorter camp or a day camp. After all, you wouldn’t want to pay for a weeklong camp to have your child frantic to come home after one day. (Please know that some homesickness is normal.)

If you already have a camp in mind, then check when registration and payment is due so that you don’t miss any deadlines. And if you don’t have any particular camp picked out, stay tuned to this blog to learn more about how to pick the right camp for you, your child, or your family.

After all, figuring out what you or your child wants is key to a happy camper.

Sarah Evers Conrad is currently the Digital Content Editor at Horse Illustrated and Young Rider magazines. She also owns All In Stride Marketing. She is an award-winning equestrian journalist with a background in magazine publishing, feature writing, news and event coverage, editing, digital marketing, social media, and website management. Conrad has been published in equine publications such as The Horse, Blood-Horse, Equestrian, Arabian Horse Life, USDF Connection, the American Quarter Horse Journal, Paint Horse Journal, Off-Track Thoroughbred, Stable Management, Camp Business magazine, Lexington Family magazine, and HorsesDaily.com and DressageDaily.com. She is also the current editor for the Certified Horsemanship Association’s official publication, The Instructor magazine. Conrad has also edited several books, including CHA’s “The Equine Professional Manual—The Art of Teaching Riding.” Learn more at HYPERLINK “http://www.equestrianjournalist.com” www.equestrianjournalist.com.

Emergency Planning: When It Really Counts, Will Your Farm Be Prepared?

By Sarah Evers Conrad

The day started like any other with morning lessons filled with happy children thrilled to be on the backs of their favorite steeds. The mid-day break rolled around, and the barn quieted down for a break. As horses happily munch on some hay, the owner of the small stable walked to her house on the property for some lunch of her own. Twenty minutes later she gazed out the window and gasped as she sees flames coming from the barn. They were already wreaking havoc on one side of the structure. As chaos ensues inside the barn, horses are nickering and squealing while some spin circles inside their stalls, panicked by the heat and the smell of the smoke. The barn owner races inside to try to save any horse she can.

She runs to the first stall, but then realizes she has no halter, and there isn’t one on the door. She flings the door open to just let the horse run out, but the horse is so panicked, he refuses to leave the place he has always known as his safe haven. Knowing that seconds count, she runs to the next stall, only to experience the same thing. The old barn doesn’t have any sprinklers or fire extinguishers, and she struggles with what to do next as the heat becomes unbearable. Knowing that she will die if she doesn’t get out immediately, she races out of the barn, and it is only then that she realizes she hasn’t even called the fire department. She struggles to look up the phone number using the Internet on her smart phone, but her phone isn’t cooperating. She finally makes the call. Hours go by as the fire fighters struggle to put out the fire. The barn owner, neighbors, and other horse owners have gathered to wait for a final verdict, but all is lost…all of the horses; the owner’s dog, which had been sleeping in the tack room; and the entire barn, not to mention her livelihood. It’s a nightmare scenario for any horse person…onne that we all hope to never experience.

However, just hoping it won’t happen to us doesn’t help if it does. While not all emergencies are preventable, there are precautions that can be taken to reduce the risk and steps to take beforehand so that if an emergency happens, a plan can be put in action to save lives. While the topic of emergency planning is a big topic, the Certified Horsemanship Association would like to share some of the most important tips for blog readers.

The Emergency Plan
First, it is crucial to create an emergency plan for your barn that details procedures to follow for any type of emergency that could happen in your area, whether it involves fire, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, mud slides, blizzards, etc. Plan for the worst case scenario. Post the plan in various places around the barn, next to all phones, and in the facility’s staff manual. The plan should be evaluated and updated periodically.

The plan should include:

    • Procedures for each kind of emergency scenario
    • All evacuation routes
    • Various routes that large emergency vehicles can use to access various parts of the farm. If one access route is cut off, an alternate should be chosen.
    • Procedures for transporting injured horses or people off of the property
    • Procedures to turn off water and electricity
    • The farm’s address and phone number that people can give to emergency personnel. Most people will not automatically have this memorized.
    • Phone numbers for several veterinarians, 911, police, the fire department, poison control, local large animal rescue groups, etc.

Education and Training

Educate all staff and participants, including children, at your facility about the emergency plan, and practice emergency drills and evacuations and how to lead all animals to safety. Everyone should know what to do should an emergency happen, and emergency procedures should be practiced periodically. Role playing can be especially effective with children. Handouts can be a great way for clients to remember the information after a training or drill session.

Due to the inherent nature of equine activities, it is a good idea to have at least some staff members, if not the entire staff, trained in first aid and CPR for people and first aid and emergency care for horses. Eventually a fall or accident is bound to happen on a farm, and the outcome for the horse or rider could be affected by how the emergency is handled.

In addition to practicing with staff and clients, evacuation practice should happen with all horses. Teach horses to be led with their eyes covered in case of a fire, so that panic doesn’t prevent them from being led to safety. Make sure that all adults can safely handle a horse in an emergency, despite any chaos. All horses should be accustomed to trailer loading in a rush, even in adverse conditions, such as during a storm. Horses should also easily follow a handler through water or debris.

Emergency Equipment

Everyone should know the location of all fire extinguishers, fire hydrants, hoses, first aid kits for both horses and humans, and other safety and emergency equipment. All staff and clients should know how to use equipment correctly.

Installation of fire hoses, lightning rods, smoke detectors, sprinklers, or other devices is recommended and may be required according to local building codes, the fire department, or your insurance company. Fire alarms or another emergency alert system should be in place and be appropriate for the size of your facility.

Horse Equipment

Keep a horse’s halter and a lead rope by each stall if the horse is inside so that they can quickly and safely be evacuated in case of a fire or other emergency. In addition, having something readily available that can be used to cover a horse’s eyes is important.

Know Your Local Emergency Personnel

If you can, invite your local fire department and large rescue group for a tour of your farm and a review of your emergency procedures so that should an emergency happen, they will already be familiar with your farm. In addition, leave each group information about your farm, how many staff and horses are usually on the property during various times of the day, all emergency procedures with locations of equipment, etc. The tour and information can be a great way to facilitate a quicker and smoother emergency response. In addition, if local fire fighters or other local emergency personnel have never worked with horses, have an introductory session to teach them the basics. Also, invite personnel to wear any typical equipment so that all horses become comfortable around a person in full fire fighting gear.

Disasters Off the Farm
Plans should also be put in place for when staff, clients, and horses travel off of the farm to horse shows, equine events, trail rides, camping trips, and other excursions. Everyone should know basic safety procedures, evacuation routes, meet-up locations in case people are separated, and other emergency protocols at other equine facilities since emergencies can happen anywhere. Also, when traveling off of the farm, don’t forget to keep a human and a horse first aid kit in the trailer.

Don’t forget to discuss any special medical needs with parents for children traveling to shows or other events. A phone or other means of communication during any excursion is a must-have item. If cell phone service is not available in a more remote area, than a satellite phone or a two-way radio are options.

Identification

Natural disasters can sometimes damage fencing, causing horses to escape and become lost. It is recommended that horses already have a permanent form of identification, such as a microchip or brand. In addition, if a natural disaster is looming, owners can use a temporary form of identification. Some options include: duct taping a waterproof ziplock bag with important information about the horse and the owner to the horse’s halter or braiding it into the horse’s tail, painting a phone number on your horse’s hoof with non-toxic paint, or using a neck band. In case a possible separation from your horse is possible. Make sure to have proof of ownership and photos of your horse, in case you have to find your horse at an evacuation facility, etc.

Evacuation Plans

If you live in an area prone to evacuations for natural disasters, such as along the East Coast for hurricanes or in the West for wildfires, be familiar with where you can take your horses in case of an evacuation. If the evacuation facility is compromised, you should have an alternate, and perhaps an alternate for the alternate. Be prepared for an alternate evacuation route as well and know whether that route will accommodate a horse trailer.

Have a plan in place for how to transport all of your horses. Keep your truck and trailer in good working order to be ready at a moment’s notice. Are horses up to date on vaccinations and do they have all necessary paperwork to be transported (i.e, a current Coggins test and a Health Certificate to cross state lines)? If you don’t have a trailer, then plan who will help you in advance. In some cases, facilities may fill up fast, so don’t wait too long or there may be no stalls or paddocks left. Also, keep in mind that it is dangerous to transport horses in winds beyond 40 mph, so don’t wait until that hurricane hits the coast.

If you can’t move your horses, who can help you care for them if you have to leave without them or if roads are impassable and you can’t get to the barn? You will need to make sure all horses have plenty of hay and clean water for two to three days, at least. If you must leave your horses outside and evacuate due to a storm, do not leave horses near power lines or toxic trees (ie, Red Maple) that could fall. Also, do not use a field with an electric fence that could end up shut off if power is lost. Inspect the field for debris or other hazards. Plan ahead in case water sources become contaminated. If a horse needs special medications or has special nutritional requirements, make sure the information is handy in case the owner can’t get to the barn due to a natural disaster. You should also think about how will animals be confined if structures are destroyed. If power is lost, is there a generator?

Obviously, there is a lot to think about for emergency planning. Below are a few more resources to continue learning about emergency planning.

If your barn has been through a major emergency, let us know what you may have learned during the experience or feel free to share how your emergency plan worked. Feel free to share in the comments below.

Additional Sources on Emergency Planning:

  • Book: The Certified Horsemanship Association’s Standards for Equestrian Programs Manual
  • Website: http://www.thehorse.com/topics/horse-care/disasters/emergency-planning
  • Book: Animal Management in Disasters by Sebastion Heath
  • In-Person Training: Seminars are often held through an extension office, local agricultural university, or through a large animal veterinary clinic, or veterinary association.
  • Website: http://www.aaep.org/info/emergency-disaster-and-preparedness-290

Sarah Evers Conrad is currently the Digital Content Editor at Horse Illustrated and Young Rider magazines. She also owns All In Stride Marketing. She is an award-winning equestrian journalist with a background in magazine publishing, feature writing, news and event coverage, editing, digital marketing, social media, and website management. Conrad has been published in equine publications such as The Horse, Blood-Horse, Equestrian, Arabian Horse Life, USDF Connection, the American Quarter Horse Journal, Paint Horse Journal, Off-Track Thoroughbred, Stable Management, Camp Business magazine, Lexington Family magazine, and HorsesDaily.com and DressageDaily.com. She is also the current editor for the Certified Horsemanship Association’s official publication, The Instructor magazine. Conrad has also edited several books, including CHA’s “The Equine Professional Manual—The Art of Teaching Riding.” Learn more at www.equestrianjournalist.com.

CHA’s Partnerships with Other Top Equine Organizations Benefits Members and Non-Members

The Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA) is honored to be partnered with extraordinary organizations that are leaders in their specific areas within the equine industry. Each partner helps fulfill CHA’s mission, which states, “To promote excellence in safety and education for the benefit of the entire horse industry. This is accomplished by certifying instructors, accrediting equine facilities, producing educational conferences and publishing educational resources such as horsemanship manuals, DVDs, safety video shorts, webinars, a monthly radio show, weekly blog, posters and much more.” In addition, CHA’s members can also benefit from the connection to these organizations in a variety of ways. Many of the organizations offer programs and products that fit CHA’s membership. Below we have list our partners in alphabetical order and given a little information into who they are.

A few of the ways in which CHA has worked with its sponsors includes:

  • Promoting CHA’s professionals to the memberships of our partner organizations
  • Arranging for CHA’s CEO, Christy Landwehr, or another CHA representative to speak at a partner organization’s event
  • Allowing partners to use some of CHA’s educational publications and tools
  • Promote the sponsor’s programs and services to CHA members and the general public
  • Exploring educational opportunities with partners
  • Inviting representatives from a partner organization to be a guest on CHA’s monthly radio segment on “Horses in the Morning” through the Horse Radio Network, which airs every third Tuesday of the month on HorsesintheMorning.com
  • Inviting representatives from a partner organization to serve as a webinar presenter for CHA’s webinar series
  • Inviting partners to have a booth at the CHA International Conference
  • Scheduling representatives from our partners to speak at the CHA International Conference
  • Providing the opportunity for sponsors to offer a mounted riding session or a clinic at the CHA International Conference
  • Partners providing their publications to CHA members, or providing a discount, as part of CHA’s membership benefits and vice versa
  • Connecting CHA Certified Instructors with the partner so that the CHA Instructor can serve as a resource when needed, such as a speaker to a partner’s audience or as a source within an article published by a partner organization
  • Sharing the latest news from partner organizations in CHA’s various publications and vice versa

Upcoming Appearances
CHA representatives are scheduled to be at several upcoming events hosted by our partner organizations. Christy Landwehr, CHA’s CEO, will be speaking during a Keynote lunch at the Arabian Horse Association’s Annual Convention in November in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Also in November, CHA will have a booth at the 2015 Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International Conference and Annual Meeting in Cleveland, Ohio. Next February, CHA President Peggy Adams will be at the 2016 American Camp Association Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. In March, Christy Landwehr will present a Professional Horseman’s breakout session at the American Quarter Horse Association Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada. And in April, CHA will have a booth at the Interscholastic Equestrian Association’s 2016 Hunt Seat and Western National Finals in Lexington, Kentucky.

Potential Sponsors
CHA is open to additional partnerships. Those wishing to discuss partnering with CHA should contact us at 859-259-3399.

CHA Sponsors

Active Interest Media (AIM)
AIM’s equine division publishes a wide range of magazines and associated websites geared toward horse owners, trainers, veterinarians, and other equine professionals in a variety of niches in the horse industry. Their print publications include American Cowboy, Discover Horses, Dressage Today, EquiManagement, Equus, Hitch Up!, Horse Journal, Horse & Rider, In Stride, Practical Horseman, Spin to Win Rodeo, Stable Management, The Trail Rider, and USRider. Each publication has a website, and additional websites include Equine.com and Equisearch.com.

American Camp Association (ACA)
ACA is a community of camp professionals who endeavor to share their knowledge and experience to those who are creating quality camp programs. At this time, ACA has more than 9,000 members who work to preserve, promote, and improve the camp experience. In addition, ACA also accredits camps that meet up to 300 standards for health, safety, and program quality. The association also provides a variety of educational opportunities and tools on camp topics.

American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA)
AQHA is the world’s largest equine breed registry and membership organization. Dedicated to the American Quarter Horse and the lifestyle of Quarter Horse lovers, the association offers a wide range of programs, competitions, publications, and prize and awards programs to horse owners, Quarter Horse breeders, competitors, backyard horse enthusiasts, Quarter Horse racing fans, and potential horse owners. AQHA also registers Quarter Horses and maintains pedigree, owner, breeding and progeny reports, and performance and show records.

Arabian Horse Association (AHA)
AHA is a membership organization of Arabian Horse enthusiasts and horse owners and competitors who enjoy a variety of recreational and competitive activities. AHA serves as the official breed association and registry in the United States for purebred Arabians, Half-Arabians, and Anglo-Arabians. AHA has more than 26,000 members at this time and more than one million registered horses. AHA provides a variety of competitions, prizes and awards programs, activities, Arabian Horse racing, endurance events, and much more.

Back Country Horsemen (BCH)
BCHA is dedicated to keeping America’s trails open for everyone. There are more than 174 local and state chapters in 27 states with more than 13,000 members. BCHA members help to maintain trails on public lands and coordinate with conservation corps and youth groups, the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, and Bureau of Land Management to ensure that people can have outdoor wilderness experiences in the future.

Equisure, Inc.
Equisure provides specialty insurance coverage for horse and dog owners, horse and dog clubs, volunteers who serve on boards, professional horse and dog trainers, riding instructors, farm owners, horse shows and events, polo clubs and polo club members. Equisure provides competitive rates for mortality insurance (with or without major medical or loss of use insurance additions), professional and general liability insurance, and insurance for directors and officers for clubs. Equisure prides itself on excellent customer service and for understanding the equine and canine industries.

Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA)
IEA’s mission is to introduce youth in private and public middle and secondary schools to equestrian sports. It currently has over 11,000 members in 42 states that participate in school and/or barn associated programs. Competitions are offered in either hunt seat and western, and horses are provided at the venue for each competitor.

Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH)
PATH Intl. works to promote safety and optimal outcomes in equine-assisted activities and therapies for those with special needs. PATH serves as a global authority, resource, and advocate for these programs. Previously known as the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA), Path now has more than 7,600 members and 850 member centers all over the world. In addition to riding programs, other programs also include therapeutic carriage driving, interactive vaulting, equine-facilitated learning and mental health, ground work and stable management, and PATH Intl. Equine Services for Heroes, which is designed for war veterans and military personnel.

Sarah Evers Conrad is currently the Digital Content Editor at Horse Illustrated and Young Rider magazines. She also owns All In Stride Marketing. She is an award-winning equestrian journalist with a background in magazine publishing, feature writing, news and event coverage, editing, digital marketing, social media, and website management. Conrad has been published in equine publications such as The Horse, Blood-Horse, Equestrian, Arabian Horse Life, USDF Connection, the American Quarter Horse Journal, Paint Horse Journal, Off-Track Thoroughbred, Stable Management, Camp Business magazine, Lexington Family magazine, and HorsesDaily.com and DressageDaily.com. She is also the current editor for the Certified Horsemanship Association’s official publication, The Instructor magazine. Conrad has also edited several books, including CHA’s “The Equine Professional Manual—The Art of Teaching Riding.” Learn more at www.equestrianjournalist.com.

Three Must-See Safety Guidelines for Equestrian Facilities

By Sarah E. Conrad

Now that Spring has hit all across the country, managers of equestrian facilities might be considering some projects to build, renovate, or add to their farm or stable. Of course, building codes and other local codes must be followed when planning changes to a property. Owners or facility managers will want to consult with the right authorities on any of these requirements. However, in addition, if the facility is already an accredited equestrian facility through the Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA) or if there are plans to get accreditation in the future, then facility managers will want to consider certain guidelines published by the Certified Horsemanship Association. However, these published guidelines apply to anyone who owns or manages an equestrian facility.

CHA’s Standards for Equestrian Programs manual was compiled by professionals involved with equestrian programs, insurance providers, and legal consultants, as well as individual equestrian professionals. The purpose of this collaborative effort was to keep all participants as safe as possible while receiving services at an equestrian facility. The manual states, “Equestrian programs have a responsibility to strive for safe, high-quality services. Throughout the industry, concern and consideration for our horses and our clients is universal. To this end, it is essential that a reasonable and accepted set of operational standards exist…CHA believes that facilities and individuals striving to follow these standards promote a safer environment for equine activities.”

The manual has been written with the horse industry as a whole in mind. It is divided into sections covering standards for equestrian sites, programs, management of horses, the discipline of driving, equine facility management, riders with disabilities, trails, the discipline of vaulting, and CHA Site Accreditation.

Let’s take a look at just one of these sections: Site Standards. These refer to the actual physical property or facility where there are equestrian activities. Each standard encompasses an overall topic of importance to anyone running an equestrian facility, such as Facilities for Safe Horses, Facility Lighting, Client Supervision, Gates and Ties Safe and Effective, etc., etc. However, these overall topics list a variety of points.

Three Must-See Safety Guidelines in Site Standards

1. Arena Safety: CHA’s standards (always posed as questions) ask, “Are arenas reasonably safe and well maintained for the activities for which they are used?” Of course, when I think of arenas, my first thought goes to the footing. The standards state that footing surface should be as level of possible and free of hazards and should provide good footing subject to weather conditions. The manual does not specify any particular type of footing.

As for the fencing around the arena, here is one point that some might not have considered: rails or other materials used should be mounted on the inside of posts so that a rider’s leg or a vehicle will not catch a post. I can just picture this, and the mental image is not pretty as a rider could fall or get hung up on an arena fence if this standard is not followed. Of course, fencing should be sturdy and provide a visual barrier, but a physical barrier is not required since the manual only states that the fencing should suit the discipline for which the arena is used. For instance, dressage arenas may only need fencing that is about a foot high, whereas a rodeo fence must be five feet or higher.

Obviously barbed wire is a big No-No for arena fencing or any other kind of fencing used for horses. The thought of barbed wire reminds me of when my first horse was a weanling, and the entire group of weanlings escaped from the breeder’s farm during weaning. They roamed the countryside until a few hours later when the farm owners found them. One weanling had suffered horrible gashes from barbed wire on another farm, and an especially nasty one across her chest. Barbed wire can really do a lot of harm to horses and are a serious safety hazard.

2. Facilities Safe for Horses: This standard asks, “Are the facilities reasonably safe and appropriate for the animals with a program in practice that is designed to eliminate hazards?” This one standard discusses 10 different points. The one that most stands out to me is the one discussing pastures. The standard states, “Pastures are reasonably well maintained, reasonably free of holes, rocks, poisonous plants, and other natural obstacles, and free of trash, junk, vehicles, or other known hazards.”

The reason that this stood out is that I have walked plenty of fields to make sure that my horse’s pasture did not have any hazards. Even though I was not the owner of the property where she was boarded, I did this on top of the owner’s inspections as an extra precaution and for my own peace of mind. We all know that if a horse can find something to injure himself on, he will. One other reason we were all extra diligent was that this particular area of Lexington was overrun with small animals that dug tunnels. The groundhogs were the worst. All sorts of natural wildlife could dig underneath a barn or pasture, such as groundhogs, moles, chipmunks, foxes, kangaroo rats, mongooses, prairie dogs, rabbits, woodchucks, etc. If a horse falls in a hole while running through a pasture, a broken leg or other serious injury could happen.

Another reason that this guideline stuck out is the mention of poisonous plants. Years ago when I worked for the magazine, The Horse: Your Guide to Equine Health Care, I had to edit a feature article about the most common or dangerous poisonous plants for horses. And then I had to pull images together of these plants for the final issue so that readers would know what these plants look like. It was a total eye-opener to see the types of plants that could harm horses. I would suggest that any horse owner or rider should be aware of what poisonous plants are in your area and learn what they look like. It isn’t even advisable to just leave it to the farm owner, because a plant could spring up and be eaten in between pasture inspections. If a rider knows what these plants look like, then they can notify the farm owner immediately if one is spotted. A horse’s life could depend on it. If I owned a farm with riders coming and going, I believe I would put photos on a bulletin board or have a document handy so that everyone would have access to the information. There are some great books, magazine articles, and websites from veterinary colleges about poisonous plants. Just make sure that if you are online that you stick with the website of an educational institution or a reputable publication.

3. Emergency Equipment: This standard asks, “Is emergency equipment, minimally including fire extinguishers and a means of emergency communication, in place at activity locations?” All of the points made in this section of the standards manual are important, but one must is having a telephone or other form of emergency contact in place. Most barns have phones, but some additional things should be near the telephone, such as emergency phone numbers, the number of the phone being used and the address of the facility so that the caller can give that to emergency personnel, directions to the facility, and a copy of the facility map showing emergency vehicle access routes. The last one should not be missed either. Many times, if a large vehicle, such as a fire truck, cannot reach a barn due to obstructions, bridges, low-hanging trees, etc., then another route should be accessible. At least one route should be accessible by emergency crews in case of an emergency, especially if people or animals are at risk.

For more standards related to equestrian facilities, check out CHA’s Standards for Equestrian Programs manual. To purchase a copy, please visit HYPERLINK “http://cha-ahse.org/store/products/CHA_Standards_for_Equestrian_Programs.html” https://cha.horse/why-becoming-accredited-is-important-for-equestrian-programs-and-facilities/. You don’t have to be a CHA member or a facility accredited by CHA to purchase. Anyone can purchase the manual.

Sarah Evers Conrad is currently the Digital Content Editor at Horse Illustrated and Young Rider magazines. She also owns All In Stride Marketing. She is an award-winning equestrian journalist with a background in magazine publishing, feature writing, news and event coverage, editing, digital marketing, social media, and website management. Conrad has been published in equine publications such as The Horse, Blood-Horse, Equestrian, Arabian Horse Life, USDF Connection, the American Quarter Horse Journal, Paint Horse Journal, Off-Track Thoroughbred, Stable Management, Camp Business magazine, Lexington Family magazine, and HorsesDaily.com and DressageDaily.com. She is also the current editor for the Certified Horsemanship Association’s official publication, The Instructor magazine. Conrad has also edited several books, including CHA’s “The Equine Professional Manual—The Art of Teaching Riding.” Learn more at HYPERLINK “http://www.equestrianjournalist.com” www.equestrianjournalist.com.

Educational Opportunities for Equestrians Available at CHA Regional Conferences

By Sarah Evers Conrad

Are you looking for a way to boost your horsemanship skills? Do you want to learn more about teaching horseback riding? Do you want to learn from some of the best horsemen and horsewomen in the equine industry? All horse enthusiasts, especially instructors and professionals within the equine industry, have 11 great opportunities throughout this year to learn more about horses, horsemanship, and safety. Each Certified Horsemanship Association Region offers a regional conference for anyone wanting horsemanship education, hands-on experiences, networking opportunities, and to make social connections within the horse industry. In the United States and Canada, CHA has 11 regions, in addition to an International Region. Each region within the U.S. and Canada has a regional conference, and attendance counts for continuing education credits toward CHA membership. Attendees do not have to live in the specific region to attend that region’s conference, and you do not have to be a member of CHA to attend. All CHA Regional Conferences are open to the public and to all horse enthusiasts.

