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 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 http://cha-ahse.org/store/pages/23/Membership_Application.html.
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.