There is also the larger annual CHA International Conference that brings together CHA members, horse industry professionals, and horse enthusiasts from all over. This year’s International Conference is scheduled for October 22-25 at the American Quarter Horse Association’s Hall of Fame and Museum and the West Texas A&M University in Amarillo, Texas. This event also serves as the Region 8 Conference for Oklahoma, Texas, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, and New Mexico. However, with eight more months to wait for the international conference, CHA encourages all horse enthusiasts to check out a regional conference.

There are several great opportunities on the horizon, so if you will be in the following regions, you may want to book your trip and register to attend these great events as soon as possible.

CHA Region 1 (British Columbia, Washington, Idaho, Western Montana, Oregon, and Alberta)

This conference is scheduled for March 5-8 at Canyonview Equestrian College in Silverton, OR. A great schedule is planned with classes, workshops, and mini-clinics on a wide variety of topics and disciplines. In addition, there will be fun activities, challenges, and excellent food. Speakers include Richard Shrake, Nathan Horsman, Stan Loewen, Trisha Kiefer, Reed, Monica Liles, Phil Peterson, Gregory Gil, Tereesa Wentland, Sherilyn Sander, Rod Brown, Jessica Mohr, Scott Depalo, Teddy Franke, Ren Bannerman, and Dr. Chris Wickliffe. The presenters will speak on reining, dressage, cutting, jumping, pack and trail, and instructor training. Those who wish to be hands on and ride in the presentations are able to on a first-come, first-serve basis. A silent auction filled with tack, equipment, rider apparel, home décor, teaching aids, etc., will help raise funds for the region’s scholarship program and other programs. Contact Teddy Franke in Oregon at teddy@campmorrow.org or 541-544-2149 or 907-687-6047. Follow news from Region 1 online at www.charegion1.com, Twitter.com/charegion1, Facebook.com/CHARegion1, and Facebook.com/groups/CHARegion1.

CHA Region 5 (New York, New Jersey, Washington DC, Virginia, Deleware, Pennsylvania, and Maryland)

This conference is scheduled for March 20-21 at Houghton College in Houghton, New York. Topics include farrier care to optimize performance with farrier Ed Carls, IRD techniques for cognitive/physical challenges, saddle fitting to help the horse and rider with Certified Master Saddle Fitter Judy Bromley, quadrille riding with the Musical Freestyle class of Houghton College, how to teach a CHA clinic lesson involving jumping with CHA clinicians Lynn Bliven and Lisa Strapello, how to safely prepare kids for competitions with CHA Master Clinic Instructor Kathy Hilsher, how to help at-risk youth with horses with CHA Master Clinic Instructor Susan Berger, how to teach riders to improve a horse’s gait with CHA Master Clinic Instructor and USDF Silver Medalist Valerie McCloskey, obstacle training with clinician JoAnn Long of Gentle Dove Farm, and teaching correct gaming techniques for barrel racing, pole bending, etc., with Lynn Bliven. In addition, attendees can take 45-minute lessons with schoolmasters for $50 as part of fundraiser for CHA. Pre-registration is required. Contact Larissa Strappello at larissa.strappello@houghton.edu.

CHA Region 9 (Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, Wyoming)

This conference is scheduled for March 13-15 in Denver, CO at the National Western Complex in concert with the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo. Topics include teaching techniques for riding instructors, credentialing for riding instructors, and exercises on horseback riding for all levels with CHA CEO Christy Landwehr; working with the very young rider with Ashleigh Hamill of Frontrange Equestrians; equine activity liability with Jill Montgomery of JRAM Enterprises; using a temperature gauge to manage a horse with Dr. Jeff Prystupa of Equine Thermography; building a successful local breed club and youth organization with Hamill and Jerry Martinez of the Arabian Horse Association; and many more great horse health care and management topics. The Junior Colorado Arabian Horse Club will do a demonstration. In addition to the conference, attendees will receive lunch, parking passes, and tickets to all events at the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo, including the Mane Event. Since the Expo has seven venues running simultaneously in addition to the Region 9 Conference, it makes for a great family weekend. Contact Jill Montgomery at jill@jramenterprises.com or Ashleigh Hamill at frontrangeequestrians@gmail.com.

Attendees can book accommodations at host hotels at special rates if booked by a certain date and at regular hotel rates after that. Attendees of regional conferences are also encouraged to register for the conference as far in advance as possible. There are rates for the entire conference or day rates for those who can’t attend every day. CHA members and students can book at a discounted rate.

For additional information on CHA Regions, upcoming conferences, and for contact information, visit https://cha.horse/regions-conferences/. Don’t forget to join CHA’s email list to hear about upcoming conferences and other educational opportunities and content at www.cha-ahse.org.

* Please Note: CHA Region 7 (North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, and Alabama) had its conference in January. The next Region 7 conference will be in 2016.

Sarah Evers Conrad is currently the Digital Content Editor at Horse Illustrated and Young Rider magazines. She also owns All In Stride Marketing. She is an award-winning equestrian journalist with a background in magazine publishing, feature writing, news and event coverage, editing, digital marketing, social media, and website management. Conrad has been published in equine publications such as The Horse, Blood-Horse, Equestrian, Arabian Horse Life, USDF Connection, the American Quarter Horse Journal, Paint Horse Journal, Off-Track Thoroughbred, Stable Management, Camp Business magazine, Lexington Family magazine, and HorsesDaily.com and DressageDaily.com. She is also the current editor for the Certified Horsemanship Association’s official publication, The Instructor magazine. Conrad has also edited several books, including CHA’s “The Equine Professional Manual—The Art of Teaching Riding.” Learn more at www.equestrianjournalist.com.

Three More Important Standards for Equestrian Programs

By Sarah Evers Conrad

Last week we discussed several of CHA’s safety guidelines for Site Standards at equestrian facilities as published in CHA’s Standards for Equestrian Programs manual. In today’s post, which is our second installment in a three-part series discussing safety guidelines, we will look into safety standards in relation to Equestrian Programs.

For those that missed last week’s post, CHA’s Standards for Equestrian Programs manual was compiled by professionals involved with equestrian programs, insurance providers, and legal consultants, as well as individual equestrian professionals. The purpose of the manual is for equestrian professionals to follow the guidelines in an effort to keep all participants at an equestrian facility as safe as possible while they receive services, such as riding lessons. The manual was designed for the horse industry as a whole. Therefore, the published guidelines apply to anyone who owns or manages an equestrian facility.

The manual states that the horsemanship director and riding staff are obligated to ensure the general safety of staff and clients. The manual’s section on Program Standards discusses 26 topics, such as setting goals, staff qualifications and age requirements, professionalism, an emergency plan, emergency and safety procedure training for staff and clients, liability waivers, incident reports, etc., to name just a few. This blog post will touch on three of the standards.

Three Must-See Safety Guidelines in Program Standards

1. Liability Waiver or Release: This one is probably familiar to anyone who has spent time at an equestrian business or event. I have certainly had a lot of experience with signing these, or my parent signing one, at every stable I took lessons or a trail ride. The standard asks, “Is a procedure in practice to obtain a written Liability Waiver or Release for all clients and volunteers that is dated and signed by the participant/parent/legally-appointed guardian?

Obviously, it is important that an equestrian program have a liability waiver or release to release it from responsibility should an accident or injury occur. We all know that accidents and injuries do occur due to the unpredictability of horses, and life for that matter. And with a waiver, that means the signer of the waiver (the rider, or the parent or guardian of the rider) acknowledge these risks as part of the activity. The standard also suggests that barn owners and managers should have an attorney look over the wording of the waiver or release form to ensure that it “provides maximum available protection under state/provincial laws.”

Some states have equine activity liability acts in place and these may affect a waiver or release for an equestrian facility in that state. Therefore, those that provide equestrian-related services should be familiar with their state’s acts or statutes. Some state acts require that “warning notices” or a listing of specific inherent risks be posted for all to see at a barn or stable.

For instance, my state of residence, Kentucky, has within its statutes Title XXI (21), Chapter 247, which deals with Farm Animal Activities. In Kentucky, farm animal professionals and sponsors must post warning signs and notices according to set specifications by Kentucky statute to warn participants at the facilities that there are certain risks involved.

This does not mean that an equestrian professional would not be liable in some instances. For instance, the statute summary states that if the professional willfully or wantonly disregards the participant’s safety or if they intentionally, negligently, or wrongfully injure the participant, then they could still be in legal trouble.

Obviously, every equestrian professional needs to be knowledgeable about the laws and statutes in their state and hire an attorney to look over or draw up their liability waiver, in case there is an accident around horses.

Equestrian professionals will also need to make sure there is a procedure in place to distribute any waiver or releases, get them signed, and properly store them, according to the manual’s P-9 standard.

2. Pre-Ride Safety Check: This is an important thing to consider for any equestrian offering riding services. The guidelines states, “Is a written procedure in practice to ensure that a thorough safety check is performed before a rider is mounted?” This check, which only takes a few minutes, could save someone from a serious accident. “A thorough pre-ride safety check is one of the most important ways to reduce preventable incidents in horseback riding,” states the manual.

Routines should be established so that the check is done the same way each time, and includes at least the following: rider attire, tack adjustment and condition, weather, external factors that could affect a lesson or ride (open area gates, items on fences, people leaning onto or sitting on the arena fence or sitting nearby, dogs and other animals in the arena, and other obstacles in the arena), the mood and disposition of the rider, and the horse. Top staff should “view written procedure regarding pre-ride safety checks. Interview staff regarding pre-ride safety checks that are done. Observe the program in practice, if possible,” continues the manual.

There may be other things in a pre-ride safety check that could be added to the list. I would include checking the horse’s feet, especially if the rider is a beginner and not an expert at picking feet or checking the status of horseshoes. And not only should tack be checked for fit and obvious worn spots or damage, but checking for any lumps in the saddle pad or any debris underneath would be a good idea. Program managers can make the list as detailed as they wish, but the main point is to have a policy, have staff perform checks each and every time and with consistency on what is checked, and to check a minimum of the items listed above. The Standards for Equestrian Programs manual also has more detailed guidelines on rider attire and tack in other sections.

3. Client Progress Notes: This last item we will discuss today involves client progress notes, which reminds me a bit of report cards. The manual asks,” Are written progress notes available for each client?”

Obviously, this does not apply to those who will just compete in a one-time activity or may only go riding on vacation. When I was a teenager, I so loved my weekly riding lesson that I couldn’t even give it up for the week my family took a vacation to Hilton Head Island, SC. I was lucky my parents agreed to take me to another stable during vacation. That stable in Hilton Head ended up being where I first learned to jump. However, I would be surprised if that riding instructor in South Carolina kept progress notes on me. Although if she had, she could have looked them over again the next year when I returned for another lesson. Business owners can never really know when he or she might come across a client again.

Instructors can do progress notes after each lesson, trail ride, or show, or on a set interval, such as once a month. Staff could record achievements, problem areas, personality information for the rider, the horse he or she rode, which tack fit the rider (and even what holes to use for the stirrups for the correct leg position), plans for future lessons, whether the rider and horse were matched well, what activities were done during a lesson and how that client did, whether lessons were done mounted, on the ground, or in stable management and anything else that would help that instructor teach that client or give the best customer service possible. Obviously another task for an instructor to perform each week or after the end of a set interval would be to review the progress notes. Progress notes can be invaluable when creating lesson plans or as motivation for clients if the riding instructor wants to share parts with them. And they can save time each week when matching up riders to tack and horses.

This is just a sampling of the useful information listed in the Program Standards section. There are many more valuable tips and safety guidelines discussing Equestrian Programs in the manual. For more details on the above Program Standard topics, or to read the other 23 topics, you can purchase CHA’s Standards for Equestrian Programs through the CHA online store or through the main office at 859-259-3399. You don’t have to be a CHA member or a facility accredited by CHA to purchase. Anyone can purchase the manual.

Sarah Evers Conrad is currently the Digital Content Editor at Horse Illustrated and Young Rider magazines. She also owns All In Stride Marketing. She is an award-winning equestrian journalist with a background in magazine publishing, feature writing, news and event coverage, editing, digital marketing, social media, and website management. Conrad has been published in equine publications such as The Horse, Blood-Horse, Equestrian, Arabian Horse Life, USDF Connection, the American Quarter Horse Journal, Paint Horse Journal, Off-Track Thoroughbred, Stable Management, Camp Business magazine, Lexington Family magazine, and HorsesDaily.com and DressageDaily.com. She is also the current editor for the Certified Horsemanship Association’s official publication, The Instructor magazine. Conrad has also edited several books, including CHA’s “The Equine Professional Manual—The Art of Teaching Riding.” Learn more at www.equestrianjournalist.com.

>> Click here to Buy The Equine Professional Manual – The Art of Teaching Riding

horses grazing hay bank

Safety Standards for Managing Equines Important for Equine Programs and Clients

By Sarah Evers Conrad

It’s our final post in the three-part series discussing safety guidelines published by the Certified Horsemanship Association in their Standards for Equestrian Programs manual. And this week’s topic, Management of Equines Standards, is important, not only for business owners, but also for anyone considering using an equine business. Knowing that horses are healthy and fit and that equipment is safe and well-cared-for should be a concern on both sides. We will discuss some of the guidelines in just a moment. First, I have a story to share.

This past weekend was a big weekend for my family. It was the first time my son had his first pony ride. And it happened the same as it did for me when I was little, at my dad’s company picnic. Except my son is almost three, and I was around six years old. I remember begging my parents to let me keep getting back in line to ride over and over and over again. That first exposure to ponies is what got me hooked, and led to me asking for riding lessons, or a pony, of course. A few years later I began riding lessons and a lifetime involved with horses. It was a great introduction to horses for me. Wouldn’t it be great if all companies had pony rides at their company events?

So this weekend was a big deal for my son as he enjoyed his first real exposure to riding, and it was also a very proud moment for me as a mom who got to share my love of horses with my little one. I only hope he may have some memory of this down the road, although he may be too young. Of course, Mommy has photos and a video, so the moment has been preserved for all time.

The pony rides were the first thing we did at the picnic, which was set at a local orchard. I am so happy to say that the business that was hired to have ponies at the event met my approval. After the initial happiness at seeing ponies there, my next thoughts turned to inspecting the health of the ponies and the safety of the equipment. Did the ponies look well-fed and have healthy looking hooves, showing that they were well-cared-for? Was the tack clean, appropriately sized and in good condition? Were the ponies calm and suited for their job? Did those directing the flow of kids match riders to the right size pony? These are just a few questions I asked myself before I allowed him to ride.

My husband had no clue I was performing a silent safety check before I determined if my child was going to be safe with this particular equine business. I do this every time I see horses for hire for carriage rides, such as in Charleston, SC; or for trail rides, like one I did on Amelia Island, FL; or for riding lessons I have taken at vacation destinations, such as Hilton Head Island, SC.

This leads me to the standards for the management of equines in the Standards for Equestrian Programs manual. This blog post will touch on three of the standards, which also tie in to my initial inspections before I consider using an equestrian program. For all 15 standards in the chapter on “Management of Equines Standards,” you will find information below on how to purchase the manual.

Three Must-See Safety Guidelines Regarding Management of Equines

1. Horse Management Program: This standard asks, “Does evidence exist of a horse management program that is integrated and implemented with observable, generally accepted practices?” The authors explained this standard as, “A general impression of healthy, well-cared-for animals should be evident from a horse management program using generally accepted practices and guidelines.” A program’s horse management practices tackle the following topics:

Availability of clean water;

A feeding schedule with proper rations and storage;

Hygiene practices to contain disease transmission;

A schedule for routine hoof care, worming, vaccinations, and other veterinary care;

Safe stabling and fencing;

Animal-caretaker knowledge of first aid;

A humane work schedule based on each horse’s condition;

Tack that is suitable, serviceable, properly adjusted, and fits the animal; and,

Disposal of trash, manure, moldy hay, and spoiled feed.

      

This standard is an overall look at the program, and some of the items in the list above are discussed in more detail later in the chapter.

2. Horse Selection: This standard asks, “Is there a procedure in practice for screening and selection of prospective horses?” The process of choosing horses for an equine program depends on the needs of the program and the intended use for the horses. Obviously a business that gives beginning riding lessons to children will need calm, well-trained horses or ponies that aren’t too big and strong for a child to handle. Temperament, soundness, size, overall health, and training or training potential must be considered. The program’s goals and activities must have the appropriate number and types of horses, and horses must be suitable for clients’ skill level.   

3. Soundness Check: This standard asks, “Is a procedure in practice to check the physical soundness of each horse prior to use and remove unsound horses from work?” Obviously, soundness is of utmost importance, and if procedures aren’t in place to check soundness, then this could cause a physical problem with the horse to worsen if not caught early.

The manual has 12 more topics to consider regarding the management of equines. Based on our three-part series regarding site standards, program standards, and management of equine standards, you can see that there are a lot of things to consider when operating an equestrian program. These blog posts have only been a sample of all of the amazing material published by CHA in the manual.

The Standards for Equestrian Programs manual was compiled by professionals involved with equestrian programs, insurance providers, and legal consultants, as well as individual equestrian professionals. The purpose of the manual is for equestrian professionals to follow the guidelines in an effort to keep all participants at an equestrian facility as safe as possible while they receive services, such as riding lessons. The manual was designed for the horse industry as a whole.

Those equine business owners who follow the guidelines have a chance to have their facility accredited by the Certified Horsemanship Association, thereby giving them an industry “stamp of approval” and recognition for their adherence to safety standards. This makes the published guidelines important for anyone who owns or manages an equestrian facility. In addition, participants in equestrian activities would benefit from the manual as well since it discusses the elements of a safe and well-run facility.

Also, if you know a facility is accredited by the Certified Horsemanship Association, then you know that the facility is already following the manual’s safety guidelines. You can search for accredited equestrian facilities online at HYPERLINK “http://www.CHAInstructors.com” www.CHAInstructors.com.

In closing, I will repeat a quote from the manual that states, “Equestrian programs have a responsibility to strive for safe, high-quality services. Throughout the industry, concern and consideration for our horses and our clients is universal. To this end, it is essential that a reasonable and accepted set of operational standards exist…CHA believes that facilities and individuals striving to follow these standards promote a safer environment for equine activities.”

To learn more about safety around horses, you can purchase CHA’s Standards for Equestrian Programs manual at HYPERLINK “http://cha-ahse.org/store/products/CHA_Standards_for_Equestrian_Programs.html” https://cha.horse/why-becoming-accredited-is-important-for-equestrian-programs-and-facilities/. You don’t have to be a CHA member or a facility accredited by CHA to purchase. Anyone can purchase the manual.

For a wealth of safety and horsemanship information, check out CHA’s website at HYPERLINK “http://www.cha-ahse.org” www.cha-ahse.org for future blog posts, articles, magazines, audio segments with the Horse Radio Network’s “Horses in the Morning” radio show, webinars, videos, email newsletters, press releases, and more.

Sarah Evers Conrad is currently the Digital Content Editor at Horse Illustrated and Young Rider magazines. She also owns All In Stride Marketing. She is an award-winning equestrian journalist with a background in magazine publishing, feature writing, news and event coverage, editing, digital marketing, social media, and website management. Conrad has been published in equine publications such as The Horse, Blood-Horse, Equestrian, Arabian Horse Life, USDF Connection, the American Quarter Horse Journal, Paint Horse Journal, Off-Track Thoroughbred, Stable Management, Camp Business magazine, Lexington Family magazine, and HorsesDaily.com and DressageDaily.com. She is also the current editor for the Certified Horsemanship Association’s official publication, The Instructor magazine. Conrad has also edited several books, including CHA’s “The Equine Professional Manual—The Art of Teaching Riding.” Learn more at HYPERLINK “http://www.equestrianjournalist.com” www.equestrianjournalist.com.

Colleges and Universities with a CHA Connection

By Sarah Evers Conrad

There are a variety of colleges and universities with equine-related programs across the United States and Canada. Some have become Program Members with the Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA) due to all the benefits CHA offers Program Members. If you’re a high school student looking for colleges and universities with equestrian programs, here is a list of CHA-affiliated programs for your consideration.

Asbury University: This CHA-Accredited facility is located in the sleepy town of Wilmore, KY, outside of Lexington, KY. With a Christ-Centered program, their goal is to minister using horses while providing a solid equine science curriculum with hands-on work. Courses in stable management, horse training, conformation, lameness, reproduction, and ranch management are just a few options. Asbury also has a vaulting team and a police mounted training program. The major in Equine Facilitated Wellness ties into a Psychology major.

CHA Certifications

Canyonview Equestrian Center and College: This CHA-Accredited facility is also an approved host site for CHA events. Located in Silverton, Oregon, in the Willamette Valley, Canyonview combines religious studies with horsemanship. Students have lessons in dressage, hunt seat, and western weekly in the first year, with combined training, reining, and cutting being integrated into the second year of studies. Students also get to train a young horse under saddle, as well as learn about facility design and management, herd management, equine nutrition, herd health, and equine reproduction. Students participate in two CHA Certification Clinics, and the CHA curriculum is used in courses on teaching technique.

CHA Certifications

Central Wyoming College: This CHA-Accredited facility and CHA-approved Host Site in Riverton, Wyoming, offers an Associate of Science Degree in Horse Science, Associate of Applied Science to Horse Management and Credentials in Equine Training Technology, Horse Management, Farrier Science, and Teaching Riding. In addition, there is a certificate in Horse Management.
https://cha.horse/cha-certifications/#college-university-facility-certification

Houghton College and Riding Camp: This CHA-Accredited facility and CHA-approved Host Site is in Houghton, NY, for students who want to get a minor in Equine Science or a Bachelor of Science in Recreation and Leisure, which focuses on outdoor education/camp administration and equestrian studies. One of the theory requirements is CHA Rider Instructor Certification with an elective in CHA-IRD. The school teaches equine industry management, therapeutic riding, history and philosophy of training, teaching, and judging. Many students end up as riding instructors, therapeutic riding specialists, trainers, or stable or program administrators.

CHA Certifications

Laramie County Community College: Located in Cheyenne, WY, this college offers an Associates in Science in Equine Business Management or Equine Science, and an Associate of Applied Science in Equine Training Management or Rodeo Production Management. Their equestrian team is part of the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association, which participates in about 12 horse shows per year. There are also men’s and women’s rodeo teams.

CHA Certifications

McLennan Community College/Highlander Ranch: Located five miles from the main campus for McLennan Community College in Bosqueville, TX, Highlander Ranch is where students take classes for Veterinary Technology and Agriculture for the Associate Degree Program, as well as where students take classes for the Veterinary Assistant Certificate Program. In addition, the ranch offers horseback riding lessons, camps, equine boarding, and continuing education courses for the community. There is a large covered arena, meeting rooms, facilities for rent, pastures, and a picnic area.

CHA Certifications

Middle Tennessee State University: Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) offers an undergraduate degree in Horse Science and a concentration under an Animal Science degree; a Master of Science with a concentration in Equine Education, Equine Physiology, or Industry Management; a horse judging team; a stock horse association; and an equestrian team. Classes include horsemanship, equine care, animal care and welfare, horse breeds and genetics, horse production, farrier science, equine event and facility management, reproduction and breeding, eq uine industry, nutrition and feeding, behavior and training, equine evaluation and selection, teaching horsemanship, equine exercise physiology, and more. tudents will spend a lot of time at the MTSU Horse Science Center in classrooms, an equine reproduction laboratory, the heated barn with 65 climate-controlled stalls, an enclosed arena, and an outdoor arena and jump course. A 2,500-square-foot annex is in the planning phases. The judging team competes regionally and nationally and has won major competition.

Midway College Equine Program: Located in Midway, KY, right outside Lexington, KY, Midway College offers a Bachelor of Science or an Associate of Science in Equine Studies. Students also have access to local boarding and breeding operations, sales and racing, equine association headquarters, therapy centers, animal health and pharmaceutical companies, and renowned veterinary practices in the area. The college also has a minor in Equine Studies for Biology majors who may want to continue on to post-graduate programs in Animal/Equine Science or Veterinary School. The facilities at Midway include a working horse farm with hands-on learning with a large herd of horses of all breeds and disciplines. Areas of concentration within the major include horse business management, horse rehabilitation or horse science, along with business or sport management.
https://cha.horse/cha-certifications/#college-university-facility-certification

Ohio University Southern Campus: Located in Ironton, OH, this CHA-Accredited facility trains students for professional positions within the horse industry. Students can choose from several tracts, which include riding instruction, therapeutic riding instruction, assistant trainer, farm business and management, pre-animal science/pre-veterinary technology. The core classes include equine studies introduction, basic equine health care, basic horse handling, and facility management. Other options include classes for teaching techniques, farm design/stable management, horse judging, horse show and event management, business management, studies in equine issues, nutrition, anatomy and physiology, lameness and conditioning, Western riding, English riding, horse evaluation and selection, training and evaluating lesson horses, pasture management, shoeing, and much more.

CHA Certifications

Savannah College of Art and Design: Located in Savannah, GA, the Savannah College of Art and Design offers an advanced equestrian studies degree. There is an equestrian team that is no stranger to winning championships. Equestrian studies classes include Western art; equine business management; horse care and management; principles and theories of riding and training horses; barn construction, design, and facility layout; equine anatomy; equine systems, disorders, and lameness; rules and regulations for competition horses; equine business law and ethics; judging and selection of performance horses; course design; and more. Their facilities include an 80-acre ranch with barns, arenas, pastures, a covered riding arena, and SCAD-owned horses and those boarded by students.
https://cha.horse/cha-certifications/#college-university-facility-certification

South Dakota State Equestrian Team: The Department of Animal Science at South Dakota State offers the South Dakota State Equestrian Team, which became the 21st varsity sport at SDSU in 2004. In 2008, their $3.6 million climate-controlled facility opened with an indoor riding arena, 42 stalls, grooming and wash areas, and on-site vet and farrier work areas. In addition, the Horse Club have trail rides, clinics, rides in parades, social activities, and volunteer work at the Gentle Spirit Horse Rescue. The Equine Studies program offers classes in horse management, Western horsemanship, English horsemanship, equine health and diseases, fundamental equine nutrition, horse production, stable management, reproductive management, yearling halter training, two-year-old saddle training, equine issues and leadership, draft horses, trimming and shoeing, and an equine internship.

CHA Certifications

St Andrews Equestrian Program: Located in Laurinburg, NC, this program at St. Andrews University offers majors in Equine Business Management, Equine Science, Pre-Vet, Therapeutic Horsemanship, and Therapeutic Horsemanship Business Management. St. Andrews also offers teams that compete in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association events, American National Riding Commission Intercollegiate Equitation Championship, at United States Equestrian Federation-rated hunter/jumper shows, and at hunter/jumper and dressage schooling shows. There are multiple barns and covered arenas, an indoor arena, multiple show and teaching arenas, hunter trials courses, jumps, a dressage arena, and more.

CHA Certifications

West Texas A&M University: West Texas A&M University in Canyon, TX, is hosting the 2015 CHA International Conference. The Equine Industry and Business degree prepares students for a career in the horse industry, including production, racing, recreation, competition, and equine-related service industries. West Texas A&M University offers a variety of horse-related student activities, such as Collegiate 4-H and FFA, a horse judging team, a stock horse team, an equestrian team, Block and Bridle, the WT Horseman’s Association, and a Pre-Vet club. Their horse judging teams are some of the best in the country, and since West Texas A&M is a Division II school, their judging teams compete against Division I schools. Also, the Horse Evaluation class that the school offers includes trips to visit top training facilities, and the judging team also competes at the All-American Quarter Horse Congress, the AQHA World Show, the NRHA Futurity, and the AQHYA World Show in Fort Worth, Texas. The WTAMU Horse Center is four miles from Kimbrough Memorial Stadium, and it has 80-acres, an indoor arena, two lighted outdoor arenas, and several round pens. There are around 50 horses in the WTAMU herd.

West Virginia University Equine Studies Program: Located in Morgantown, WV, West Virginia University has a well-rounded equine curriculum combining equine science, horse management, and therapeutic riding courses. The minor in Equine Studies is usually joined with an Animal and Nutritional Sciences major, Agribusiness Management and Rural Development, Agriculture and Extension Education, and majors from outside the Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Design College. Faculty is made up of experienced horse people, and students can be involves in student organizations, undergraduate research, and in working student opportunities.

CHA Certifications

Sarah Evers Conrad is currently the Digital Content Editor at Horse Illustrated and Young Rider magazines. She also owns All In Stride Marketing. She is an award-winning equestrian journalist with a background in magazine publishing, feature writing, news and event coverage, editing, digital marketing, social media, and website management. Conrad has been published in equine publications such as The Horse, Blood-Horse, Equestrian, Arabian Horse Life, USDF Connection, the American Quarter Horse Journal, Paint Horse Journal, Off-Track Thoroughbred, Stable Management, Camp Business magazine, Lexington Family magazine, and HorsesDaily.com and DressageDaily.com. She is also the current editor for the Certified Horsemanship Association’s official publication, The Instructor magazine. Conrad has also edited several books, including CHA’s “The Equine Professional Manual—The Art of Teaching Riding.” Learn more at www.equestrianjournalist.com.

CHA’s and The Right Horse’s Pilot Adoption Program is a Match Made in Horsey Heaven

By Sarah Evers Conrad

At the beginning of this year, the Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA) announced their involvement with The Right Horse Initiative. This program allows CHA riding instructors in Region 9—Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska—to adopt horses that need new homes for use in their riding lesson programs and/or camp programs. CHA leadership recognized the merits of this program to help the horse industry give a new career to horses new homes. It also helps meet one of the biggest needs of riding instructors—where to get quality mounts for their lesson and therapy programs.

This pilot program is possible thanks to a $14,000 grant given to CHA from the Watershed Group, which funds The Right Horse Initiative. This grant helps with transportation costs for the horses as they are transitioned to their new home.   

CHA is working closely with Harmony Equine Center in Franktown, CO, which serves as a transition center for the horses. Transition centers are organizations and facilities that provide a range of services, including intake, boarding, medical care, and training for the horses that are in transition.

Another transition center that has partnered with CHA is Colorado State University (CSU). CSU receives the horses after they have been processed by Harmony Equine Center. Then CSU students in the equine center start working with the horses to retrain them for a new career. Once they have completed their training, they are placed up for adoption for only $500 to CHA members.

The program kicked off in January 2018, and the first horses to graduate from CSU training moved to their new homes after the spring semester.

Pecos was adopted by Andrea Linzmeyer, a CHA Certified Instructor and Equine Facilities Manager who is the Equine Manager at the Urban Farm in Denver, CO. The 12-year-old Paint gelding will eventually be used as a walk/trot/cancer horse in lessons. However, Pecos developed a soft tissue injury, so he hasn’t been incorporated into the lesson program yet since he is still healing.

Linzmeyer was impressed with the level of training that CSU had given Pecos. “CSU does an amazing job with these horses training,” she said. “They work hard to make sure they are put to the test and will truly succeed as lesson or therapy horses.”

Emmalee Anne Gale, another CHA Certified Instructor who works at the Urban Farm as the Equine Assistant, adopted Gretta. Gretta is a 15-year-old Quarter Horse and Arabian cross mare. The mare settled right in with all of the cows and goats and other animals at the Urban Farm, and she isn’t even phased by the nearby passing trains, said Gale.

Gale said Gretta lacked information about her past history, so she was restarted at CSU by the student that trained her. Gale, who wanted a more green horse, is continuing Gretta’s training for her intermediate to advanced riders.

“Gretta was in great shape and had been well taken care of,” said Gale. “I was able to watch her trainer at the time work with her before I was able to try her myself. I truly enjoy working with Gretta, and I think that she will not only be a great horse for me, but she will also do well in my lessons.”

A third horse was adopted by CHA Certified Instructor Jessie Butler of Fort Collins, CO. Currently, Butler, who is also certified by Path Intl., is the Program Manager at Front Range Exceptional Equestrians and is a therapeutic riding instructor at Hearts and Horses in Loveland, CO. In addition, she has her own lesson program.

Otter, previously named Hunter, is a 16-year-old grade mare. This gray mare settled beautifully into her new home, said Butler. After settling in, Butler introduced her to her students, and she has already become a student favorite in her lesson program.

“Otter came into my program with a great wealth of knowledge,” said Butler about the training the mare received at CSU.

Butler is working on expanding Otter’s knowledge with English riding and with crossrails. “She is learning quickly and is already a superstar for my riders doing trot pole courses,” she added.

“My students and I have loved our little Otter since the moment she stepped hoof on our property!” said Butler. “Kids, teens, and adults in my program constantly gush about how sweet and lovely she is! Otter knows her job as a lesson pony and carries all her riders with grace, a wonderful sense of humor, and just a pinch of spunk—the perfect recipe for a lesson horse. Otter will be loved by myself and my students for a long, long time!”

Butler said adopting from The Right Horse was a wonderful experience. “I highly recommend it to other CHA instructors!” she added. “It was a straight-forward process, and I’m thrilled with how it all turned out!”

Both Gale and Linzmeyer would recommend the program to CHA instructors. “There are some really great horses that are just waiting to have their forever home,” said Linzmeyer. “The Right Horse and CHA teaming up has made it easy for instructors to find good, affordable school horses, as well as give these wonderful horses a second chance. It’s a win-win for all.”

Now that August is here, 12 more horses will be available for adoption in Region 9. CSU’s summer semester students have been busy working with these horses. After the fall semester ends in December of this year, then the third batch of horses will be available.

For more information on The Right Horse, visit http://www.therighthorse.org. To learn more about the partnership between CHA and The Right Horse, please visit .

Sarah Evers Conrad is currently the Digital Content Editor at Horse Illustrated and Young Rider magazines. She also owns All In Stride Marketing. She is an award-winning equestrian journalist with a background in magazine publishing, feature writing, news and event coverage, editing, digital marketing, social media, and website management. Conrad has been published in equine publications such as The Horse, Blood-Horse, Equestrian, Arabian Horse Life, USDF Connection, the American Quarter Horse Journal, Paint Horse Journal, Off-Track Thoroughbred, Stable Management, Camp Business magazine, Lexington Family magazine, and HorsesDaily.com and DressageDaily.com. She is also the current editor for the Certified Horsemanship Association’s official publication, The Instructor magazine. Conrad has also edited several books, including CHA’s “The Equine Professional Manual—The Art of Teaching Riding.” Learn more at www.equestrianjournalist.com.

horse, rider, vernal

Prepping Horseback Riding Trails for the Spring

By Sarah Evers Conrad

Trail riding is a favorite past-time of equestrians regardless of breed or discipline. There is nothing like hitting the trail and immersing oneself with nature and one’s mount while taking in fresh air and sunshine. Plus, getting out of the arena for a relaxing trail ride can be good for both rider and horse alike since it can help reduce ring sourness.

To be able to have trails to ride on, it’s important to maintain horseback riding trails for the safety of riders and to minimize the impact we have on the land and wildlife that live in the area. Most trails need to be groomed and maintained at least once per year.

Because many horseback riding trails are on public or community land, trail maintenance is often handled by volunteer organizations, such as a state horse council or a local chapter of the Back Country Horsemen of America (BCHA). Approval often needs to be obtained from trail officials/owners beforehand before a maintenance weekend is set and volunteers are organized.

Below are some of the ways trails should be maintained.

Debris Removal: It’s inevitable on many trails to have fallen trees or limbs on the trail. It’s best to make sure that these are removed so that riders don’t try to ride around this debris and go off trail. Going off trail can cause problems with erosion, and if they venture into a brush- or leaf-covered area next to the original trail, a rider might not be able to spot hazards, such as a hole.

Erosion Issues: Anyone that has ridden down a trail with major ruts caused by erosion knows that there is increased risk for the horse to place a foot wrong or to slide or trip and injure himself. In addition, erosion can totally destroy a trail. Therefore, fixing erosion issues becomes key when dealing with riding trails.

Gravel can be added to areas where water erodes the trail to create a more stable surface that water won’t be able to move as easily as dirt. Synthetic materials can also be used in erosion-prone areas, but not every budget will allow for the installation of these more expensive materials. These materials may also need to be professionally installed or it may be necessary to hire a trail maintenance expert.

Other ways to help hold loose soil in certain areas might be to place logs or branches along the edges of the trail.

Standing Water Issues: Hopefully the trail was originally designed to follow the contours of the terrain and not situated along places of natural water run-off or along a steep uphill or downhill climb. Running water can be quite powerful, and standing water can cause issues with footing, support of the trail, and even loss of the trail itself. Remember that water follows the path of least resistance.

If standing water becomes an issue, then a trail expert may be needed to determine what can help with a particular area’s issues. A drainage ditch, knick (an outsloped drain), a waterbar (a diagonal channel across a trail that diverts surface water), grade changes or reversals, outsloping/cross sloping (leaving the edge of a hillside trail lower than the inside to help shed water), or a rolling grade dip (a knick with a long ramp up on the downhill side) might be strategically placed to deal with the issue. It’s important to understand all of these options since using them incorrectly can cause water issues to worsen or cause issues as water runs to other undesirable locations, such as into another spot on the trail or into a fresh water source.

In addition to the methods above, simply trimming vegetation so sunlight can break through and dry out wet areas could help with standing water issues.

If an area becomes too wet for the foot traffic of horses and riders, it may be necessary to consider re-routing the trail to find drier terrain. Preventing mud through proper trail placement is often easier, and possibly cheaper, than trying to solve continuous issues.

Hazard Removal: One of the biggest hazards and nuisances for riders includes branches that have encroached into their riding space. These can be painful if a rider rides into the branch or if it is accidentally swung back into them or the horse.

Trail maintenance crews need to remove any hazards high enough that the tallest horse and rider can ride through uninjured (think 10 to 12 feet high). In addition, it’s important to consider removing any branches that could also start sagging for any reason, such as when winter snows weigh them down. Vegetation should be cut back in a manner to maintain the health of the plant.

The right tools need to be taken on the trail to remove any form of branch that becomes a hazard. Some tools to take with you include:

  • Chainsaws and axes, for removing logs and really thick branches
  • Garden hand clippers, for cutting small branches up to 1” in diameter
  • Pole saws, for cutting branches high in the air
  • Wire saws, for cutting trees up to 10” in diameter
  • Gloves, to protect hands while working
  • Rope, to pull logs out of the way
  • Hoes and shovels, for displacing dirt or for widening a path

Trash Removal: While it is always important to avoid leaving any trash behind in the first place, this principle is not always followed by everyone in nature. Therefore, trash removal becomes an important aspect of trail maintenance…not only for aesthetics, but also for the safety and health of wildlife in the area.

In addition, offering a sturdy and stable trash receptacle at trail heads or public areas can be important for helping trail users remember to keep nature clean.

Trail Markers: It’s important to make sure the trail is marked in all areas if it is not a clearly obvious and established trail. If signs and maps have become faded, fallen over, or gotten lost, make sure replacements are made and put in place as soon as possible. A rider lost in the woods can be a scary thing for them and loved ones awaiting their return from a ride. If tape is used to mark the trail, ensure that vegetation has not obscured it in any way. Ensure that fallen leaves and snow have also not become an issue for riders who need to spot markers.

Speaking of signs, it’s a good idea to add a sign with the trail’s name, the land owner’s name, and who to call in case of an emergency, if applicable.

Water crossings should also be well marked to minimize foot traffic across a water source and should aim to cross in a straight line if it is safe to do so. Sometimes water crossings might require a culvert or a small bridge.

And finally when thinking about marking trails, it may be necessary to block off any illegitimate trails that trail users may have started so that the entire trail system doesn’t degrade with the creation of these unplanned trails. Allowing horses to create alternate trails can lead to erosion or anger property owners who wish for riders to stay on marked trails only. It can also help riders avoid becoming lost by not allowing them to veer off of known trails, which would also make a lost rider harder for rescue crews to find.

Our final point is to always keep safety in mind when doing trail maintenance. While it may be easy to trim small branches from horseback, this should only be done from a steady, calm, reliable horse. Sharp blades and tools should never be carried by horseback. In addition, it’s important to ensure that you can safely transport tools to where you need to use them on the trail (again, not by horseback) and that you know how to safely use each tool. Make sure to follow typical safety precautions for each tool (e.g., using eye protection if you are using a weed trimmer).

If you wish to inquire about helping with trail maintenance in your local area, you can contact your state’s horse council or the Back Country Horseman of America (BCHA) to find a local chapter. In addition, with their motto of “Keeping Trails Open for Everyone,” BCHA has an abundance of information on protecting access of public lands to equestrians online at http://bcha.org.

Happy Trail Riding!

Sarah Evers Conrad is currently the Digital Content Editor at Horse Illustrated and Young Rider magazines. She also owns All In Stride Marketing. She is an award-winning equestrian journalist with a background in magazine publishing, feature writing, news and event coverage, editing, digital marketing, social media, and website management. Conrad has been published in equine publications such as The Horse, Blood-Horse, Equestrian, Arabian Horse Life, USDF Connection, the American Quarter Horse Journal, Paint Horse Journal, Off-Track Thoroughbred, Stable Management, Camp Business magazine, Lexington Family magazine, and HorsesDaily.com and DressageDaily.com. She is also the current editor for the Certified Horsemanship Association’s official publication, The Instructor magazine. Conrad has also edited several books, including CHA’s “The Equine Professional Manual—The Art of Teaching Riding.” Learn more at www.equestrianjournalist.com.

11 Tips from the Experts on Developing an Equestrian Camp Program

By Sarah Evers Conrad

This week we have two Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA) certified instructors and equestrian camp experts sharing tips with professionals wishing to start a camp program. Teddy Franke, a CHA Level 4 Certified Instructor in English and Western and a Level 3 Packing Guide, currently manages Morrow Ranch Camp in Wamic, OR. Corinne Lettau, a CHA Level 4 English and Level 2 Western Certified Instructor, owns Denver Equestrians, LLC, and the Colorado Equestrian Center in Littleton, CO. *For their full bios, see below.

Franke and Lettau shared 11 great suggestions with CHA for those who want to plan a riding camp, and CHA has multiple programs and certifications that can help camp managers develop and run their programs.   

Lettau’s suggestions include:

1. Always use safe horses. CHA has a variety of educational materials, including its CHA Standands for Equestrian Programs, its CHA Composite Horsemanship Manual, and articles that have been published in The Instructor magazine that can help educate people on how to find a safe horse, and how to have a safe facility, as well. In addition, the book Horse and Stable Management is part of CHA’s equine facilities manager certification program. Our last blog, titled “Finding a Great Lesson Horse: What to Look For and Consider Before You Shop,” can help camp managers determine if their current horses should be used in a camp program, or if they need to purchase or lease new horses, what qualities a camp horse should have.

http://cha-ahse.org/store/blog/Finding_a_Great_Lesson_Horse_What_to_Look_For_and_Consider_Before_You_Shop.html

2. Use CHA Certified Instructors. One of our first blog posts looked into “Why You Should Find a Certified Riding Instructor.” Many of the reasons listed apply to why a certified instructor should be used in your camp program. One of the top reasons is that CHA riding instructors have been thoroughly tested at a certification clinic to ensure they can teach safely while being effective and providing the student with a fun lesson. CHA certified instructors are tested on five of the most important aspects needed for a good instructor. These are: safety, horsemanship knowledge and ability, teaching techniques, group control, and responsibility and professionalism. A certified instructor knows how to teach and make judgment calls on the fly and deal with situations as they arise. In addition, having instructors with a certification shows the professionalism of your camp program and that you value hiring knowledgeable staff.

http://cha-ahse.org/store/blog/why_a_certified_instructor.html

3. Develop organized lesson plans. Camp instructors and managers can learn how to develop quality lesson plans through CHA’s continuing education opportunities. Sessions at the CHA International Conference, Regional Conferences and at a Certification Clinic often showcase how to plan lessons and organize lesson plans.

4. Develop fun games and horse-related educational activities for the kids. The key to this is to make sure the activities are safe, and since a camp is already using safe horses and has a CHA instructor, then this is a good start. It’s just a matter of letting creativity fly.

5. Provide an outline for the parents so they know what to expect. Good communication is always important between staff, parents, and the campers.

Franke’s suggestions include:

6. Develop leaders. “Camp horse programs can be life sucking for those who try to do it all on their own,” said Franke. “One thing that is especially hard for us horse people is to come to the realization that there are others who can do things as well or better than we can. Part of developing a program means being willing to give parts of your program away. Realize that when you empower another person to help you lead, it WILL be different than you would have done it, but that’s often okay.” One great way to empower staff and to help them succeed is to send staff to CHA skills clinics, regional clinics, the International Conference, and other continuing education events within the horse industry. This allows staff to learn the latest in horsemanship, horse care, horse training, riding, and teaching students.

7. Do what you like. When anyone is teaching a topic, whether it be a school teacher or a riding instructor, learning from someone who is passionate about the topic always makes for a better experience. And by teaching what you love, then you will love what you do and find fulfillment in your chosen profession. “If you don’t follow your passion, you won’t last long,” said Franke. “We sure aren’t in this for the money. Build your camp programs around the disciplines you find captivating. Chances are, if you really love it, you will draw others to it, too. Then down the road you will feel rewarded rather than drained.”

8. Follow standards. “In the horse industry every person has an opinion and no two people agree. At least that’s what I thought before I discovered the Certified Horsemanship Association,” said Franke. “CHA provides a set of industry standards for group riding programs. The standards provide the solid foundation for instructors and for your facility. If not CHA, find an organization that clearly defines your operational practices. This will help you ensure that your program is up to par.” For all of CHA’s standards, read the “CHA Standards for Equestrian Programs” manual, which can be purchased online at https://cha.horse/why-becoming-accredited-is-important-for-equestrian-programs-and-facilities/.

9. Build relationships. One way to build relationships is to network with other CHA professionals at CHA’s in-person events or through other forms of communication, such as email, social media, or by phone. CHA members often share valuable ideas and techniques with each other. “Camp programs of all types, horses included, are about relationships,” added Franke. “Set relationships as a priority, and people will want to be involved on many levels.”

10. Improve communication. “Require frequent, clear communication amongst your staff,” said Franke. “Communicate expectations and allow for failure. When you demand constant perfection, your staff and clients learn that you value tasks and programs over them. Camp should be about learning and growing together towards a goal.”

11. Find effective marketing techniques, and make sure that the general public is aware that you exist. Franke also recommends that you evaluate what types of marketing are effective by asking how people found your program and what made them want to check it out. “We have found that word of mouth is always the best advertising,” said Franke. “That said, nowadays having a simple, functional website that is easy to read, visually appealing, and easy to find is a critical piece, because it’s a landing zone where people first learn the details of your organization. We use a combination of web, social media, word of mouth, radio, billboards, and special events, such as parades and fairs. Showing horses can also help spark interest in a camp program.”

Franke also offered a list of questions that camp managers can use to evaluate their needs and determine what needs to be done before those first campers arrive.

  • Who are you trying to reach? Who is your clientele?
  • What types of programs do you have the expertise to run?
  • Where will you operate? What resources do you need?
  • What is your mission? Why are you starting this program?
  • What business model best fits your mission?
  • Who will manage or run the operation?
  • What legal hurdles could you potentially face?
  • How will people learn about what you are offering?
  • What is your marketing strategy?
  • How do you measure success?

Teddy Franke has been around camp programs most of his life. He grew up around Living Water Ranch Camp in Fairbanks, Alaska, where his parents were camp directors. He learned from the professionals that taught at Living Water Ranch Camp, and he learned from the programs that were offered to hundreds of people every year. In college, he pursued camping horsemanship and ministry by interning at a large camp in the Pacific Northwest. He currently spends time cowboying, starting colts, and managing the camp’s horse program. Camp Morrow provides faith-based programs in two separate facilities, Morrow Lake Camp and Morrow Ranch. The equine program includes day camps, overnight cattle drives, back country pack trips, week-long horse camps, school field trips, and themed camp sessions. For more information, visit CampMorrow.org.

Corinne Lettau said that CHA’s manuals and standardized testing motivated her as a young rider. She has not only become certified but she has studied dressage with some of the best instructors and clinicians in the United States. She took a hiatus from working to be a stay-at-home mom, but when her youngest started kindergarten, she started teaching again. “The transition into growing my own horse camp program was a natural one, and CHA was the company I wanted to model after, given my wonderful experience with them since the late 1970s,” said Lettau. Continuing education is important for the staff at the Denver Equestrians Riding School, which hosts CHA Instructor Certification Clinics, which are open to staff and non-staff. Denver Equestrians offers lessons for adults and children in hunt seat, dressage, jumping or western pleasure, as well as offering boarding training, youth riding clubs, show teams, adult programs, summer camps, birthday parties, leases, and horse sales. For more information, visit DenverEquestrians.com.

Sarah Evers Conrad is currently the Digital Content Editor at Horse Illustrated and Young Rider magazines. She also owns All In Stride Marketing. She is an award-winning equestrian journalist with a background in magazine publishing, feature writing, news and event coverage, editing, digital marketing, social media, and website management. Conrad has been published in equine publications such as The Horse, Blood-Horse, Equestrian, Arabian Horse Life, USDF Connection, the American Quarter Horse Journal, Paint Horse Journal, Off-Track Thoroughbred, Stable Management, Camp Business magazine, Lexington Family magazine, and HorsesDaily.com and DressageDaily.com. She is also the current editor for the Certified Horsemanship Association’s official publication, The Instructor magazine. Conrad has also edited several books, including CHA’s “The Equine Professional Manual—The Art of Teaching Riding.” Learn more at www.equestrianjournalist.com.

CHA Business/Program Members Share Their Experiences as CHA Members

By Sarah Evers Conrad

The Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA) has multiple options for membership. The Business/Program Membership is perfect for businesses and associations, such as camps, stables, schools, equine suppliers, and producers. There is a plethora of benefits for Business/Program Members, some of which include special advertising opportunities, free job postings on the CHA job board, a facility link on the CHA online database, marketing and advertising opportunities, continuing education for riding program staff, discounts on CHA products and services, discounts to the CHA International Conference and Regional Conferences, discounts at many tack shops, instructor liability insurance through Equisure and others, the ability to host CHA certification clinics and workshops, and much more. Annual dues are $200.00. In addition, if a Business/Program Member is also a CHA Accredited Site, they receive $25 per year off their annual dues.

Several CHA Business/Program Members wanted to share more about their experiences and benefits from their membership.

Eightfold Farms

Eightfold Farms co-owner and manager Hanna Gamble is CHA Certified at Level 4 for English and Level 3 for Western. She and her mother, Carol, purchased Eightfold Farms in April of 2015. The business became a Business/Program Member as well as a CHA Lifetime Member. This 174-acre facility overlooks the Red River in Benton, LA, and offers lessons, training, rehab, sales, facility rental, and more.

“Eightfold Farms is the manifestation of a lifelong dream, and I feel so blessed to be able to share this special place and safe horsemanship with the next generation,” says Gamble.

Gamble says that she takes pride in being a CHA member and certified instructor and having her actions and her program held to a professional standard. “The Certified Horsemanship Association is a well curated group of equestrian professionals, and it shows,” she adds.

Gamble originally heard about CHA from her first riding instructor, Sig North at Double Rainbow Farm in Haughton, LA. “I absolutely loved the structured learning curriculum and path to advancement that it provided,” adds Gamble. “By being introduced to correct horsemanship at such an early age, I was able to feel comfortable in all types of equestrian settings. These early experiences with CHA had a great impact on my development and are the reason I chose to become a CHA certified instructor and business.”

Gamble plans to use the CHA Instructors Directory this year to host clinics at her farm in the fall. In addition, she shares that CHA has improved her instruction program by increasing access to learning resources for her students and teaching resources for herself. When she teaches a beginning lesson, the student receives a CHA Level 1 Horsemanship Manual. “Students and parents alike love the clear progression of learning in the books,” she says.

For more information, please visit http://www.eightfoldfarms.com.

Marmon Valley Farm

The family-owned Marmon Valley Farm in Zanesfield, OH, is the largest Christian horse camp in Ohio. With 150 well-trained horses and ponies, Marmon Valley Farm has been specializing in horseback riding for more than 50 years for guests of all ages. This CHA Business/Program Member and Host Site offers riding lessons, pony rides, trail rides, special events, and an “Adopt-a-Horse” program for frequent riders to focus on one horse for riding and grooming without all the responsibilities of horse ownership.

Executive Director Matt Wiley is co-owner with his sister, Jane Olsen, while his wife, Kathy, serves as Lessons Coordinator. Wiley’s parents started Marmon Valley, which became a CHA member in 1968. “My father, Bill Wiley, saw the value of a progressive and standardized program and got involved to the point of running the CHA office from our camp for several years,” says Wiley. “It is helpful to see the results as campers return from year to year.”

“I think CHA is well designed for camp and lesson barns,” he adds, although he would love to see more private barns get involved and utilize the materials available through CHA at www.CHA.horse

For more information, please visit https://marmonvalley.com.

Houghton College and Riding Camp 

Houghton College in Houghton, NY, not only became a Business/Program Member, but it is a CHA Accredited Site and a CHA Host Site for clinics and workshops. It is also the site of the 2019 CHA International Conference. Joanne Young began directing the equestrian program at Houghton College in 1986. She is a CHA Clinician, a Trail Guide Instructor (Level 2), a Site Visitor Trainer, and a Lifetime CHA Member.

Houghton College is a Christian liberal arts college that offers CHA certification as part of its existing equine studies curriculum. Young describes the equine studies program further. “Houghton College Equestrian Program specializes in helping each equestrian student discover and develop the special skills, interests, and talents God gave them in a way that prepares her or him to serve/work/build a career in the best niche for them in the equestrian world.”

“I quickly realized the awesome networking available through CHA; the access to excellent educational materials; and the high standards for teaching, for horse care, and for safety would blend with and reinforce my goals for a high-quality program at Houghton College,” continues Young. “As soon as budget would allow, I had the college become a Business/Program Member, and I became an Individual Life Member.”

One fringe benefit for Young has been the wonderful friendships and connections that Young has made with “outstanding professional horsemen in many different disciplines and venues,” of which some have become internship mentors for Houghton College students.

Now that Young is semi-retired, Larissa Ries is the current program director and also a CHA Assistant Clinician for CHA’s Standard English/Western Certification and for the Equine Facility Managers Certification.

According to Young, being a CHA Business/Program Member has given nationwide exposure for the college’s equestrian program, has led to excellent jobs for some students, and has lent even greater credibility to the quality of equestrian education at Houghton College.

For more information, please visit http://www.houghton.edu/equestrian.

Blue Star Camps

Blue Star Camps in Hendersonville, NC, sits on 500 acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains and offers campers English riding instruction on specially trained, camp-owned horses with all instruction by CHA instructors, trail rides through the 10,400 acre forest preserve, and a camp-wide horse show. Blue Star Camps is a CHA Business/Program Member, an Accredited Site, and is a CHA Host Site.

Louise Hardman, Equestrian Director of Blue Star Camps, is a CHA Assistant Clinician for English and a Level 2 Western Instructor, along with being a Lifetime CHA Member. She believes that CHA Accreditation helps facilities and equine programs to strive for excellence.

Blue Star Camps joined as a Business/Program Member and became accredited to show potential and current customers that they care about operating Blue Star Camps using set safety and quality standards set by CHA, which are explained in CHA’s Standards for Equestrian Programs manual. “Just like certification gives an individual added legitimacy, site accreditation gives added legitimacy to those facilities who go through the process,” she adds. “It is a great way to show that you care to meet industry standards and that you care about the welfare of your animals, staff, and clients.”

Hosting a CHA certification has been a great way for all of the Blue Star Camps staff to become certified. “In addition, we open it to outside participants, which is a great way to meet more wonderful horse people,” adds Hardman.

For more information, please visit https://www.bluestarcamps.com.

If you would like to become a CHA Business/Program Member and take advantage of the benefits mentioned above, please visit .

Sarah Evers Conrad is currently the Digital Content Editor at Horse Illustrated and Young Rider magazines. She also owns All In Stride Marketing. She is an award-winning equestrian journalist with a background in magazine publishing, feature writing, news and event coverage, editing, digital marketing, social media, and website management. Conrad has been published in equine publications such as The Horse, Blood-Horse, Equestrian, Arabian Horse Life, USDF Connection, the American Quarter Horse Journal, Paint Horse Journal, Off-Track Thoroughbred, Stable Management, Camp Business magazine, Lexington Family magazine, and HorsesDaily.com and DressageDaily.com. She is also the current editor for the Certified Horsemanship Association’s official publication, The Instructor magazine. Conrad has also edited several books, including CHA’s “The Equine Professional Manual—The Art of Teaching Riding.” Learn more at www.equestrianjournalist.com.

the horse, horseback riding, training

The Top 15 Benefits of Horseback Riding

By Sarah Evers Conrad

Everyone has their own reasons for wanting to learn how to ride. The benefits of horseback riding are innumerable and are shared amongst all horseback riders. If you are already a rider, you may be thinking that you don’t need this information. But I hope you will continue reading. I imagine I am not the only horse person who has met people who could not understand why I loved riding so much. If you have too, the next time this happens, please share this blog post. And if someone is considering a new hobby, maybe the information below will help convince you to join the rider ranks.

I was first bitten by the horse bug at age five when I saw the movies “The Black Stallion” and “The Black Stallion Returns” for the first time. I was five. From that point on, I devoured any horse book I could get my hands on. At age 10, I was able to start horseback riding lessons. My parents finally gave in to all of the begging. Horseback riding has been my main hobby throughout my life. So I have experienced many of the benefits of horseback riding firsthand. I know that being involved with horses has led me to be the person I am today.

Let’s discuss some of the benefits you can expect to have from riding horses regularly.

Positive Character Traits

Horseback riding teaches responsibility to those who ride and even more so to those who take care of horses. Horse caretakers must know how to care for the horse during times of health and illness. Learning all about horse health, along with tack and farm care, involves a lot of time and responsibility in order to put that knowledge into practice every single day for the benefit of the horse. In addition, horseback riding teaches patience, discipline, understanding, empathy, compassion, self-control, and dedication. Without these traits, the rider will not go far in their horsemanship studies.

Physical Health

Horseback riding is physically demanding and can help you stay in shape. In fact, it is now considered moderate-intensity exercise after the 2011 publication of a study commissioned by the British Horse Society (BHS) to look at the physical health, psychological, and well-being benefits of recreational riding. The study was done through the University of Brighton with help from Plumpton College.

To be considered moderate-intensity, researchers determined that riding must be done for at least half an hour or more, three times per week. This level of activity meets England’s recommendations for minimal level of activity and beyond. In addition, activities associated with riding burns energy at a moderate intensity. Horseback riding can burn hundreds of calories, as does grooming and saddling. Please note: Actual calories burned depends on body weight, workout intensity, conditioning level, and metabolism. 

Riders can develop better reflexes and a sense of balance and coordination as they use their entire body to guide and propel the horse forward. Riding also offers cardio benefits. Riding, lifting saddles onto the back of a horse, mucking stalls, moving hay bales, etc., builds muscles and physical strength.

Problem-Solving

Riders must learn to problem solve and make quick decisions from the back of the horse. For instance, if a horse is set on going one way and the rider wants to go the other, he/she has to determine how to make a 1,000-pound animal go the direction that the rider has chosen in a humane and safe way. The unexpected can happen and riders must think quickly in the saddle to remain safe and in control.

Psychological Health

The study completed by the BHS concluded that horseback riding stimulated mainly positive psychological feelings. More than 80% of rider questionnaire responses claim that horseback riding made them feel “quite a lot” or “extremely cheerful, relaxed, happy, or active.” Learning to ride develops confidence and self-esteem. When a rider learns how to stay on and also meet goals set by a riding instructor or themselves, those feelings of “I can do this,” really make an impact. After all, riding is not easy. And not everyone can do it. Becoming a skilled rider means that you have a skill many people do not. In addition to self confidence, riders may gain an increase in self-esteem and self-image.

Companionship

Horses are social creatures just like humans. Being able to communicate and interact with an animal has already been shown to have a positive effect on people, as has been experienced by those involved with therapeutic riding programs. As a past volunteer for therapeutic riding programs, I have seen children who would not talk much with people. But when they were around horses, they opened up and communication was not a problem. The children saw the therapy horse as their companion and confidante. According to the BHS study, one of the biggest motivations for going horseback riding was “interaction with horses.” Horses make wonderful companion animals and many equestrians call horses their best friends.

Socialization

If we look at the benefits that therapeutic riding has been shown to give to riders, improved interpersonal skills and socialization skills are on the list. Equestrians know they are never alone in this hobby. Riders will socialize with their horses, each other, their riding instructors, employees at the barn, those at competitions, etc. The horse industry is a very social community full of people who will help each other and help care for other horses.

At every barn I have ever been, I developed friends and sometimes lifelong relationships. I have seen people help each other countless times during shows, trail rides, riding lessons, and just hanging out around the barn. In addition, those who ride are members of a variety of horse organizations…from breed registries, to sports organizations, discipline-specific organizations, local clubs, etc. Once you ride, you become part of this entire new world.

  

Competition

Those who like to compete have a number of disciplines and horse sports to choose from in order to compete with their equine partner. From hunter/jumpers to reining, to dressage, driving, eventing, vaulting, polo, trail classes, gaited competitions, to western events like reined cow and barrel racing–the options are endless.

Transportation

Let’s not forget the main reason that people domesticated horses and began riding in the first place: for transportation. People decided that horses would be a great mode of transportation, and this greatly changed the course of history. Many cultures still use horses for this reason. And for those who weren’t in to riding, eventually man learned to drive horses.

The World from Horseback

Horseback riding offers a way to see the world. I know that trail riding has been one of my favorite ways to spend time on horseback. Whether it was riding through the fields and woods of my home state of Virginia, or to the snowy landscape of Ohio during winter, to cantering down the beach in Florida on vacation, to riding through swamps and the lowlands of South Carolina, trail riding has allowed me to see parts of the country I never would have otherwise. It is a great way to see the world doing something you absolutely love.

A Return to Nature

Horseback riding brings us out into the fresh air and closer to nature. Our society spends so much time indoors. We should take every opportunity we can to get outside for some exercise and fresh air with one of our most beautiful animals. In fact, this is why many riders started riding according to questionnaire respondents from the BHS study. Eighty percent of respondents ranked “contact with nature” and “scenery and views” as “important,” “very important,” or “extremely important.”

Relaxation

Horseback riding is relaxing. In fact, therapeutic riding has shown to reduce muscle spasticity as tight muscles are stretched due to the natural motion of the horse. We know going for a walk can be relaxing. When a horse walks with a rider on his back, the rider’s pelvis moves in the same motion as if he or she were walking. In addition, riding has been known to increase the range of motion of joints, allowing riders to move more freely.

Lifestyle

Being a horseback rider can leads to a certain lifestyle. But that is for the rider to determine what kind of lifestyle with horses they wish to have. For instance, some love to be rough and wild on the range with a ranch and working horses. On the opposite end of the spectrum might be the rider who travels from show to show in an effort to win ribbons and be the best rider on a circuit or in a show series. Or maybe you want to just be a weekend warrior and ride occasionally. And there are many different lifestyles and variations, and the ability to create a totally unique lifestyle.

Career

And since I have worked in the horse industry as a journalist, one of the benefits of my horseback riding experience has also been a means of livelihood for me. I wouldn’t have wanted to begin my career in journalism any other way. And the same is true for so many people I know…the benefits of horseback riding led them to find a career with horses.

Love and the Human-Animal Bond

There is nothing like loving a horse, except for knowing that the same horse loves you back. The human-animal bond is one of the best reasons to learn to ride. Horses are willing to become true partners with their riders. If treated with respect, kindness, and love, then the bond that develops is truly amazing and inspiring.

Fun

Anyone who has sat on the back of a horse knows that it is just plain fun. After all, why else would equestrians spend so much of their money and so much of their time on horses. Because it is worth it. Riding can make you feel more alive than other hobbies. There is an adventurousness to it. It offers freedom, movement, and makes amazing feats of athleticism possible. And there is a total thrill with galloping across an open field, in tune with your mount.

I don’t regret a single hour I have spent with horses. Not every moment on horseback is like the scene from a movie where the star rides off into the sunset. Just like learning any new skill, learning to ride involves hard work and dedication. Add in some dirty stalls, stubborn horses, chores by the bucketload, and exhausting days and you will have the time of your life.

So I am curious, what are your favorite benefits of horseback riding? Share with us in the comments below.   

Sarah Evers Conrad is currently the Digital Content Editor at Horse Illustrated and Young Rider magazines. She also owns All In Stride Marketing. She is an award-winning equestrian journalist with a background in magazine publishing, feature writing, news and event coverage, editing, digital marketing, social media, and website management. Conrad has been published in equine publications such as The Horse, Blood-Horse, Equestrian, Arabian Horse Life, USDF Connection, the American Quarter Horse Journal, Paint Horse Journal, Off-Track Thoroughbred, Stable Management, Camp Business magazine, Lexington Family magazine, and HorsesDaily.com and DressageDaily.com. She is also the current editor for the Certified Horsemanship Association’s official publication, The Instructor magazine. Conrad has also edited several books, including CHA’s “The Equine Professional Manual—The Art of Teaching Riding.” Learn more at HYPERLINK “http://www.equestrianjournalist.com” www.equestrianjournalist.com.

Julie Goodnight, Photo by Whole Picture

Why CHA’s Individual Membership is a Good Idea

By Sarah Evers Conrad

Being part of a business organization is important for business owners, and the horse industry has a variety of business organizations that people can join as members. The Certified Horsemanship Association offers valuable benefits to its members. The membership is made up of horseback riding instructors; driving instructors or vaulting coaches; trail guides; staff or managers at equine facilities, schools, or camps; equine education professionals; extension agents; and people aspiring to one of those positions. According to Terri Weaver, CHA’s Membership Services Director, “CHA is the premiere organization for riding instructors in North America. Joining CHA makes you part of a community of like-minded individuals who focus on safety in horseback riding instruction.”

There are different benefits based on the level of membership and the certification or accreditation achieved. For instance, Individual Members receive different benefits (mentioned below) than a Business/Program Member receives. Furthermore, CHA Individual Members who become certified receive additional benefits to the ones listed below. Furthermore, Business/Program Members that become Site Accredited receive even more benefits. We will take a look at the different levels. First, let’s look at the benefits that Individual Members receive.

The Top 12 Benefits to Individual Membership

  • The most popular benefit that draws people to the Certified Horsemanship Association is the ability to maintain a professional riding instructor certification or one of its other certifications.

And it isn’t just a piece of paper to make you “official.” CHA members like that CHA’s certification is a rigorous program that requires a multi-day intensive certification clinic, where they are required to demonstrate their ability to be an instructor in front of two of CHA’s Certified Clinicians and a group of their peers. This gives more credibility to a CHA Certified Instructor than someone who has a certification from an organization that only certifies by video. CHA’s hands-on certification clinics ensure that all instructors are being certified to the correct level through a hands-on demonstration of their skills and knowledge. Certification clinics are also very affordable, usually ranging from $600-$900, and that fee generally includes lodgings, meals, manuals, and certification fees. To learn more about why a CHA Certification is beneficial, read the section titled, “The Importance of Certification from CHA” in our blog post Why You Should Find a Certified Riding Instructor.
http://cha-ahse.org/store/blog/why_a_certified_instructor.html

  • Being a member of a professional organization such as CHA can reassure your clients/customers that you are indeed a professional. With access to an organization that offers a variety of benefits, your membership helps you to operate your business as an informed and educated business owner vs. someone who teaches riding for a few extra bucks. Don’t forget that your CHA membership and costs related to certification or continuing education are tax-deductible business expenses.
  • All Individual Members receive a subscription to CHA’s yearly magazine, The Instructor. In addition, thanks to the partnerships that CHA has developed, members also receive a free subscription to the biannual Stable Management magazine and to the monthly publications of Trail Rider and Equus. Subscription to all of these publications would equal more than the cost of the Individual Membership alone. Therefore this is another favorite benefit cited by members.
  • CHA provides a plethora of FREE educational materials to its members through a variety of mediums, such as its two websites of cha-ahse.org and chainstructors.com, safety videos that anyone can use on their website or share on social media, a variety of horsemanship manuals, a monthly radio show through the Horse Radio Network, posters, this blog, and much more. CHA Members also get a discount on its monthly educational webinars. Your membership dollars get put to good use through CHA’s continuing education efforts. (add links to these items)
  • It is important for anyone operating an equine business to have insurance due to possible liability issues. CHA members get discounts with almost any insurance carrier. This is another major benefit to membership. You will need to mention your membership and ask what kind of discount the insurance carrier offers. For an additional fee, members can purchase instructor liability insurance and/or a personal excess liability insurance policy, which is in addition to the primary liability insurance, through Equisure.
  • Another great benefit is listing in the Online Membership Directory at chainstructors.com, however this is only for CHA members that hold a certification or accreditation (Individual Members and Business/Program Members). However, this is such a great benefit for promotion of your business that we are including in this list, even though members who are not certified won’t be listed. CHA’s certified instructors are also promoted through other programs and initiatives that CHA is involved with.
  • Each Individual Member can vote, can serve as a candidate to be on the board of directors, is able to participate on committees, and can volunteer.
  • Members have access to CHA’s senior management and can ask for technical support when they have questions regarding their program or facility.
  • Members get discounts on a lot of the products and services sold through CHA at CHA events and through their online store. CHA also offers discounts to members on advertising in The Instructor, the e-newsletter, event programs, etc. In addition, members can place a FREE classified ad in the monthly e-newsletter (up to 25 words). Members looking for employees can advertise jobs through CHA. Although it varies by tack shop, CHA members also can get discounts at most tack shops if you show proof of membership and ask about a discount.
  • One of the best benefits to CHA Individual Membership is the discounts to CHA’s events, such as its skills clinics and regional and international conferences.
  • If you are becoming certified for the first time, CHA offers the remainder of your first year’s membership for FREE at the completion of your first certification clinic. Keep in mind that the next year, in order to keep your certification level, you must renew your CHA membership, and you must become re-certified every three years.
  • Members of CHA have amazing networking opportunities with other CHA members through CHA events, the private Facebook group, and through participation on committees or the board of directors. Since most of the membership is certified, and with CHA’s high standards required to receive certification, you know you are networking with a group of very knowledgeable horsemen and horsewomen.

Membership begins every year on January 1. If you are a current member, now is the time to renew for 2015. And if you are new to CHA, then signing up as early in the year as possible means more value for your money. Membership is only $55 for one year. If you wish to join for two or three years at a time so you don’t have to worry about renewing every year, then that option is available. If you plan to be a riding instructor or staff at an equine facility for 14 years or more, there is a lifetime membership of $750. That means that after 14 years, you are in essence a CHA member for FREE, although recertification every three years is still required. That is a great value since many members have been instructors for much longer than 14 years.

Keep in mind that additional benefits are available to those that become CHA Certified Riding Instructors and those that go on to have their facility site accredited.

Next time, we will discuss the benefits that a Business/Program Member receives, so stay tuned to the blog for more information on CHA Membership. In the meantime, feel free to comment below and tell us what your favorite benefit of membership is or if we missed any.

Sarah Evers Conrad is currently the Digital Content Editor at Horse Illustrated and Young Rider magazines. She also owns All In Stride Marketing. She is an award-winning equestrian journalist with a background in magazine publishing, feature writing, news and event coverage, editing, digital marketing, social media, and website management. Conrad has been published in equine publications such as The Horse, Blood-Horse, Equestrian, Arabian Horse Life, USDF Connection, the American Quarter Horse Journal, Paint Horse Journal, Off-Track Thoroughbred, Stable Management, Camp Business magazine, Lexington Family magazine, and HorsesDaily.com and DressageDaily.com. She is also the current editor for the Certified Horsemanship Association’s official publication, The Instructor magazine. Conrad has also edited several books, including CHA’s “The Equine Professional Manual—The Art of Teaching Riding.” Learn more at www.equestrianjournalist.com.

The Certified Horsemanship Association office, Kentucky

12 Benefits for Equine Businesses That Join the Certified Horsemanship Association

By Sarah Evers Conrad

Today is the second-part of our two part series on the benefits offered by the Certified Horsemanship Association to its members. Last time, we talked about the benefits of Individual Membership, which encompasses instructors; coaches; equine educational professionals; extension agents; trail guides; staff and managers at equine facilities, schools, and camps; etc. If you fit in that group, you can learn more if you read, “Why CHA’s Individual Membership is a Good Idea.”

Business/Program Members receive their own set of benefits. This membership group is for equine businesses or associations; stables, camps, and schools; as well as equine suppliers and producers. One important thing to know is that benefits are for the company as a whole or go to one designated representative of the company. If individual staff want certain benefits, they should look into the Individual Membership category.

The Top 12 Benefits to Business/Program Membership

  • Site Accreditation: The biggest benefit for Business/Program Members is that they are eligible to become Site Accredited. Just like Individual Members who are certified have added benefits as a result of their certification, Business/Program Members that have gotten their Site Accreditation receive added benefits. If you are a Business/Program Member that has become Site Accredited, it shows potential and current customers that you care about operating your business using set safety and quality standards set by CHA and explained in CHA’s Standards for Equestrian Programs Manual. Just like certification gives an individual added legitimacy, Site Accreditation gives added legitimacy to those facilities who go through the process. It is a great way to show that you care to meet industry standards and that you care about the welfare of your animals.
  • Promotion of Your Facility: One of the biggest benefits for Business/Program Members is listing in the online database on CHAInstructors.com. However, it is important to note that your business must be Site Accredited for listing. To continue the listing, Site Accreditation must be current and renewed every three years through written and photographic documentation. This online database includes Certified Individual Members as well and is marketed by CHA throughout the equine industry. This additional marketing acts as an added way to market your business.
  • Insurance Discounts: Discounts on liability insurance and personal excess liability insurance are another major benefit for Business/Program Members. Members will need to ask the insurance company for the discount, and if the insurance company has not heard of CHA, then CHA will provide the insurance company with a letter and a copy of CHA’s Standards for Equestrian Programs Manual. A facility has never been turned down (up to this point) for a discount, and the discount has always been at least 10%. In addition, facilities that are Site Accredited can get a deeper discount.
  • The Benefits of Individual Membership: Business/Program Members receive most of the benefits that Individual Members receive. For more details, see our last blog. However, to summarize, these benefits include subscriptions to magazines (CHA’s The Instructor, Stable Management, Trail Rider, and Equus), free educational materials provided by CHA, the ability to vote and participate on the board of directors and committees, access to CHA’s senior management to ask for technical support on their program or facility, discounts at tack shops with proof of membership, and networking opportunities with other CHA members at events and online in the private Facebook group.
  • Event Discounts: Business/Program Members receive discounts for their representatives that they send to CHA events, such as the annual CHA International Conference, regional conferences, and certification clinics, skills clinics, and workshops.
  • Certification Clinic Hosts: Business/Program Members are the only ones allowed to host CHA certification clinics and workshops. Those who wish to host an event must submit an application to CHA and be approved, but site accreditation is not required. Hosting a clinic or workshop can be a great way for a stable, school, or camp to have all of their staff become certified in the most economical way possible. In addition, if the clinic is opened to outside participants, it could be a way to offset the cost of running a clinic for their own staff or could provide added income from outside participant registration. Please note: CHA is not involved with the costs of running the clinic, but a contract must be entered into between the host facility and the CHA Clinic Staff who will certify participants. The registration fee is set by the facility and generally includes lodgings, meals, manuals, and certification fees.
  • Advertising: Business/Program Members are allowed to advertise in CHA’s monthly e-newsletter and receive a free classified ad once per year (up to 25 words). There are also extra marketing and advertising opportunities and discounts with CHA in their magazine, event programs, and online.
  • Job Postings: Business/Program Members are the only ones who can post FREE job postings online and discounted job postings in the monthly e-newsletter.
  • Listing On Both Websites: Business/Program Members can receive a link, a brief description of their business, and their logo on the CHA main website and CHAInstructors.com under the navigation heading of “Find Equine Facilities” on the page “Equine Business and Association Links.”
  • Volume Discounts: Business/Program Members receive volume discounts on CHA merchandise, such as books and program materials.
  • Business Contacts: Since most of CHA’s membership is certified, and with CHA’s high certification and accreditation standards, you know you are part of a group of very knowledgeable horsemen and horsewomen and aligned with other businesses and associations who care about safety standards and welfare of the horse. CHA provides a great way to connect with each other for business and social purposes.
  • Tax Deduction: CHA Business/Program Membership and costs related to Site Accreditation, hosting a certification clinic, or attending CHA events for continuing education are tax-deductible business expenses.

Business/Program Membership is only $200 and those that are Site Accredited receive a $25 discount. Lifetime Business/Program Membership is $2,500. Membership runs by calendar year, so current Business/Program Members who wish to renew for 2015 should do so by January 1 so that their membership benefits are not interrupted. Those who want to be new members will receive the most value if they join by January 1 or as soon in the year as possible.

CHA is a very welcoming organization for all its members. CHA thanks every single member for your participation, ideas, and time. Each member is what makes CHA what it is today.

If your organization is a Business/Program Member, let us know in the comments below what the best benefit has been for your company or equine program and how long you have been a member.

Sarah Evers Conrad is currently the Digital Content Editor at Horse Illustrated and Young Rider magazines. She also owns All In Stride Marketing. She is an award-winning equestrian journalist with a background in magazine publishing, feature writing, news and event coverage, editing, digital marketing, social media, and website management. Conrad has been published in equine publications such as The Horse, Blood-Horse, Equestrian, Arabian Horse Life, USDF Connection, the American Quarter Horse Journal, Paint Horse Journal, Off-Track Thoroughbred, Stable Management, Camp Business magazine, Lexington Family magazine, and HorsesDaily.com and DressageDaily.com. She is also the current editor for the Certified Horsemanship Association’s official publication, The Instructor magazine. Conrad has also edited several books, including CHA’s “The Equine Professional Manual—The Art of Teaching Riding.” Learn more at www.equestrianjournalist.com.

Evolution of the Certified Horsemanship Association: From the Beginnings to Today’s Programs and Accomplishments

By Sarah Evers Conrad

The Certified Horsemanship Association’s 50th Anniversary will be in 2017, and even though we are still two years out from that momentous year, we can celebrate what CHA has accomplished in its amazing history to-date. The Certified Horsemanship Association has a long history of involvement with certifying riding instructors and has certified over 25,000 individuals since its beginning in 1967. The organization currently serves around 3,500 active members, which include individual members, businesses and equine facility members, non-profits, and others in the horse industry. Since every horse person strives for safe experiences around horses, CHA’s Mission Statement, “To promote excellence in safety and education for the benefit of the entire horse industry,” showcases the importance of CHA within the horse industry.

CHA’s Growth from the Early Days
The vision of CHA began with Dan Hemphill. Hemphill was a camp owner in Texas who was hiring high school and college students to help with his riding camps. He noticed a need for one organization that could set standards and certify instructors based on those standards. CHA started out with the name Camp Horsemanship Association until the 1980s when it was renamed as the Certified Horsemanship Association.

Now the organization is run by a small professional staff and the board of directors which seats volunteers from all 12 of CHA’s regions. CHA also offers the following committees: Marketing/Membership, Finance, Education and Training, Research and Development, International Conference, and the International Clinics Ad-Hoc Committee.

The organization’s certification program has expanded well beyond just camp staff. It now includes certification in the following areas: Standard Arena Instruction in English and Western, Trail Guide, Combined Trail and Arena, Instructors of Riders with Disabilities, Seasonal Equestrian Staff, College/University, Equine Facility Managers, Driving Instructor and Certified Driver, Vaulting Coach, and Site Accreditation.

In addition to certification, a Site Accreditation program was started. CHA also began offering educational conferences, complete student curriculums, achievement awards for students, and it also gives out awards to its members in various areas.

CHA’s Awards Program Beginnings
CHA’s Awards Program began in 1996 with the first CHA Partners in Safety Award, which honors an individual or organization that has helped the equine industry and CHA, as well as the equine community at-large in promoting safety and awareness. In addition, that same year the first CHA Volunteer of the Year Award was given. It was fitting that one of the first awards created honors an outstanding volunteer, since CHA has really relied on and grown thanks to the many volunteers that help with CHA’s mission.

In 2002, CHA started honoring the top school horses with the CHA School Horse of the Year Award, and the partnership with Stone Horses has allowed the owner of the winning horse to receive a lifelike Stone Horse model from the company. The next year, CHA added the CHA Clinic Instructor of the Year and the CHA Instructor of the Year Awards to honor those outstanding instructors and clinicians who personify the ideals of “safe, effective, and fun” during their lessons and clinics. The final CHA award, the CHA Distinguished Service Award, was added in 2009 as a lifetime achievement award for an individual who has gone above and beyond throughout the years to promote and uphold the mission of CHA.

Evolution of CHA’s Educational Materials
In 1969, Hemphill and a group of instructors created the first printed horsemanship and safety standards called the Camp Horsemanship Manual. Today, it has evolved into the CHA Composite Manual of Horsemanship Levels 1-4 and the various manuals for each level. Over the years, it has been edited and revised by CHA staff, the board, and specially chosen leaders from within the horse industry. It is currently undergoing another revision, set for publishing in 2016 or 2017.

This guide was the first set of safety and horsemanship standards in North America and is a collaboration from equine professionals in a variety of breeds and disciplines. As CHA Master Instructor and Clinician Julie Goodnight writes in the Forward of the latest composite manual, “The sheer fact that scores of horse people can come together and agree upon the best methods for teaching horsemanship is a great feat…This manual contains a tried and true curriculum for the safest and most effective methods of teaching horsemanship. It is one of the most comprehensive manuals of horsemanship on the market today.”

The Composite Manual was just the beginning of CHA’s production of educational materials. In addition, CHA now produces the CHA Standards for Equestrian Programs. This manual lists standards for a safe equestrian facility so that facilities and individuals can develop an individualized program based around safety. Facilities follow these published guidelines to achieve CHA Site Accreditation. Additional guidelines have been added to the Standards for Equestrian Programs as CHA grew to include certification options for instructors involved with vaulting, trail, driving, and riders for disabilities, along with a certification for equine facility managers.

Over the years, CHA’s educational materials have been used in equine programs large and small, including top-notch programs at various colleges and universities, the US Pony Club, PATH International, 4H programs, and more.

As CHA has grown, it has added more educational materials. Additional guides include the Trail Guide Manual, Riding Instructor and Trail Guide Manual, Standards for Group Riding Programs, a combination manual, and Ready to Ride? Finding a Program and Getting Prepared for Your Adventure.

CHA’s official magazine, The Instructor, has grown from a black-and-white four-page publication to a beautiful four-color magazine with informative features and important information about CHA for its members and non-members alike. Other educational content includes content on its two websites (www.CHA-AHSE.org and www.CHAInstructors.com), monthly e-blasts with educational articles and news, YouTube videos that are available for people to embed on their websites, CHA’s blog, webinars, posters, educational DVDs, a mini level CD, and a monthly segment on the Horses in the Morning radio show/podcast, etc. Members also receive free subscriptions to Trail Rider, Equus, and Stable Management magazines.

In addition to CHA’s educational materials, CHA’s communication avenues have grown due to their active presence on various social media platforms. We discussed all of those options last month in the blog post titled, “Socially CHA.” To connect with us, you can see all the options within that post.

CHA is also proud to be partnered with some great corporate sponsors in the horse industry. These partners are discussed in “CHA’s Partnerships with Other Top Equine Organizations Offers Benefits to All.” CHA values its partners and looks forward to more partnerships in the future.

The Certified Horsemanship Association has grown tremendously since Hemphill’s original vision, and the organization owes its success to its members, volunteers, board of directors, staff, and partners. With so many people working toward the success of this equine non-profit, the sky is the limit in the future, and CHA hopes others will join us for the ride.

Sarah Evers Conrad is currently the Digital Content Editor at Horse Illustrated and Young Rider magazines. She also owns All In Stride Marketing. She is an award-winning equestrian journalist with a background in magazine publishing, feature writing, news and event coverage, editing, digital marketing, social media, and website management. Conrad has been published in equine publications such as The Horse, Blood-Horse, Equestrian, Arabian Horse Life, USDF Connection, the American Quarter Horse Journal, Paint Horse Journal, Off-Track Thoroughbred, Stable Management, Camp Business magazine, Lexington Family magazine, and HorsesDaily.com and DressageDaily.com. She is also the current editor for the Certified Horsemanship Association’s official publication, The Instructor magazine. Conrad has also edited several books, including CHA’s “The Equine Professional Manual—The Art of Teaching Riding.” Learn more at www.equestrianjournalist.com.

Tightening the Belt: Tips for Cutting Expenses

Horse professionals are used to operating on thin margins without sacrificing care or customer service. However, there are times when cutting expenses may be necessary. For some, it can be a chore, but can also be an opportunity to get creative in finding ways of trimming costs while still providing the necessities. Here are four ideas for reducing expenses without cutting corners on the care horses need.

Negotiate rates
When bills come due, it’s routine to just pay them. For some, services such as insurance, discounts and negotiations may be possible. Valerie McCloskey CHA Director from Rome, New York called her insurance agent when her state issued pandemic restrictions prohibited visitors, slashing her lesson program.

“Most of the cost in our premiums is liability due to lessons,” she says. “I asked that if the current situation goes on for months and I’m not teaching on the farm if that could go down.”

Cell phone carriers and television providers are notorious for undercutting competitors rates to gain a new client. Shop around and compare prices. Saving on several bills can add up.

Making the most of on property resources
Horses need to eat and scrimping on hay or feed quality isn’t an option. However, stables with property may be able to rely on grazing to provide the horse’s nutritional needs. Turning horses out on well-maintained pastures not only reduces hay and grain, it also reduces bedding use and the labor required to clean stalls. Some horses might not need as many supplements if they are not working as well.

Delaying expenses
Routine vet and farrier visits are necessities for keeping healthy horses. However, delaying certain services may be an option. For example, if a horse isn’t competing and is sound, routine trimming may suffice. Similarly, it may be possible to postpone maintenance appointments like chiropractic care, acupuncture or dental work when a healthy horse is temporarily not working.

Buy in bulk
Purchasing large quantities costs more up front but can provide significant savings over the long term. Buying in bulk also means room for storage is necessary. 

“I try to order hay in larger loads for a better price,” says Amy Obringer a CHA Regional Director and Certified Instructor from California. “I’m always looking for deals on supplements and medications and I share vet fees when I can.”

Barn Time is a Stress Reliever, Especially During Times of Uncertainty

When a pandemic limits or prohibits clients from stopping by it’s still possible to keep clients connected and progressing in their training. When New York state restricted boarders’ access to stables, CHA Regional Director and Certifier Valerie McCloskey from Rome, New York got creative. Here she shares how she’s staying connected with clients at her Whisper Wind Equestrian Centre facility when they can’t be there in-person.

Groundwork Mondays
McCloskey requires boarders to take one lesson a week. When her state’s emergency response plan prohibited visitors, she knew the horses needed to stay in shape. In addition to riding the horses for clients, she introduced “Groundwork Mondays.”

“We take five second video clips of the horses in groundwork sessions and send it to each owner with a little feedback report,” she says. “It lets everybody know how their horse did and gives them a chance to see their horse.”

Virtual lessons
Teaching on digital platforms isn’t a new concept. Skype, GoogleHangouts, FaceTime and other platforms make it convenient for off-site, real-time coaching sessions.

“The rider wears a blue tooth device to hear me, while someone on the ground videos them,” says McCloskey.

If a live coaching session isn’t an option, clients submit a video for review. She watches and provides feedback by phone or email.

Social media
Instagram, Facebook, SnapChat and messenger services make it easier than ever to stay in touch. McCloskey put the stable’s private Facebook group to use adding daily updates and snapshots of the day’s activities.

“We opened the stall doors, let the horses stick their heads out for treats and posted it to our private page so that everyone at least gets to see their horse,” she says.

Pursue projects
Slower schedules means there is time to start a new project. McCloskey always wanted to offer instructional videos on a YouTube channel, but never found the time.

“It was something I always wanted to do. If all goes as planned, I’ll be posting new videos once a week,” she says.

Moving forward
Sticking to a normal routine and doing daily chores helps. “Put your head down, put your tail to the wind and trudge on through and try to keep things as normal as possible and know you’re not alone,” McCloskey says.

Julie Goodnight, Photo by Whole Picture

Establishing a True Partnership Between Horse and Riding Student

Establishing a True Partnership Between Horse and Riding Student

By Leigh Cooper

As instructors, we face challenges teaching communication and partnership between our student and the lesson horse. Some students’ horse time is often limited to a one-hour weekly lesson. They may not be able to spend hours observing horses in the pasture or participating in the daily care of the horses they ride. Despite these constraints, we can still show our students how to develop a partnership with a horse through mutual understanding.

An effective partnership requires an open channel of communication between two parties. So for us to be effective riders, we must first become listening riders. To facilitate this communication, we need to use a partnership-focused language, encourage our students to listen to feedback from the horse, and help them utilize that information.

The first step toward partnership is to encourage a two-way communication mindset.

Simply rephrasing how we speak about the horse can influence the rider’s mindset. We may be quick to dismiss a horse as “lazy, stubborn, or naughty,” but such language puts the focus on the horse being at fault, which disregards important feedback from our equine partner. By eliminating the notion that the horse is actively working against the rider, you foster an environment that is based on teamwork.

In addition, consider the difference in “make” versus “ask.” If we tell our student to “make” the horse do something, the answer is black and white—the horse either does or doesn’t do it. This teaches the student to believe the task must happen in order to accomplish something. In turn, this might cause the student to unconsciously tune out feedback from the horse in an effort to reach the desired result.

In contrast, saying “ask your horse to trot” instructs the student to give the cue, and if the message was not received by the horse, the instructor and student can troubleshoot the cause together: How was the message unclear, and how can we improve on it so the horse understands?

Second, we must encourage the student to be an active listener.

Have the student halt in the middle of the arena and then have him or her ask the horse to move forward on a loose rein. The student should note how the horse responds to the cue to move forward. Did the horse respond to the lightest cue, or did the rider need to escalate aids to initiate a response? Did the horse pin his ears? Is the horse focused on something outside the arena, or is he relaxed and listening? Are the horse’s muscles tense with his head raised? Does the horse step out willingly, or does he slow to a stop?

Once the horse is moving forward, ask the student to let the horse walk freely around the arena. The horse will drift to areas where he feels most comfortable or to where he has received a reward in the past, such as near the gate or in the middle of the arena. Have the student discuss where the horse’s attention is focused and what specific locations he feels most comfortable.

Now that a question has been asked of the horse, you can finally encourage the student to discuss what he or she learned from the horse’s response.

A horse focused on something outside the arena may have ignored the rider’s cues for different reasons than the horse that wanted to just plod along and/or stop. From the moment the student mounted the horse, he or she should be thinking, “What kind of rider do I need to be today to best communicate with my horse?”

The student must be open to change based on the feedback received from the horse. The rider also needs to learn that every horse will require a different approach to achieve two-way communication. This helps the student develop successful horse-human partnerships as he or she opens up to an individualized dialog.

For example, a student that starts out with loud cues, such as digging in with heels to get the horse to walk on, might find that the horse jumped forward, raised his head, and pins his ears. Noting that feedback, the student can try again, knowing from the first time that the horse was not comfortable with that amount of pressure.

Students should also learn that if the horse is struggling to find an answer to our question, it is the rider’s responsibility to acknowledge the misunderstanding and improve the communication.

Our goal is to have our student become a listening rider, one that strive for a working relationship with his or her horse. We don’t necessarily speaking the horse’s language, but we must find common ground to build a dialog that both horse and rider can tap into.

Teaching a student to listen to the horse helps him or her to realize that horses are not robots. Horses think and feel. Therefore, maintaining a line of communication with each horse is integral to effective riding. Each student must develop the habit of constantly checking in with the horse and use any feedback to build solid horse-and-rider partnerships. By learning to listen to the horse, even a rider that is limited to a few lessons a month can learn to build a partnership with any horse.

 

CHA Board, Photo by Moving Images NW

Educational Opportunities for Equestrians Available at CHA Regional Conferences

Educational Opportunities for Equestrians Available at CHA Regional Conferences

By Sarah Evers Conrad

Are you looking for a way to boost your horsemanship skills? Do you want to learn more about teaching horseback riding? Do you want to learn from some of the best horsemen and horsewomen in the equine industry? All horse enthusiasts, especially instructors and professionals within the equine industry, have 11 great opportunities throughout this year to learn more about horses, horsemanship, and safety. Each Certified Horsemanship Association Region offers a regional conference for anyone wanting horsemanship education, hands-on experiences, networking opportunities, and to make social connections within the horse industry. In the United States and Canada, CHA has 11 regions, in addition to an International Region. Each region within the U.S. and Canada has a regional conference, and attendance counts for continuing education credits toward CHA membership. Attendees do not have to live in the specific region to attend that region’s conference, and you do not have to be a member of CHA to attend. All CHA Regional Conferences are open to the public and to all horse enthusiasts.

There is also the larger annual CHA International Conference that brings together CHA members, horse industry professionals, and horse enthusiasts from all over. This year’s International Conference is scheduled for October 22-25 at the American Quarter Horse Association’s Hall of Fame and Museum and the West Texas A&M University in Amarillo, Texas. This event also serves as the Region 8 Conference for Oklahoma, Texas, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, and New Mexico. However, with eight more months to wait for the international conference, CHA encourages all horse enthusiasts to check out a regional conference.

There are several great opportunities on the horizon, so if you will be in the following regions, you may want to book your trip and register to attend these great events as soon as possible.

CHA Region 1 (British Columbia, Washington, Idaho, Western Montana, Oregon, and Alberta)

This conference is scheduled for March 5-8 at Canyonview Equestrian College in Silverton, OR. A great schedule is planned with classes, workshops, and mini-clinics on a wide variety of topics and disciplines. In addition, there will be fun activities, challenges, and excellent food. Speakers include Richard Shrake, Nathan Horsman, Stan Loewen, Trisha Kiefer, Reed, Monica Liles, Phil Peterson, Gregory Gil, Tereesa Wentland, Sherilyn Sander, Rod Brown, Jessica Mohr, Scott Depalo, Teddy Franke, Ren Bannerman, and Dr. Chris Wickliffe. The presenters will speak on reining, dressage, cutting, jumping, pack and trail, and instructor training. Those who wish to be hands on and ride in the presentations are able to on a first-come, first-serve basis. A silent auction filled with tack, equipment, rider apparel, home décor, teaching aids, etc., will help raise funds for the region’s scholarship program and other programs. Contact Teddy Franke in Oregon at teddy@campmorrow.org or 541-544-2149 or 907-687-6047. Follow news from Region 1 online at www.charegion1.com, Twitter.com/charegion1, Facebook.com/CHARegion1, and Facebook.com/groups/CHARegion1.

 

CHA Region 5 (New York, New Jersey, Washington DC, Virginia, Deleware, Pennsylvania, and Maryland)

This conference is scheduled for March 20-21 at Houghton College in Houghton, New York. Topics include farrier care to optimize performance with farrier Ed Carls, IRD techniques for cognitive/physical challenges, saddle fitting to help the horse and rider with Certified Master Saddle Fitter Judy Bromley, quadrille riding with the Musical Freestyle class of Houghton College, how to teach a CHA clinic lesson involving jumping with CHA clinicians Lynn Bliven and Lisa Strapello, how to safely prepare kids for competitions with CHA Master Clinic Instructor Kathy Hilsher, how to help at-risk youth with horses with CHA Master Clinic Instructor Susan Berger, how to teach riders to improve a horse’s gait with CHA Master Clinic Instructor and USDF Silver Medalist Valerie McCloskey, obstacle training with clinician JoAnn Long of Gentle Dove Farm, and teaching correct gaming techniques for barrel racing, pole bending, etc., with Lynn Bliven. In addition, attendees can take 45-minute lessons with schoolmasters for $50 as part of fundraiser for CHA. Pre-registration is required. Contact Larissa Strappello at larissa.strappello@houghton.edu.

CHA Region 9 (Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, Wyoming)

This conference is scheduled for March 13-15 in Denver, CO at the National Western Complex in concert with the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo. Topics include teaching techniques for riding instructors, credentialing for riding instructors, and exercises on horseback riding for all levels with CHA CEO Christy Landwehr; working with the very young rider with Ashleigh Hamill of Frontrange Equestrians; equine activity liability with Jill Montgomery of JRAM Enterprises; using a temperature gauge to manage a horse with Dr. Jeff Prystupa of Equine Thermography; building a successful local breed club and youth organization with Hamill and Jerry Martinez of the Arabian Horse Association; and many more great horse health care and management topics. The Junior Colorado Arabian Horse Club will do a demonstration. In addition to the conference, attendees will receive lunch, parking passes, and tickets to all events at the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo, including the Mane Event. Since the Expo has seven venues running simultaneously in addition to the Region 9 Conference, it makes for a great family weekend. Contact Jill Montgomery at jill@jramenterprises.com or Ashleigh Hamill at frontrangeequestrians@gmail.com.

Attendees can book accommodations at host hotels at special rates if booked by a certain date and at regular hotel rates after that. Attendees of regional conferences are also encouraged to register for the conference as far in advance as possible. There are rates for the entire conference or day rates for those who can’t attend every day. CHA members and students can book at a discounted rate.

For additional information on CHA Regions, upcoming conferences, and for contact information, visit CHA Regional Conferences. Don’t forget to join CHA’s email list to hear about upcoming conferences and other educational opportunities and content at www.cha-ahse.org.

* Please Note: CHA Region 7 (North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, and Alabama) had its conference in January. The next Region 7 conference will be in 2016.

 

The Right Horse Initiative

Riding Instructors As Stakeholders

Riding Instructors As Stakeholders
By Sarah Evers Conrad

At the beginning of this year, the Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA) announced their involvement with The Right Horse Initiative. This program allows CHA riding instructors in Region 9—Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska—to adopt horses that need new homes for use in their riding lesson programs and/or camp programs. CHA leadership recognized the merits of this program to help the horse industry give a new career to horses in transition. It also helps meet one of the biggest needs of riding instructors—where to get quality mounts for their lesson programs.

This pilot program is possible thanks to a grant given to CHA from the Watershed Animal Fund, which funds The Right Horse Initiative. This grant helps with transportation costs for the horses as they are transitioned to their new homes.

CHA is working closely with Harmony Equine Center in Franktown, CO, which serves as a transition center for the horses. Transition centers are organizations and facilities that provide a range of services, including intake, boarding, medical care, and training for the horses that are in transition.

Another transition center that has partnered with CHA is Colorado State University (CSU). CSU receives the horses from Harmony Equine Center. Then the CSU students start working with the horses to retrain them for new careers. Once they have completed their training, they are placed up for adoption to CHA members.

The program kicked off in January 2018, and the first horses to graduate from CSU training moved to their new homes after the spring semester.

Pecos was adopted by Andrea Linzmeyer, a CHA Certified Instructor and Equine Facilities Manager who is the Equine Manager at the Urban Farm in Denver, CO. The 12-year-old Paint gelding will eventually be used as a walk/trot/canter horse in lessons.

Linzmeyer was impressed with the level of training that CSU had given Pecos. “CSU does an amazing job with these horses’ training,” she said. “They work hard to make sure they are put to the test and will truly succeed as lesson horses.”

Emmalee Anne Gale, another CHA Certified Instructor who works at the Urban Farm as the Equine Assistant, adopted Gretta. Gretta is a 15-year-old Quarter Horse and Arabian cross mare. The mare settled right in with all of the cows and goats and other animals at the Urban Farm, and she isn’t even phased by the nearby passing trains, said Gale.

Gale said Gretta lacked information about her past history, so she was restarted at CSU by the student that trained her. Gale, who wanted a more green horse, is continuing Gretta’s training for her intermediate to advanced riders.

“Gretta was in great shape and had been well taken care of,” said Gale. “I was able to watch her trainer at the time work with her before I was able to try her myself. I truly enjoy working with Gretta, and I think that she will not only be a great horse for me, but she will also do well in my lessons.”

A third horse was adopted by CHA Certified Instructor Jessie Butler of Fort Collins, CO. Currently, Butler, who is also certified by PATH Intl., is the Program Manager at Front Range Exceptional Equestrians and is a therapeutic riding instructor at Hearts and Horses in Loveland, CO. In addition, she has her own lesson program.

Otter, previously named Hunter, is a 16-year-old grade mare. Otter settled beautifully into her new home, said Butler. After settling in, Butler introduced her to her students, and she has already become a student favorite in her lesson program.

“Otter came into my program with a great wealth of knowledge,” said Butler about the training the mare received at CSU.

Butler is working on expanding Otter’s knowledge with English riding and with crossrails. “She is learning quickly and is already a superstar for my riders doing trot pole courses,” she added.

“My students and I have loved our little Otter since the moment she stepped hoof on our property!” said Butler. “Kids, teens, and adults in my program constantly gush about how sweet and lovely she is! Otter knows her job as a lesson pony and carries all her riders with grace, a wonderful sense of humor, and just a pinch of spunk—the perfect recipe for a lesson horse. Otter will be loved by myself and my students for a long, long time!”

Butler said adopting from CSU’s Right Horse program was a wonderful experience. “I highly recommend it to other CHA instructors!” she added. “It was a straight-forward process, and I’m thrilled with how it all turned out!”

Both Gale and Linzmeyer would recommend the program to CHA instructors. “There are some really great horses that are just waiting to have their nexthome,” said Linzmeyer. “The Right Horse, CSU, the Harmony center and CHA teaming up has made it easy for instructors to find good, affordable school horses, as well as give these wonderful horses a second chance. It’s a win-win for all.”

Now that August is here, 12 more horses will be available for adoption in Region 9. CSU’s summer semester students have been busy working with these horses. After the fall semester ends in December of this year, then the third batch of horses will be available.

For more information on The Right Horse, visit http://www.therighthorse.org.

 

Business / Program Members Share Their CHA Member Experiences

CHA Business/Program Members Share Their Experiences as CHA Members
By Sarah Evers Conrad

The Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA) has multiple options for membership. The Business/Program Membership is perfect for businesses and associations, such as camps, stables, schools, equine suppliers, and producers. There is a plethora of benefits for Business/Program Members, some of which include special advertising opportunities, free job postings on the CHA job board, a facility link on the CHA online database, marketing and advertising opportunities, continuing education for riding program staff, discounts on CHA products and services, discounts to the CHA International Conference and Regional Conferences, discounts at many tack shops, instructor liability insurance through Equisure and others, the ability to host CHA certification clinics and workshops, and much more. Annual dues are $200.00. In addition, if a Business/Program Member is also a CHA Accredited Site, they receive $25 per year off their annual dues.

Several CHA Business/Program Members wanted to share more about their experiences and benefits from their membership.

Eightfold Farms

Eightfold Farms co-owner and manager Hanna Gamble is CHA Certified at Level 4 for English and Level 3 for Western. She and her mother, Carol, purchased Eightfold Farms in April of 2015. The business became a Business/Program Member as well as a CHA Lifetime Member. This 174-acre facility overlooks the Red River in Benton, LA, and offers lessons, training, rehab, sales, facility rental, and more.

“Eightfold Farms is the manifestation of a lifelong dream, and I feel so blessed to be able to share this special place and safe horsemanship with the next generation,” says Gamble.

Gamble says that she takes pride in being a CHA member and certified instructor and having her actions and her program held to a professional standard. “The Certified Horsemanship Association is a well curated group of equestrian professionals, and it shows,” she adds.

Gamble originally heard about CHA from her first riding instructor, Sig North at Double Rainbow Farm in Haughton, LA. “I absolutely loved the structured learning curriculum and path to advancement that it provided,” adds Gamble. “By being introduced to correct horsemanship at such an early age, I was able to feel comfortable in all types of equestrian settings. These early experiences with CHA had a great impact on my development and are the reason I chose to become a CHA certified instructor and business.”

Gamble plans to use the CHA Instructors Directory this year to host clinics at her farm in the fall. In addition, she shares that CHA has improved her instruction program by increasing access to learning resources for her students and teaching resources for herself. When she teaches a beginning lesson, the student receives a CHA Level 1 Horsemanship Manual. “Students and parents alike love the clear progression of learning in the books,” she says.

For more information, please visit http://www.eightfoldfarms.com.

Marmon Valley Farm

The family-owned Marmon Valley Farm in Zanesfield, OH, is the largest Christian horse camp in Ohio. With 150 well-trained horses and ponies, Marmon Valley Farm has been specializing in horseback riding for more than 50 years for guests of all ages. This CHA Business/Program Member and Host Site offers riding lessons, pony rides, trail rides, special events, and an “Adopt-a-Horse” program for frequent riders to focus on one horse for riding and grooming without all the responsibilities of horse ownership.

Executive Director Matt Wiley is co-owner with his sister, Jane Olsen, while his wife, Kathy, serves as Lessons Coordinator. Wiley’s parents started Marmon Valley, which became a CHA member in 1968. “My father, Bill Wiley, saw the value of a progressive and standardized program and got involved to the point of running the CHA office from our camp for several years,” says Wiley. “It is helpful to see the results as campers return from year to year.”

“I think CHA is well designed for camp and lesson barns,” he adds, although he would love to see more private barns get involved and utilize the materials available through CHA at www.CHA.horse

For more information, please visit https://marmonvalley.com.

Houghton College and Riding Camp

Houghton College in Houghton, NY, not only became a Business/Program Member, but it is a CHA Accredited Site and a CHA Host Site for clinics and workshops. It is also the site of the 2019 CHA International Conference. Joanne Young began directing the equestrian program at Houghton College in 1986. She is a CHA Clinician, a Trail Guide Instructor (Level 2), a Site Visitor Trainer, and a Lifetime CHA Member.

Houghton College is a Christian liberal arts college that offers CHA certification as part of its existing equine studies curriculum. Young describes the equine studies program further. “Houghton College Equestrian Program specializes in helping each equestrian student discover and develop the special skills, interests, and talents God gave them in a way that prepares her or him to serve/work/build a career in the best niche for them in the equestrian world.”

“I quickly realized the awesome networking available through CHA; the access to excellent educational materials; and the high standards for teaching, for horse care, and for safety would blend with and reinforce my goals for a high-quality program at Houghton College,” continues Young. “As soon as budget would allow, I had the college become a Business/Program Member, and I became an Individual Life Member.”

One fringe benefit for Young has been the wonderful friendships and connections that Young has made with “outstanding professional horsemen in many different disciplines and venues,” of which some have become internship mentors for Houghton College students.

Now that Young is semi-retired, Larissa Ries is the current program director and also a CHA Assistant Clinician for CHA’s Standard English/Western Certification and for the Equine Facility Managers Certification.

According to Young, being a CHA Business/Program Member has given nationwide exposure for the college’s equestrian program, has led to excellent jobs for some students, and has lent even greater credibility to the quality of equestrian education at Houghton College.

For more information, please visit http://www.houghton.edu/equestrian.

Blue Star Camps

Blue Star Camps in Hendersonville, NC, sits on 500 acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains and offers campers English riding instruction on specially trained, camp-owned horses with all instruction by CHA instructors, trail rides through the 10,400 acre forest preserve, and a camp-wide horse show. Blue Star Camps is a CHA Business/Program Member, an Accredited Site, and is a CHA Host Site.

Louise Hardman, Equestrian Director of Blue Star Camps, is a CHA Assistant Clinician for English and a Level 2 Western Instructor, along with being a Lifetime CHA Member. She believes that CHA Accreditation helps facilities and equine programs to strive for excellence.

Blue Star Camps joined as a Business/Program Member and became accredited to show potential and current customers that they care about operating Blue Star Camps using set safety and quality standards set by CHA, which are explained in CHA’s Standards for Equestrian Programs manual. “Just like certification gives an individual added legitimacy, site accreditation gives added legitimacy to those facilities who go through the process,” she adds. “It is a great way to show that you care to meet industry standards and that you care about the welfare of your animals, staff, and clients.”

Hosting a CHA certification has been a great way for all of the Blue Star Camps staff to become certified. “In addition, we open it to outside participants, which is a great way to meet more wonderful horse people,” adds Hardman.

For more information, please visit https://www.bluestarcamps.com.

If you would like to become a CHA Business/Program Member and take advantage of the benefits mentioned above, please visit CHA Membership Application.

 

farrier, horse, hooves

7 Tips for Holding Your Horse for the Farrier

By Erica Burns

A farrier, or blacksmith, is one of the best people for a horse owner to have a good relationship with. The service he or she provides while caring for your horse’s feet—which may include hoof maintenance, corrective trimming, shoe application—is important for proper horse health and management. However, job of a farrier can be dangerous, and it’s important that you understand how to make the situation as safe as possible. Here are a few tips to help you do that.

  • Hold the Horse: Holding your horse for the farrier is safer than having the horse tied, cross-tied, or ground-tied. While your farrier is working on your horse’s feet, he or she will often be in unusual positions underneath or around the horse. The farrier may also use stands to hold up the horse’s feet so he/she can approach the hoof with tools at different angles. If a horse slips or acts up while they have a hoof in the air, it is possible the farrier could get injured in the process. If you are holding the horse, you are most likely able to move the horse away from the farrier, hopefully in turn preventing any injury. A spooked horse, or one that moves the wrong way while tied or in cross ties, might not move away from the farrier. This could potentially result in the horse stepping on him/her, the horse kicking out, or an accidental flying hoof making contact with the farrier.
  • Fly Spray Beforehand: Fly spraying your horse’s abdomen and legs will reduce your horse’s desire to stomp flies and swish their tail. A horse who is trying to stomp flies is more likely to pull their hooves away from the farrier while he or she is working or lean extra weight on the farrier in an attempt to move their feet. They may also swish their tail around while the farrier is working on the hind hooves, which can be irritating and disruptive to the farrier’s work.
  • Maintain Safe Distances: Be sure to keep your horse a safe distance from other horses that might nip or bite while the farrier is working. If a nearby horse reaches his head out and bites the horse you’re holding for the farrier, the horse you are holding is more likely to be concerned about moving away from the instigator as opposed to looking out for the farrier beneath him. Most farriers will prefer to work on horses in an aisle as opposed to inside a stall, because there is more room to move around and away from the horse in case of an emergency. There are instances, however, where it will be best to trim a horse inside a stall. Generally, it’s best to let your farrier determine if he or she would like to work on the horse’s feet inside the stall or out in the aisle.
  • Avoid Hazards: Make sure there is nothing dangerous nearby that the farrier or the horse could trip on or get injured by, like pitchforks, lead ropes, buckets, saddle racks, or other barn items that may become a potential hazard if the horse moves while the farrier is working.
  • Practice. If you have a young or stubborn horse, or a horse that is not used to having to hold his feet up for the farrier, go ahead and practice. Work on picking the hooves up, stretch each leg forward or backward like a farrier would do, and even tap gently on the bottom of the hoof with the flat side of a hoof pick or the palm of your hand. This can help the horse get used to things that the farrier is likely to do. The more you handle your horse’s feet, the more used to it they will become, and the better they will behave when the farrier does arrive.
  • Safe Handling: The best way for you to be able to move your horse away from the farrier in case of an emergency is to stand on the same side of the horse as the farrier. That is to say, while the farrier is working on the front and hind left hooves, you are on the left side of the horse; likewise, with the right hooves, you are on the right side of the horse. With the lead safely folded in your hand, be sure to be facing your farrier, and paying attention to where he or she is at all times. Don’t stand directly in front of the horse’s shoulder, where the farrier will need to stretch the leg forward if they use a stand. Instead, stand a little further off to the side, so you can see the horse, see the farrier, and are out of the way of the space the farrier needs to work within. When he or she switches sides, you should also switch sides. You should always stand while holding your horse for the farrier. Always stay alert to what’s going on in the barn and the surrounding area. Your farrier may guide you if he or she has different preferences.
  • Additional Restraint: Most horses don’t need to be restrained for the farrier, but there may be instances when restraint is appropriate. The most common choices for restraint are a lip chain, lip twitch, or a tranquilizer. You should feel comfortable using restraint if you are going to apply it for the farrier. If you are unsure which one of these methods of restraint is most appropriate, talk to both your veterinarian and your farrier to determine which method is best for your horse. It’s important to remember that state law may dictate that only a veterinarian can give a tranquilizer or other medication to a horse. If this the case in your state, then you will need to plan to have your veterinarian out when the farrier is there.

A life-long lover of horses, Erica Burns comes from a diverse background in the equine industry, with a degree in Equine Studies, as well as work experience with polo horses, Thoroughbreds, and lesson programs, including the programs she currently manages at North Country School and Camp Treetops in Lake Placid, NY.

horse, horses, foal

Spring Planning: Getting your Horses and Facility Ready for the Upcoming Season

By Bradie Chapman

We have survived the winter snow and ice and are looking forward to the spring blossoms and the green grass. The spring cleaning and planning for the upcoming season is under way. There are many things to consider as we prepare for the opening day, the horses, the tack and equipment, scheduling of riders, and the facilities.

Let’s start with the horses because without them we do not have a riding program to offer the community. As we transition to spring, we need to consider our program’s health care protocol. For a lot of farms, this will include getting vaccines, Coggins, and maybe teeth floatings scheduled. I always find it helpful to have the veterinarian look at the horses and make any recommendations that they have for nutritional needs and soundness. I have a close relationship with our vet and we talk about work load and what we need to do to help our horses handle what is asked of them.

Horses also need to have their hoof care checked in the spring. Some programs may pull shoes while the horses are in their off season, so we need to schedule the farrier to come and trim or put shoes on the horses as they get ready to go back to work.

And of course, we can’t forget that shedding season will be here soon. Horse hair will be on everything, and we need to make sure we brush the horses regularly to help remove their shedding hair. Grooming is an excellent time to check your horse for any physical changes that happened over winter. Horses may not have worked as hard, and you will most-likely notice a decrease in muscle tone or maybe you had a hard winter and with the winter hair coming off, it is more noticeable that a change needs to be made in their diet.

Horses will need to return to work so that they are ready for their upcoming lesson schedule or summer horse camps. Remember to start off slowly if the horses have been off for the winter. I always compare starting horses back under saddle to us training for a race—we would never go straight to a sprint or a 5K run. We would pace ourselves to build up our endurance and stamina, just like we should for the horse. As the horses return to work, they may require a cooler after the workout to help get them dry because of their winter hair.

Before the riding season starts, this is a great time to do a thorough check of your tack and equipment. If you have a cold and rainy day, you can sit in the tack room and take the tack apart and clean and condition it as you put it back together. Maybe even have a tack-cleaning party and invite others from the barn to come and join you. This will give you an opportunity to check the stitches, the leather, and all of the parts to make sure it is in good working order and safe for your riders while also being comfortable for the horses. If you supply helmets, be sure to check that they are still in good working condition. This would also include straightening out straps and checking liners in the helmets, washing those before the start of the season, if they are removable.

I always think this is a great time to also check the equipment that you use in your lessons. Do your cones need cleaning? Do ground poles or standards need painting or repair? If you have bridges that you use, don’t forget to check the structure of the materials for wear or rot. While checking your equipment for the arena, also look at the storage area. Does it need any repairs?

Another spring task to plan on is a facility walk-through. An alternative idea that we do at our facility is to schedule one monthly and just have a form that we use to make notes of repairs and concerns. This allows you to concentrate on the grounds and buildings as you walk around your property. You may notice some wind or winter weather damage as you make your way around the farm. It is important to make repairs to keep you, your clients, and your horses safe. Walk around the pastures and check your fencing for wear or possible downed trees. In the buildings, look for wear-and-tear that may be okay, but make a note for future repairs. Budget time and resources to get things on the list fixed.

During the walk-through, you may also want to do an inventory of supplies that you will need in the upcoming months. Look at your fly sprays and hair detanglers, shampoos and conditioners, leather cleaning supplies, and any other stable supply that you typically use. You will also want to check halters, leads, fly mask, brushes, etc., and ensure that you have a few extras in case something goes missing or breaks.

As we transition from winter to spring another task to consider is putting away your winter supplies. Depending on your location, you may have heated buckets, trough heaters, and blankets that will no longer need to be out. At this time on our farm, we also identify items that will need to be replaced for the year. Getting a storage container for all of the heaters and repair supplies is an easy way to keep it all together.

At our program, we also blanket our horses through the winter because of our school schedule. We find the blankets help to keep the horses cleaner, which helps the students get more saddle time than grooming time in their classes. But at the end of the season, we wash all of the blankets and sheets before putting them into storage. We also get a pile ready for repairs, which we like to do this time of year so that we are ready for the next winter season.

One other thing that is being worked out currently is our upcoming lesson schedule. Our program is unique in that we have our college program running September through June and then our therapeutic and community lesson program is February or March through November. Many of our horses cross into at least two areas, which helps with exercise and keeping variety in their workload, but it can make scheduling a little more difficult. Scheduling is something that will be determined by each individual program, but for all, it is important to think through as you prepare for the upcoming season. You will have to consider arena space, lighting until the days get longer, and workloads for the horses. Also advertising should be under way to help fill any vacancies as well as sending out rider applications and waivers to be updated from returning riders.

Preparing your facility before the opening of the season shows that you are dedicated to keeping those involved safe and have an awareness of the standards for an equine program. While it is true that many of the things mentioned should be done throughout the operating year, it shows the pride that you have in taking care of your property. and hopefully this is a trait that will pass to your workers, volunteers, and clients.

Bradie Chapman is a CHA Master Instructor and Clinic Staff, and a faculty lecturer for the Ohio University Southern Equine Studies Program, www.ousequinedegree.com. Ohio University Southern’s equine facility is an approved CHA college program which hosts instructor certifications yearly for students. The program has also started offering equine facility management certification at the facility.

Photo by Pegasus Farm in OH

From Lessons to Clinics

From Lessons to Clinics

By Julie Goodnight

I was just a year out of college when I decided to follow the path of least resistance (for me) and make a career in the horse industry. My college degree had nothing to do with horses, but I had been managing a breeding/training farm for a year, so it wasn’t a huge leap for me. Although the sport of riding was a big part of my passion for horses, studying horse behavior and science-based training methods was always a huge motivator for me. It was clear that working for someone else—their horses, their barn, their style of training—was not my path. I needed the freedom to train each horse the way I thought best, to expand my capabilities and explore new techniques.

In 1986, I first hung out a shingle for my own horse business, which included boarding, training, lessons, trail rides, pack trips and drop camps. Basically, anything involving horses that someone would pay me for. I would’ve loved to do nothing but train horses all-day-every-day, but there was way more to running a successful horse operation, and teaching/guiding/coaching would be a big part of the operation. I soon realized that no matter how well I could ride a horse, the ability to teach it to someone else, was the key to success. I’ve worked hard at being a better teacher my entire career, and with a little help from CHA, it has opened many doors for me, indeed.

Like a lot young horse trainers, I did not want to be a riding instructor; just a trainer. I had the fleeting fantasy of training and riding beautiful horses all day with absentee owners who paid exorbitant monthly training bills, indefinitely, asking very few questions and never showing up in person. And to be fair, I did have a few clients that were almost that perfect. But most were not and reality set in fast. Early-on in my career I realized that every horse has at least one person attached and training the horse does no good if the people are not also trained. Three decades later, my passion is still training horses, but what I do mostly is train people who own horses. Our motto is, “Helping horses, one human at a time.”

Credentials Required, Past this Point

By 1995, my horse business had grown to the point that I needed better professional credentials. I researched the options for riding instructor certification and quickly settled on CHA, the Certified Horsemanship Association, founded in 1967 to promote safety in group horsemanship programs by educating and certifying riding instructors. I loved the focus on safety and the acceptance of a broad range of disciplines and teaching styles. The fact that you could test out at the highest level in one certification clinic was appealing, since I already had a decade of teaching riding under my belt.

I came away from my first CHA Instructor Certification Clinic, enamored of the organization and the people who comprised it, and with a lifetime dedication to its mission—to promote safety and education in horsemanship. I’ve stayed actively involved with CHA for more than 20 years. Today, the nonprofit organization offers numerous certification programs for horse professionals– for instructors (standard, riders with disabilities, harness driving), trail guides, vaulting coaches, facility managers and clinicians all receive certification from the organization that has continued to remain relevant for fifty years.

I also came away from that first CHA clinic with the highest level of certification, Master Instructor, and a recommendation to become a certified Master Clinician, and certify other instructors. For years after, I taught clinics for CHA, certifying other professionals, while running a boarding-lesson-training program at home. After teaching and evaluating countless riding lessons, I gradually started doing more clinics and fewer lessons; first at home, then on the road.

I stopped teaching lessons to individuals more than a decade ago and for the past fifteen years, I’ve been teaching horsemanship clinics from coast to coast and abroad. In the parlance of the trade, I am a “horsemanship clinician,” a term that can mean a lot to some, is confusing to others and may mean absolutely nothing to the uninitiated.

Who Does What?

There’s often a fuzzy line between the terms instructor, trainer and clinician, when it comes to horsemanship, and often, professionals will claim all three titles. There are no laws or regulations that define these titles as they relate to horsemanship; even Wikipedia has no answer for “what is a horsemanship clinician.” But having lived and worked in this field for more than thirty years, I have a pretty good idea of the differences between instructors, trainers and clinicians, in the jobs that they do and don’t do. Yes, there is a lot of cross-over between the jobs, but they are distinct roles.

Consulting the dictionary, some definitions are quite clear.

  • Horsemanship: the art or practice of riding, training and handling horses.
  • Instructor: a person who teaches something. In this case, horsemanship.
  • Trainer: a person who trains people or animals. Or both, in the case of horsemanship.
  • Clinician: a health care or medical professional that works directly with a sick patient in observation and treatment, to help them get better. Oops, here’s where things get tricky.

Yes, I could easily argue that a person must be sick to want to ride a thousand-pound flight animal that could spook at his own shadow, but that’s not the point. ‘Clinician’ is a term we borrowed from the medical profession and morphed it to fit the needs of the horse industry. Therefore, a “horsemanship clinician” is a horsemanship expert that works directly with a horse/human pair (the patient or client), in observation and treatment, to help them get better, at whatever it is that they do.

The difference between an instructor and a trainer can be murky too. Many riding instructors are not horse trainers and don’t want to be; they prefer to teach humans to ride on well-trained and well-behaved horses (a very civilized attitude, I might add). If the instructor does not specifically train horses, but does teach lessons on school horses and/or privately-owned horses, that person is a riding instructor. Typically, riding instructors teach private lessons (one on one instruction) or semi-private lessons (instructor and two students), or group lessons (3 or more students). A large group lesson would generally be 6-8 riders.

Conversely, many horse trainers are not riding instructors and don’t want to be; they focus on training/riding/competing and only teach a lesson if they must; and then only for a training client. However, many horse professionals consider themselves instructors/trainers, since they are working to train both horse and rider and/or doing some combination of all-of-the-above. Even when the trainer does not teach lessons to the general public, training recreational horses almost always involves teaching a person too.

While a trainer or riding instructor generally teaches a student on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, and may even observe them daily, the horsemanship clinician is usually seeing the horse and person for the first, and possibly only time. Observation is an important part of the equation for training horses and riders. Seeing a horse and/or rider on a daily basis, provides a far different point of view, than seeing the pair for the first time and having no history or preconceived notions. There are certainly pros and cons on both sides, but often a fresh pair of eyes—objective observation, not clouded by history or baggage, can see things that are invisible to those who see it all the time.

How is a Clinic Different from a Lesson?

Clinics are typically taught by someone from another area, who is an expert in a particular area of horsemanship. A clinic is usually taught by someone with a higher level of expertise and/or contains content one would not normally get in a regular riding lesson. Horsemanship clinics tend to be costlier in time and money than lessons and may involve travel for the horse and rider.

The format for horsemanship clinics can vary a lot, depending on the riding activities and the clinician. They may be discipline specific (dressage, jumping, cutting, barrel racing, trick training) or more general in nature. Most of my clinics are general horsemanship, which means we address everything from groundwork, to leadership skills, to confidence, to riding skills, to improving the performance of the horse in any discipline.

Some horsemanship clinics will be taught like a series of private lessons that are given in front of an audience, over a PA system. Dressage clinics are usually that way—the clinician works with the riders one at a time, one after the other, and others pay to watch, observe and learn. Other clinic formats will have all the riders in the arena at the same time, with the groups as large as 10-20 riders. Performing in a large group, in front of an audience, brings unique challenges for both the horse and rider, but also has the potential to greatly expand the training and confidence of both.

Another unique quality of a horsemanship clinic versus a riding lesson, is that there are usually auditors—spectators who have paid to observe the clinician as she/he works with the horses and riders. This can be nerve-wracking for the riders (and for the horses, when the spectators laugh, applaud or open an umbrella), but is an excellent and cheap source of information for the spectator. Auditing horsemanship clinics is an excellent source of continuing education for riding instructors and horse trainers, because it allows you to observe all the different horses and see how the clinician adjusts the techniques to the specific needs of each student.

Teaching horsemanship is a broad endeavor that goes on at every level from a grandfather teaching his grandkids, to an experienced friend helping someone new to the sport, to 4H leaders, to riding instructors teaching beginners or coaching riders to the Olympics, to trainers who work their magic with horses, to clinicians, working with people and their horses on a one-time basis. We need all kinds of teachers and all kinds of students, to keep the industry strong. For more information on the Certified Horsemanship Association, visit www.CHA.horse and www.CHA.horse

 

Teresa Kackert Great Horses of America

From Lessons to Clinics

By Julie Goodnight

I was just a year out of college when I decided to follow the path of least resistance (for me) and make a career in the horse industry. My college degree had nothing to do with horses, but I had been managing a breeding/training farm for a year, so it wasn’t a huge leap for me. Although the sport of riding was a big part of my passion for horses, studying horse behavior and science-based training methods was always a huge motivator for me. It was clear that working for someone else—their horses, their barn, their style of training—was not my path. I needed the freedom to train each horse the way I thought best, to expand my capabilities and explore new techniques.

In 1986, I first hung out a shingle for my own horse business, which included boarding, training, lessons, trail rides, pack trips and drop camps. Basically, anything involving horses that someone would pay me for. I would’ve loved to do nothing but train horses all-day-every-day, but there was way more to running a successful horse operation, and teaching/guiding/coaching would be a big part of the operation. I soon realized that no matter how well I could ride a horse, the ability to teach it to someone else, was the key to success. I’ve worked hard at being a better teacher my entire career, and with a little help from CHA, it has opened many doors for me, indeed.

Like a lot young horse trainers, I did not want to be a riding instructor; just a trainer. I had the fleeting fantasy of training and riding beautiful horses all day with absentee owners who paid exorbitant monthly training bills, indefinitely, asking very few questions and never showing up in person. And to be fair, I did have a few clients that were almost that perfect. But most were not and reality set in fast. Early-on in my career I realized that every horse has at least one person attached and training the horse does no good if the people are not also trained. Three decades later, my passion is still training horses, but what I do mostly is train people who own horses. Our motto is, “Helping horses, one human at a time.”

Credentials Required, Past this Point

By 1995, my horse business had grown to the point that I needed better professional credentials. I researched the options for riding instructor certification and quickly settled on CHA, the Certified Horsemanship Association, founded in 1967 to promote safety in group horsemanship programs by educating and certifying riding instructors. I loved the focus on safety and the acceptance of a broad range of disciplines and teaching styles. The fact that you could test out at the highest level in one certification clinic was appealing, since I already had a decade of teaching riding under my belt.

I came away from my first CHA Instructor Certification Clinic, enamored of the organization and the people who comprised it, and with a lifetime dedication to its mission—to promote safety and education in horsemanship. I’ve stayed actively involved with CHA for more than 20 years. Today, the nonprofit organization offers numerous certification programs for horse professionals– for instructors (standard, riders with disabilities, harness driving), trail guides, vaulting coaches, facility managers and clinicians all receive certification from the organization that has continued to remain relevant for fifty years.

I also came away from that first CHA clinic with the highest level of certification, Master Instructor, and a recommendation to become a certified Master Clinician, and certify other instructors. For years after, I taught clinics for CHA, certifying other professionals, while running a boarding-lesson-training program at home. After teaching and evaluating countless riding lessons, I gradually started doing more clinics and fewer lessons; first at home, then on the road.

I stopped teaching lessons to individuals more than a decade ago and for the past fifteen years, I’ve been teaching horsemanship clinics from coast to coast and abroad. In the parlance of the trade, I am a “horsemanship clinician,” a term that can mean a lot to some, is confusing to others and may mean absolutely nothing to the uninitiated.

Who Does What?

There’s often a fuzzy line between the terms instructor, trainer and clinician, when it comes to horsemanship, and often, professionals will claim all three titles. There are no laws or regulations that define these titles as they relate to horsemanship; even Wikipedia has no answer for “what is a horsemanship clinician.” But having lived and worked in this field for more than thirty years, I have a pretty good idea of the differences between instructors, trainers and clinicians, in the jobs that they do and don’t do. Yes, there is a lot of cross-over between the jobs, but they are distinct roles.

Consulting the dictionary, some definitions are quite clear.

  • Horsemanship: the art or practice of riding, training and handling horses.
  • Instructor: a person who teaches something. In this case, horsemanship.
  • Trainer: a person who trains people or animals. Or both, in the case of horsemanship.
  • Clinician: a health care or medical professional that works directly with a sick patient in observation and treatment, to help them get better. Oops, here’s where things get tricky.

Yes, I could easily argue that a person must be sick to want to ride a thousand-pound flight animal that could spook at his own shadow, but that’s not the point. ‘Clinician’ is a term we borrowed from the medical profession and morphed it to fit the needs of the horse industry. Therefore, a “horsemanship clinician” is a horsemanship expert that works directly with a horse/human pair (the patient or client), in observation and treatment, to help them get better, at whatever it is that they do.

The difference between an instructor and a trainer can be murky too. Many riding instructors are not horse trainers and don’t want to be; they prefer to teach humans to ride on well-trained and well-behaved horses (a very civilized attitude, I might add). If the instructor does not specifically train horses, but does teach lessons on school horses and/or privately-owned horses, that person is a riding instructor. Typically, riding instructors teach private lessons (one on one instruction) or semi-private lessons (instructor and two students), or group lessons (3 or more students). A large group lesson would generally be 6-8 riders.

Conversely, many horse trainers are not riding instructors and don’t want to be; they focus on training/riding/competing and only teach a lesson if they must; and then only for a training client. However, many horse professionals consider themselves instructors/trainers, since they are working to train both horse and rider and/or doing some combination of all-of-the-above. Even when the trainer does not teach lessons to the general public, training recreational horses almost always involves teaching a person too.

While a trainer or riding instructor generally teaches a student on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, and may even observe them daily, the horsemanship clinician is usually seeing the horse and person for the first, and possibly only time. Observation is an important part of the equation for training horses and riders. Seeing a horse and/or rider on a daily basis, provides a far different point of view, than seeing the pair for the first time and having no history or preconceived notions. There are certainly pros and cons on both sides, but often a fresh pair of eyes—objective observation, not clouded by history or baggage, can see things that are invisible to those who see it all the time.

How is a Clinic Different from a Lesson?

Clinics are typically taught by someone from another area, who is an expert in a particular area of horsemanship. A clinic is usually taught by someone with a higher level of expertise and/or contains content one would not normally get in a regular riding lesson. Horsemanship clinics tend to be costlier in time and money than lessons and may involve travel for the horse and rider.

The format for horsemanship clinics can vary a lot, depending on the riding activities and the clinician. They may be discipline specific (dressage, jumping, cutting, barrel racing, trick training) or more general in nature. Most of my clinics are general horsemanship, which means we address everything from groundwork, to leadership skills, to confidence, to riding skills, to improving the performance of the horse in any discipline.

Some horsemanship clinics will be taught like a series of private lessons that are given in front of an audience, over a PA system. Dressage clinics are usually that way—the clinician works with the riders one at a time, one after the other, and others pay to watch, observe and learn. Other clinic formats will have all the riders in the arena at the same time, with the groups as large as 10-20 riders. Performing in a large group, in front of an audience, brings unique challenges for both the horse and rider, but also has the potential to greatly expand the training and confidence of both.

Another unique quality of a horsemanship clinic versus a riding lesson, is that there are usually auditors—spectators who have paid to observe the clinician as she/he works with the horses and riders. This can be nerve-wracking for the riders (and for the horses, when the spectators laugh, applaud or open an umbrella), but is an excellent and cheap source of information for the spectator. Auditing horsemanship clinics is an excellent source of continuing education for riding instructors and horse trainers, because it allows you to observe all the different horses and see how the clinician adjusts the techniques to the specific needs of each student.

Teaching horsemanship is a broad endeavor that goes on at every level from a grandfather teaching his grandkids, to an experienced friend helping someone new to the sport, to 4H leaders, to riding instructors teaching beginners or coaching riders to the Olympics, to trainers who work their magic with horses, to clinicians, working with people and their horses on a one-time basis. We need all kinds of teachers and all kinds of students, to keep the industry strong. For more information on the Certified Horsemanship Association, visit www.CHA.horse and www.CHA.horse

What to Expect During a CHA Certification Clinic

The Certified Horsemanship Association’s Certification Clinic season is currently under way for those who want to get certified or renew a certification as a riding instructor, camp staff, equestrian program staff, a vaulting or driving instructor, and/or a therapeutic riding instructor. Certification is valid for three years, at which time, a Certified Instructor must provide documentation of 25 hours of continuing education and proof of work in the industry. In order to raise the level of certification, instructors must attend another certification clinic.

Various clinics are currently offered in 20 states and two Canadian provinces (Manitoba and Ontario), and new clinics are added to the schedule throughout the year. Certification offers a variety of benefits, not only for the certified individual, but also for their employer, program manager, and clients/students. To learn more about the various benefits, read CHA’s blog post, “Why You Should Find a Certified Riding Instructor” at http://cha-ahse.org/store/blog/why_a_certified_instructor.html.

For those who are already registered for a Certification Clinic, we’re going to take a look at how the clinic is structured and how to prepare for your certification clinic and evaluations.

The Certification Clinic Structure
In a nutshell, a CHA Certification Clinic is a multi-day (usually 4- to 5-day) intensive clinic held at a CHA Program Member host site. Each clinic attendee must attend at least 40 mandatory hours during the clinic, pass written tests, teach at least four practice lessons, undergo a riding evaluation under two CHA Certified Clinicians (and fellow attendees), and attend at least five in-depth workshops on risk management, teaching techniques, professionalism, and herd management.

The purpose of the clinic is to evaluate a participant to see if they can teach at the level they would like to get certified at and to see if their instruction is “safe, effective, and fun.” To achieve certification, a candidate must meet Certification Competency Guidelines, and certification is determined by two Clinic Staff. Certification at any level is never guaranteed, and sometimes an attendee’s skills may not be up to par to achieve a certification at the clinic.

There are four levels that instructors can achieve in flatwork in English and/or Western and in jumping. Those who do not jump can still become certified at all four levels on the flat. Clinic staff at the host site set the schedule, but it can be modified during the clinic due to unforeseen circumstances, such as bad weather.

Those who are certified as an Assistant Instructor are allowed to help another CHA Instructor during lessons and rides in English and/or Western, but they must be at least 16 years old by the last day of their certification clinic. CHA Instructors must be 18 by the last day of the clinic.

Level 1 Instructor: This involves arena riding in either English or western, and there is a strong emphasis on safety and group control. A CHA Level 1 Instructor teaches introductory skills, such as walk, trot, stop, start, and steer, along with ground lessons.

Level 2 Instructor: This level instructor may teach weekly riding lessons or day camps. A CHA Level 2 Instructor teaches improved balance, cueing, and control, with riders learning diagonals, patterns, trail riding, and progressing to a canter or lope and possibly pre-jumping exercises.

Level 3 Instructor: This level instructor helps a rider improve their form, style, and use of aids and places more emphasis on horsemanship theory and horse care. This can include exercises such as getting the correct lead, improving control of the canter, basic jumping, transitions, and school figures.

Level 4 Instructor: This level includes instructors who may be specialists in one breed or discipline. A Level 4 Instructor will teach flying lead changes, leg yields, and lateral work and may specialize in stadium jumping, cross-country jumping, dressage, or reining and horsemanship patterns. Advanced horsemanship theory and horse management is taught at this level.

Master Instructor (Level 4.4): A Master Instructor teaches both English and western at Level 4 and is highly experienced in a variety of teaching and management situations. There may be an increased focus on jumping.

For Master Instructors who would like to become CHA Certified Clinicians, the Clinic Instructors at their certification clinic can recommend them as an Assistant Clinic Instructor (ACI) or as a Clinic Instructor (CI). There are age requirements for these positions. An ACI can help others in the certification process at clinics. A CI is qualified to run a certification clinic and certify instructors along with another CI after they have been an ACI and worked at two different clinics in two different locations under two different clinic staff. All ACIs and Cis must be able to evaluate others correctly and be able to encourage others while also having the ability to give constructive comments in a kind manner.

To achieve certification, an attendee must be able to pass each level before they are evaluated at the next level. So even if you are a fabulous jumping instructor, you will not be tested on those skills until your skills teaching at Level 1 have been evaluated and confirmed. The first lesson will be at Level 1, and if you get become certified as a Level 4 Instructor, then CHA says that you are competent to teach at all the levels below that.

The 40 mandatory hours involves 20 hours in which attendees teach and ride in at least four sample riding lessons. Your skills as an instructor will be evaluated. When you don’t teach, you will be riding in other people’s lessons acting as a student. Three lessons are mounted, and one is a ground lesson. Each clinic has a minimum of five workshops. There may or may not be a skills evaluation section.

The Five Skill Areas

Two Clinic Staff evaluate your skills in five areas: safety, horsemanship, teaching skills, group control, and professionalism.

Safety: CHA emphasizes safety, and all instructors must maintain safety awareness at all times around students since students model behavior based on what the instructor does. To pass this category, you must score at least 7 out of 10. Attendees are evaluated on rules and procedures and that you can demonstrate and enforce those rules and procedures while showing leadership skills. Your personal safety habits must be spot on and you should be positive and calm in problem situations.

Horsemanship: This involves tack adjustment and fit, ground skills, riding ability, and knowledge of theory behind the skills. You must have horsemanship/riding skills at one level above the level you become certified to teach. The riding evaluation includes mounting and dismounting, riding at a walk, trot, and canter or lope on the correct lead with control and proper form.

Teaching Skills: Clinic staff will look at your preparation, your organization of material, and your utilization of resources while teaching. During your practice lessons, you must present appropriate material creatively and clearly, identify problems, and be able to find solutions to those problems. You must be able to effectively evaluate lessons, situations, and people.

Group Control: This evaluates voice projection, communication (eye contact, age appropriate), control of a group in the riding arena and possibly on the trail (if that is part of the clinic), and that you use your Assistant Instructors effectively.

Professionalism: You will be evaluated on how you implement the CHA Standards, whether you are professional in appearance and presentation and mature and consistent with a positive attitude, whether you have good interpersonal relationship skills, and respect and empathy for horses.

Your weakest area of evaluation will determine your level of certification. For instance, if you score at a Level 2 in group control, but score at a Level 4 in the other areas, you will be certified as a Level 2 Instructor. In addition, you may be certified at different levels for English and western.

Our tips in this blog come from CHA’s webinar, “Preparing for CHA Instructor Certification.” For more information on how to prepare for your evaluations, how your sample lessons are structured and what is being evaluated, and the clinic as a whole, you can watch the free webinar above or on CHA’s YouTube Channel. The webinar is a must-see video if you are headed to a certification clinic.

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If you aren’t already registered, now may be the time to book your trip and register for a Certification Clinic if you live near or can travel to one of the following states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington. To learn more about the various certifications, please visit .

CHA has been certifying riding instructors for more than 45 years and is the largest certifying organization in North America. For more information on attending a CHA Certification Clinic, please visit . For questions, please call CHA in Lexington, KY, at 859-259-3399 or email info@cha-ahse.org.

Why Becoming Accredited is Important for Equestrian Programs and Facilities

By Sarah Evers Conrad

Whether you run an equestrian facility of any kind or are seeking one out for riding lessons, camp, board, or training for your horse, site accreditation should be on your mind. The Certified Horsemanship Association Site Accreditation Program is a program that allows equine facilities to get a designation from CHA that states they have met certain standards for quality, effectiveness, and safety set forth within the CHA Standards for Equestrian Programs manual.

A variety of equestrian programs and facilities can apply for accreditation. These include lesson programs, camps with horses*, colleges, schools, private or public boarding or training operations, recreational riding programs, driving programs, vaulting programs, programs for riders with disabilities*, trail ride operations, and outfitters. Every facility that applies for Accreditation will be meticulously inspected by two trained CHA Site Visitors who will go through every standard to ensure compliance.

CHA Accreditation covers three main areas: the facility itself, how the program operates, and the program’s management. The standards set forth guidelines for:

  • Safe grooming and tacking areas
  • Arena and trail construction and maintenance
  • Safe and humane areas for animals
  • Emergency plans
  • Staff qualifications
  • Program policies and procedures
  • Director qualifications
  • Horse selection
  • And so much more

The CHA site accreditation program is a well-established program that CHA consistently seeks to improve. Since accreditation is only available to CHA Business/Program Members, these members receive all of the Business/Program Membership benefits, as we discussed in the blog last time. http://cha-ahse.org/store/blog/business_membership_benefits.html

However, accreditation status also offers additional benefits, for both the facility and the customers considering that facility. The benefits below make it worthwhile for programs and facilities to become CHA Accredited. Let’s look at how CHA Site Accreditation helps these two parts of the horse industry.

Benefits of CHA Site Accreditation

CHA Accreditation helps facilities and equine programs to:

Strive for Excellence The Standards for Equestrian Programs manual was developed by experts from equestrian programs, insurance providers, equine industry professionals, and legal consultants. These experts created a document with the highest standards possible for quality and safety. Those facilities who want to strive for excellence must meet 100% of the mandatory standards and 80% of the recommended standards. In addition, certain specialized equine programs—such as driving, vaulting, or programs for riders with disabilities—may have additional standards they need to meet. CHA Accreditation helps programs develop high standards and a consistent way of doing things effectively and safely.

Assure the Public That They Care About Their Customers – One of the main goals of the accreditation program was to help the public select equine programs that meet industry-accepted standards. Meeting industry standards for safety and quality allows an equine program to show customers that they care about their participants’ safety, horse welfare, and the quality of service they are providing. It signals to potential customers that the business at-hand is willing to be scrutinized and held to high standards of their own choice. However, even if a business followed all of the standards, it doesn’t mean that an accident can’t happen. We all know there is an inherent risk in working with large animals with a mind of their own. However, facilities that have met accreditation standards are committed to reducing that risk and promoting safety each and every day.

Provide a System of Accountability and Credibility – Accreditation allows parents, grandparents, and other guardians to put their trust in the accredited equine program that has a system of accountability and credibility behind it. The accredited facility has shown that it will go to great lengths to meet set safety standards, is willing to be evaluated, and has passed the inspection of professional CHA Site Visitors who inspect the facility for compliance of each and every standard. Businesses set themselves above other potential businesses under consideration by a parent or guardian by voluntarily applying for and meeting industry standards set forth by an international organization that focuses on safety, effectiveness, and quality.

Improve the Industry as a Whole – It behooves all of us to raise the level of programs available within the equine industry. This allows us to have better lesson programs, better care for our horses, top-notch training and competition programs, better horse camps, etc. As facilities raise their standards to meet an international accreditation like that provided by CHA, then it benefits all participants. As is written in the Introduction, the “Standards for Equestrian Programs is offered for the benefit, safety, and improvement of the equine industry and the clients and horses it serves.”

Meet Customer Demand – In today’s market, the consumer has many options for almost anything they desire. And today’s consumer has learned how to do research, especially thanks to the internet, to find the best business that will meet their needs. Most consumers want a high-quality product or service, and CHA Accreditation signals to potential customers that a business has met high standards. In addition, since the US government does not regulate equine facilities, YET, having businesses meet standards set by the industry becomes even more important. And if the US government does decide to regulate the equine industry down the road, the framework will already be in place for those businesses that already have CHA Site Accreditation.

Market Themselves More Effectively – If an equine business markets themselves as CHA Accredited and lets potential customers know the importance of that designation, they have then set themselves above their competition in the market. It becomes especially important if there is another accredited facility within a particular market. For if the competitor is CHA Accredited and another is not, then the business that is not may see a decline in business as customers choose another facility. Accredited facilities should make sure to use the CHA logo on all advertising, letterheads, displays, and marketing materials. In addition, the CHA Site Accreditation sign can be displayed on the property. Those programs that are accredited are also promoted through CHA, such as in the database of certified riding instructors and accredited facilities at www.CHAInstructors.com.

Demonstrate Professionalism – It is another way for a business to show that it is professionally run. One of the main reasons CHA Site Accreditation is offered is to educate facility owners and program operators on how to manage key areas of their programs, especially in the areas of safety. For a facility to be accredited, it must have written policies that meet standards set forth in the manual. These policies allows program management to develop its program how it wants to operate, maintains consistency, assists with training staff, clarifies the responsibilities of the staff, and encourages safety and good business practices.

CHA believes that facilities and individuals striving to follow the standards set forth in the manual promote a safer environment for equine activities. Even if your equine program is already striving and meeting the safety standards set forth in the Standards for Equestrian Programs manual, you may think, why do I need to become accredited? Let me ask you, why not? CHA Accreditation is like earning the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.”

For more information on what is required for accreditation, how the process works, or to apply, please visit the Site Accreditation section of the CHA website.

CHA Site Accreditation

To purchase the CHA Standards for Equestrian Programs manual, please visit the CHA Store Online or call 859-259-3399.

Why Becoming Accredited is Important for Equestrian Programs and Facilities

* Please Note: If a camp or a program for riders with disabilities is not CHA Accredited, it may hold an accreditation through the American Camp Association (ACA) or the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) International. While these programs are different from CHA Accreditation, they do provide similar benefits. In addition, a facility with accreditation status from ACA or PATH can also apply for CHA Site Accreditation if they so choose.

Information not to Include:

For a CHA Business/Program Member to earn their Site Accreditation, they must be a member in good standing, fill out the application for Site Accreditation, and then pay their CHA Site Accreditation fees and the travel expenses for two CHA Site Visitors to come to the facility for a visit, which is usually during business hours. In addition, the business must create a self-assessment notebook using the Standards for Equestrian Programs manual. Any concerns should be addresses, staff and volunteers should receive additional training if necessary, and this should also be documented. In addition, any maintenance or upgrades should be completed before the site inspection. It is time to put your best foot, and hooves, forward.

During the site inspection, a member of management usually gives a tour of the facility to the Site Visitors and be the person of contact throughout the day. Then the Site Visitors will start verification of each standard, making notes along the way. They do not determine accreditation status. This is done after the Site Visitors send in all their information and notes by the CHA Program Director, who is an official CHA staff member. The site is scored, and if it meets all the requirements, then staff will receive the accreditation certificate, a CHA Accredited Site outdoor sign, and other accreditation materials. The facility must continue compliance with the standards and submit written documentation every year and also inform CHA of any major changes to the facility.

If the site is denied, management can re-apply after six months, or if necessary, an appeal can be made to the CHA Grievance Committee.

Youth Involvement 101 – Kids & Horses

Kids and horses are a magical combination. Seeing the joy that washes over a child’s face while they ride for the first time is truly inspiring. If you are a parent, grandparent, or other guardian looking for ways for a special young person in your life to get into riding, rest assured that there are plenty of options. Each option has different time and financial commitments, which could also differ based on the local club or group you become involved with within a national organization.

The Certified Horsemanship Association offers options through its members, who are riding instructors, driving instructors, instructors for riders with disabilities, vaulting coaches, trail guides, equestrian facility staff, or camp staff. If you want to try lessons for the child in your life, CHA’s certified experts are a great option. It’s important to understand the credentials of anyone you work with, do thorough research, and make a careful decision because you want to make sure your child gets off to the right start and has a positive and safe experience. In a past blog post, CHA explored why it’s important to find a certified instructor. http://cha-ahse.org/store/blog/why_a_certified_instructor.html.

To look for CHA members in your area that are certified and offering riding opportunities in your area, you can search the free online database at CHA.horse. You can also find CHA Accredited Facilities at that same link. And once you have a list of options in your area, CHA offers more information on how to choose a riding instructor at http://cha-ahse.org/store/blog/choosing_an_instructor.html or you can listen to CHA’s interview of two experts on the subject on this recording of the CHA Segment on Horses in the Morning. http://www.horseradionetwork.com/2016/04/19/hitm-for-04-19-2016-by-cha-choosing-summer-camp-or-lesson-program

In addition to riding lessons, many children have their first experience with horses at a camp or just do a search for all CHA facilities in your area. You can search for a CHA Accredited Facility that is a camp on CHA.horse by typing in “camp” into the search field. To read more about finding a camp with horses, check out the blog posts titled, “Attending a Camp with Horseback Riding” at http://cha-ahse.org/store/blog/horse_camps.html and “How to Find the Best Horse Camp” at http://cha-ahse.org/store/blog/how_to_find_the_best_horse_camp.html. In addition, the American Camp Association has been a partner of CHA in the past and offers an abundance of information on their website. http://www.acacamps.org

In the past, CHA has even offered CHA Young Riders Clinics for new young riders. http://www.equisearch.com/discoverhorses/video/video-cha-young-riders-clinic-23140

In addition to CHA instructors and camps, there are many additional options in the equine industry for youth to get involved. Some of the most well-known options include 4-H, FFA, and Pony Clubs. One thing to remember with 4-H and FFA is that they are not just exclusively about horses, so if your child is ONLY interested in horses and would not enjoy the other activities, then you may want to go with one of the other organizations mentioned below.

4-H is the Cooperative Extension System’s youth development program with 110 U.S. land-grand universities involved, which helps to make it the largest youth development organization with more than six million kids involved between the ages of 8 and 18 in more than 3,000 counties in rural, suburban, and rural areas across the United States. Every state and county across America, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, and 80 other countries have local offices. The equine curriculum has five horse project activity guides with Levels 1-3 focusing on “horseless” activities, while riding and horsemanship is the focus of Levels 4 and 5. To look into joining or volunteering with 4-H, or to learn more, visit www.4-H.org to find your local 4-H office.

The National FFA Organization, mostly known as FFA, or the Future Farmers of America, involves teaching youth about livestock, including horses, and agricultural topics, although it is not just for those who want to be farmers. Anyone interested in those topics or those who want to become a teacher, doctor, scientist, veterinarian, engineer, chemist, biologist, business owner, etc., would benefit from involvement in FFA. Students participate in classroom and laboratory instruction, supervised agricultural programs, and student leadership opportunities within the organization. And for those who start FFA as a child and want to continue, there is the Collegiate FFA, programs for adults, and the opportunity to volunteer as an adult. FFA allows participants to connect with a mentor, win awards, and participate on horse judging and horsemanship teams. Within these teams, your child will learn how to judge horses just like the professionals do at horse competitions. To get involved with FFA, look for the nearest chapter organized at the local school level. This chapter is connected to your state’s association underneath the national organization. To learn more, visit www.ffa.org.

The United States Pony Clubs (USPC) provides horsemanship and horse care instruction. Its core values include horsemanship, organized teamwork, and respect for horse and self through horsemanship, service, and education. Participants can now stay within the organization until they are 25 if they meet requirements. There is no minimum age set by the national organization, but many local clubs set a minimum age. There are Pony Clubs in many countries worldwide, and the U.S.’s organization was originally an offshoot of the British Pony Club. USPC offers mounted and unmounted meetings, clinics, rallies, certifications, exchanges, and other special opportunities. Certifications are available within the disciplines of dressage, show jumping, and some Western disciplines. To become a member of USPC, members join through their local Pony Club or through a riding center that has been recognized by the USPC to administer the Pony Club program. Parents and volunteers administer the program; this is important to keep in mind since it will involve a time commitment from whoever is taking the child to meetings and events. With that said, this type of activity, which requires parental participation, is a great way to get involved and bond with your child, grandchild, niece, nephew, etc. While horse ownership is not required, participants must arrange to have a pony or horse available to ride and may need to trailer that horse to meetings or events. But don’t let this discourage you. Many riding centers can provide a horse for a child to use for Pony Club activities, as long as it is not a stallion and the mount is at least five years old. To learn more, visit www.ponyclub.org.

The National Little Britches Association (NLBRA) is for children ages 5 to 18 who want to participate in rodeo events and Pee Wee Rodeos. There are almost 400 youth rodeos within 15 states, and these events allow youth to qualify for the National Finals Rodeo. While it seems like a smaller organization, it involves more than 2,000 kids from 27 states that compete in NLBRA events every year. Equine events include breakaway calf roping, tie-down calf roping, team roping, barrel racing, pole bending, and goat tying. For more information, visit www.nlbra.com.

One organization helps youth and youth leaders in the equine industry regardless of breed or discipline organization. That is the American Youth Horse Council (AYHC), which serves as a national information center that offers ongoing training opportunities to youth and to people looking to teach kids about horses. AYHC strives to provide opportunities for youth leaders to network among adults in the industry. It also produces high-quality educational resources for kids. AYHC grants helps youth to attend equine activities in the United States.

In addition to these organizations, there are also youth organizations within most horse breed and discipline organizations. These organizations offer a variety of activities, leadership opportunities, ways for children to be mentored, events and conferences, and even all-youth championship horse shows. Some examples include the:

  • American Quarter Horse Youth Association (AQHYA),
  • American Junior Paint Horse Association (AjPHA),
  • National Reining Horse Youth Association (NRHYA),
  • Arabian Horse Youth Association (AHYA),
  • Appaloosa Youth Association (AYA),
  • American Morgan Horse Association Youth (AMHAY),
  • National Reined Cow Horse Association Youth (NRCHAY),
  • National Youth Cutting Horse Association (NYCHA),
  • And many more.

Many organizations offer contests and youth awards through their youth associations or through the parent organization. It’s important to keep this in mind and research in advance since some of these awards must be applied for in advance or require an accumulation of points or achievements, which can help kids focus towards achieving a goal. Some awards are not just for riding achievements; many are given to those who exemplify sportsmanship, volunteerism, leadership, commitment, dedication, and other similar traits that adults are trying to teach to the next generation. Some contests and awards may be geared toward youth with a special talent, such as art, photography, writing, etc. Several youth awards offered by breed and discipline organizations include scholarships and grants.

Within one of the largest disciplines, dressage, the United States Dressage Federation (USDF) offers a variety of programs for youth on upward. USDF’s Platinum Performance Junior/Young Rider Clinic Series offers educational opportunities for riders age 14 to 21, while the Young Rider Graduate Program educates riders age 20-28. Many of these riders may go on to compete in upper-level dressage events. Clinics by some of the top dressage clinicians continue the dressage education for attendees on a variety of topics. Meanwhile, the Youth Dressage Sport Horse Breeder/Handler Seminar assists those with a desire to specialize in sport horse breeding and handling and to familiarize them with the breeding and showing of dressage prospects and breeding stock.

In addition to various opportunities for education, USDF offers the USDF Youth Convention Scholarship Program to provide financial support to young dressage enthusiasts who want to attend the annual convention. And the Ravel Education Grants recognizes outstanding displays of sportsmanship among USDF youth. These grants can help cover expenses associated with attending an educational dressage event of the winners’ choice.

In addition to the programs above, don’t forget to ask your student’s school if they have recognized or affiliated programs within the equine industry. One example is the USDF Youth Dressage Rider Recognition Pin Program, which provides pins to kids from sixth grade through 12th grade if their middle school or high school or home school program is a participating member.

A similar program includes the United States Equestrian Federation’s Athlete Letter Program for kids in fifth grade through 12th grade who document their training and competition involvement in order to win emblems and pins, just like other sports earn letters and pins for school jackets. In addition, USEF started offering the USEF High School Scholarship, which provides $1,000 grant to one graduating high school senior that plans on pursuing an equestrian-related degree or compete on an intercollegiate equestrian team. One of the most prestigious national awards is the USEF Youth Sportsman’s Award, which was designed to develop leaders in the equine industry from all breeds and disciplines. Each year, USEF seeks a winner that demonstrates a commitment and dedication to the promotion of equestrian sport and who can serve as a role model for peers, be involved in community activities, and exhibit great sportsmanship. One final honor available to juniors is the USEF Junior Equestrian of the Year Award, which is one of USEF’s most prestigious awards. It is given to a junior member of USEF who exhibits the qualities of good sportsmanship and integrity and who exemplifies exceptional talent and dedication to the sport while showing compassion for horses and horse welfare. For more information on USEF’s programs, visit www.USEF.org.

The Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) is offered for kids in grades 6th through 12th, and participants do not need to own a horse. Riders of various levels compete on IEA teams in hunt seat and Western disciplines throughout the school year for individual and team points and accolades. IEA teams are offered through public and private schools and through participating barns. Riders draw a name of a horse that has been provided for the competition and compete on that mount. There are more than 11,000 members competing in hundreds of events across the United States. For more information, visit www.RideIEA.org.

While this is not an exhaustive list of organizations with some sort of youth program, these are some of the most well-known programs. So whether you own a horse or not, and whether your child wants to ride or participate in another way, there are a variety of options. Stay tuned to our blog for a future post on the options available to college students.

College Level

The American National Riding Commission (ANRC) offers a rider certification program to schools, colleges, and universities, along with public or private riding programs. The goal is to promote the American System of Forward Riding. ANRC also offers instructional riding clinics, forums and symposiums on related topics, and cooperation with other organizations whose purposes align with those of ANRC. The ANRC Intercollegiate Equitation Championship offers college students a national championship that tests riders in a team aboard either college-owned horses or privately owned horses in a program ride (that includes USEF hunter equitation tests), a hunter seat equitation medal course, a derby course with natural jumps in a field, and a written test based on riding theory and stable management developed from the United States Hunter Jumper Association’s Trainer’s Certification Manual. For more information, please visit www.anrc.org.

The Intercollegiate/Interscholastic Dressage Association (IDA) allows college students to include dressage into their college experience. Every school year, colleges throughout the United States and Canada allow IDA riders to earn individual and team points through competitions in Introductory, Lower Training, Upper Training, and First Level. In 2015, dressage seat equitation was added. Riders compete on horses provided by the host college through random draw and are granted a 10-minute warm-up session aboard their mount. Regional winners go on to compete in a national championship that hosts 12 teams and 12 individual riders in the four areas levels listed above. IDA is a great option for riders who do not own horses or who have never done dressage, but who want to add it to their riding experience. For more information, visit www.teamdressage.com.

The Interscholastic Horse Show Association (IHSA) is for riders of all skill levels who compete on teams and as individuals within an IHSA region, zone, and at the national level across the United States and in parts of Canada. Anyone, regardless of riding experience, can compete for their participating college. Riders compete in hunt seat equitation, Western horsemanship, jumping, and reining. Riders do not need to own a horse, and the host college will provide horses for a competition. Riders compete by random draw and ride the horse they have drawn. For more information, visit www.ihsainc.com.

The Intercollegiate Saddle Seat Riding Association (ISSRA) is still a fairly new organization. At this point it is only eight years old. ISSRA’s mission is to establish saddle seat riding teams at colleges and universities across the United States for beginners through advanced riders. Participants do not need to own a horse since each team is paired with a local riding school as their home base. Their home base provides saddle seat instruction and team practices aboard the riding stable’s horses, as well as coaching at shows. This is the first program for saddle seat riding in an intercollegiate equestrian program. For more information, visit www.intercollegiatesaddleseat.com.

The National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA), formerly Varsity Equestrian, was created to continue the advancement of equestrian sport as an emerging sport within the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

Your Cheat Sheet to College Riding Teams

Why You Should Find a Certified Riding Instructor

By Sarah Evers Conrad

So has it finally started? Has your child started asking for a horse? Or at least some riding lessons? Or maybe you are the one who dreams of galloping across an open field on your trusty steed. But how do you get started? Perhaps your first thought is to open up the Yellow Pages, or more often these days, run to the Internet to Google it. The problem with this is that anyone can advertise themselves as a riding instructor.

Think about this: Do you really want to trust just anyone to put your child on a 1,000-pound animal with a mind of its own? What about if they really don’t know what they are doing and there is an accident? Just like fitness trainers, emergency medical technicians, bus drivers, and auto mechanics require special training and a certificate or license to be in their field, so should riding instructors. For safety reasons alone, not just anyone should be able to call themselves a riding instructor and open up for business. Unfortunately, there is no law requiring this, but you can seek out a certified riding instructor for yourself or your child. And this is the smartest thing to do, especially if the prospective rider is a beginner.

The example above illustrates one of the best reasons to learn from a certified riding instructor, but there are many more reasons to find a certified instructor, and some excellent reasons why you should find someone certified through the Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA).

The Importance of Certification

First off, let’s look at why you should find a certified instructor, and then we will get into why that instructor should be certified by the Certified Horsemanship Association.

1. Learning how to ride involves more than just climbing aboard and learning how to steer. Becoming an equestrian (a horseman or horsewoman) involves learning the following main items: how to take care of horses; how to handle horses in a safe and effective manner, both while mounted and on the ground; what to do in case of an emergency; how to care for the various parts of an equine facility–from the stall, to the tack room, to the fencing and beyond; what equipment and clothing you will need for riding and possibly competing, if you go that route; how to interact with other equestrians safely and appropriately, especially while mounted or in competition; what equipment (also called tack) is used on the horse; why certain tack is used; how to use tack; how to take care of tack; and more. These are just the basics. There is so much more to learn if you decide to compete or become a professional who works within the equine industry.

2. A certified instructor also knows what they are doing when they evaluate the rider’s position and technique while he/she is in the saddle. The instructor should be able to teach the rider how to ride with the correct position while also stressing safety and effectiveness.

3. A certified riding instructor will know when and how to make adjustments in tack, technique, and form, all while giving constructive criticism.

4. A certified instructor can teach the student about horse behavior and how to get the desired results from horses with different personalities without squashing the spirit of the horse. The beauty of horses are that they are not machines. Each one has a different personality, and when a rider knows how to work with various equine personalities in a harmonious fashion, then they have moved into the more advanced stages of horsemanship.

5. A certified riding instructor knows how to make each lesson fun. Even when a rider is having a frustrating moment, a certified instructor will know how to help the rider move through and past it so that the lesson becomes fun again. After all, that is what riding is all about. Most people get into it for the fun.

6. A certified instructor knows how to match a horse’s personality to a rider’s personality. This is important at a larger stable with multiple school horses or when buying that first horse.

7. A certified instructor knows how to instill self-confidence and can keep a rider from getting frustrated when a movement or lesson has not been going smoothly.

8. A certified riding instructor will know why certain things are done a certain way, but will also know about various methods of teaching and the various schools of thought that have developed during man’s history with horses. One example comes to mind when thinking of how an instructor can teach why things are done. Why do we put our heels down, and how far down should they be? Based on the discipline, your heels will be down hardly at all or quite a bit, and you don’t want to jam them down. Your heels act as shock absorbers for you and helps keep your pelvis open when you ride instead of it being closed. This then lessens bouncing while you ride. Knowing the “whys” and theory of riding is something a certified instructor will keep up on and be able to explain, and if you have a question they can’t answer, they will find the answer for you and get back with you!

9. A certified instructor can teach a beginning rider correctly from the start. It is a lot easier to begin riding with good habits vs. trying to break a rider’s bad habits that have been learned from a poor instructor. Getting off to a correct start can prevent a rider from wasting valuable time and money with a poor instructor, as well.

10. A certified riding instructor will know how to choose school horses carefully for their program. Therefore, riders at a barn with a certified instructor and multiple school horses will gain experience riding many different types of horses instead of just practicing with one or two horses owned by a non-certified instructor teaching in their back yard.

11. And for the rider who decides to go it alone and teach himself/herself how to ride using only videos, books, and the Internet, then this rider will be missing out on a lot of useful knowledge and the resources that a certified instructor can provide. In addition, the rider would not receive any of the benefits mentioned above. It is best to use a certified instructor and then supplement that instruction with the above sources.

12. One thing to remember is that even the best riders in the world have instructors or coaches. Professional horsemen and women know that there is always something valuable to learn from another well-trained equestrian. Many of those Olympic equestrians likely had their first ride with a riding instructor on a school horse.

The Importance of Certification from CHA

While there are other organizations that certify riders, several of these are designed for the more advanced rider or for the rider of a certain discipline. But for the purpose of this article, we have been discussing the more grassroots rider…the beginner. And this is the level of rider that CHA has strived to help the most throughout its 45+ year history. For those other organizations that certify instructors for beginning riders and beyond, many are not as in-depth and rigorous in their testing and requirements for their instructors to receive certification. For various reasons below, the program created by the Certified Horsemanship Association weeds out inexperienced instructors, leading to certified instructors that are better options for the beginning rider.

1. First and foremost, instructors certified through CHA have had to actually attend a multi-day intensive certification clinic, where they are tested with written tests, evaluated by two CHA clinic instructors and their peers (other clinic attendees), and where they participate in in-depth workshops and must share their ideas and teaching methods. Only then are they given a certification at the discretion of the two CHA certified instructors leading the clinic. This is much more involved than merely sending in a video, etc., for certification.

2. CHA certified instructors are tested on five of the most important aspects needed for a good instructor. These are: safety, horsemanship knowledge and ability, teaching techniques, group control, and responsibility and professionalism. Aspiring instructors must show proficiency in these five areas or they will go home without certification.

3. CHA instructors are only certified to the level that they can teach, meaning that an instructor should not be teaching beyond that level. So when a parent or prospective rider is seeking out an instructor, they know how far that instructor will be able to take them. However, certification and the level should be verified by the new student before starting with any instructor.

4. Since a CHA certified instructor has invested their time and their money to attend a certification clinic and participate in CHA’s program, a student will know that this instructor is a serious professional. They have committed themselves to demonstrating that they are a knowledgeable, safe, and effective instructor and business manager.

5. CHA instructors must also keep up to date on the latest techniques, news, and knowledge within their industry. By participating in 25 hours or more of continuing education and work within the equine industry, they can renew their certification once it has expired in three years vs. being re-tested at another clinic. Or to raise their level of certification, they are required to go through the testing process again. It is just as rigorous and intensive to raise his/her teaching certificate level.

6. Most CHA certified instructors continue learning more themselves at hands-on clinics and workshops put on by CHA or other equine organizations. This striving for excellence is certainly a reason to enlist the help of a CHA certified instructor to teach you or your child how to ride.

With these 18 reasons to use a certified riding instructor, and more importantly, one who is certified through CHA, we hope you can see the importance of not just choosing anyone off the Internet or at the recommendation of another person who does not ride themselves. To find a CHA instructor, visit HYPERLINK “http://www.CHAInstructors.com” https://cha.horse/

Stayed tuned to this blog for the next topic: How to find the best certified riding instructor for you.

Further Reading: Learn more about what it takes to begin riding with the book, Ready to Ride. This must-have book discusses how to choose a breed or riding style, looking for an instructor, what equipment you will need, how to lease a horse, cost factors, and more. Written with safety and the best education in mind, this book can be bought online at CHA’s store. HYPERLINK “http://cha-ahse.org/store/products/Ready_to_Ride_Book.html”

Socially CHA: Connecting with the Certified Horsemanship Association

By Sarah Evers Conrad

The Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA) offers many ways to connect online and receive information and updates on the organization’s events and programs. CHA works hard to keep members and non-members informed and to share educational materials. For those who want to receive CHA’s updates, there are a variety of ways to connect online with us that are listed below. In addition, we have listed important sections of the CHA website that are updated frequently with important news and information.

One of the best ways to connect with CHA is the monthly e-newsletter. Each e-newsletter has updates from CHA, links to important information, discount opportunities, job postings, upcoming radio show announcements, CHA events, and more. If you want to receive the newsletter straight to your email inbox, subscribe on the left-hand side of the CHA website. http://cha-ahse.org/

Facebook Page: CHA’s Facebook page is a favorite among members and non-members. With almost 8,000 Fans, the page offers updates on CHA events, such as certification clinics and the annual conference, details on the CHA Radio Show guests that appear on Horses in the Morning every third Tuesday of the month. In addition, the Facebook page shares interesting information for horse owners, riding instructors, and riders. We also share posts made by CHA’s partners, which were discussed in last month’s blog post (link to last month’s post).
https://www.facebook.com/CHAinstructors

There is also a Facebook page dedicated to the CHA International Conference at https://www.facebook.com/events/807480385976674/. Other events have their own pages, too. There is a list of events on the CHA fan page’s Events Tab or you can go to https://www.facebook.com/CHAinstructors/events. These events include Skills Clinics, Certification Clinics, the Horses in the Morning Radio Show with CHA, webinars, and more.

Facebook Closed Group: In addition to CHA’s main fan page, CHA has a private group that people can request to join. Members of the group are also active in sharing useful content with their fellow group members. It’s a very interactive experience and a way to get to know other CHA members.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/45943538052/

For additional Facebook experiences based on regions, please see below.

YouTube: Another of CHA’s main social media channels is our YouTube channel. There CHA has 60+ videos on horsemanship and safety topics. To encourage education in horsemanship, CHA encourages anyone to embed the videos on their website. On the CHA YouTube channel, you can learn how to perform a horse safety check, how to fit a helmet, pack and trail riding essentials, how to put horse boots on a horse’s legs, how to take vital signs, and more. In addition, there are promo videos for a lot of the DVDs sold in the CHA online store (link to store). There are also four sample lessons that were recorded at CHA Certification Clinics. These videos can help prepare riding instructors for a Certification Clinic and teach what to expect at a clinic. CHA adds new videos every year, so please subscribe to the YouTube channel so you don’t miss anything.
https://www.youtube.com/user/chainstructor

Twitter: For fans of Twitter, the CHA Twitter page also offers information for riding instructors, horse owners, and other horse lovers. Links are provided for further information. Those who wish to share CHA’s posts are encouraged to retweet. One thing to note with Twitter is that updates about the CHA International Conference use the hashtag #CHAiCON.
https://twitter.com/chainstructors

Pinterest: CHA loves the visual aspect of Pinterest. After all, there is a lot that can be shared about horses visually. At this time, CHA’s Pinterest presence has 25 boards and more than 500 pins, and it is growing all of the time. Board topics include equestrian lingo, riding exercises, disciplines, trail riding, emergency preparedness, equipment, horse shows, equestrian getaways, barn design, equine holiday ideas, breeds, horses in movies and TV, and much more. Please feel free to re-pin CHA’s pins and add CHA to your Pinterest experience.
https://www.pinterest.com/chainstructors/

LinkedIn: Since CHA is a membership organization in which its members are business professionals (instructors, horse industry professionals, trainers, etc.), then LinkedIn makes it a great place for members to connect. CHA’s LinkedIn Group has almost 900 members. Members are free to start discussions, connect with each other, and share news that is relevant to group members.

More Facebook

Facebook Regional Fan Pages or Groups: Many of CHA’s Regional Directors have created pages or groups associated with their CHA region, so that they can share news for their members.

Region 1 Page: https://www.facebook.com/charegion1

Region 1 Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/CHARegion1

Region 2 Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/charegion2

Region 3 Page: https://www.facebook.com/CHARegion3

Region 4 Page: https://www.facebook.com/CHARegion4

Region 6 Page: https://www.facebook.com/Certified-Horsemanship-Association-Region-6-160014504121741/timeline/

Region 7 Page: https://www.facebook.com/CHA-Region-7-199189846758224

Region 8 Page: https://www.facebook.com/CHARegion8

Region 10 Page: https://www.facebook.com/CHARegion10

In addition to connecting with us on social media platforms, CHA also offers continuous updates on the following webpages or website sections on its main website. These include:

Guest Announcements for CHA’s Radio Segment on Horses in the Morning: https://cha.horse/education#horse-radio-show

The CHA Way Blog Posts: http://cha-ahse.org/store/blog/

2015 CHA International Conference updates: https://cha.horse/international-conference/

Webinars:

Products for Sale on our Online Store:

Updates to the Clinic Schedule for Certification and Skills Clinics:

Job Openings:

Sarah Evers Conrad is currently the Digital Content Editor at Horse Illustrated and Young Rider magazines. She also owns All In Stride Marketing. She is an award-winning equestrian journalist with a background in magazine publishing, feature writing, news and event coverage, editing, digital marketing, social media, and website management. Conrad has been published in equine publications such as The Horse, Blood-Horse, Equestrian, Arabian Horse Life, USDF Connection, the American Quarter Horse Journal, Paint Horse Journal, Off-Track Thoroughbred, Stable Management, Camp Business magazine, Lexington Family magazine, and HorsesDaily.com and DressageDaily.com. She is also the current editor for the Certified Horsemanship Association’s official publication, The Instructor magazine. Conrad has also edited several books, including CHA’s “The Equine Professional Manual—The Art of Teaching Riding.” Learn more at www.equestrianjournalist.com.