& CHA Certification Clinics
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Benefits of CHA Certification
CHA has developed a highly-lauded certification process for arena instructors, trail guides, instructors of riders with disabilities, vaulting coaches, driving instructors and drivers, equine facility managers and seasonal equestrian staff. Riding instructors are evaluated in five areas: safety, horsemanship knowledge and ability, teaching techniques, group control, and responsibility and, professionalism. Other certifications include evaluation in areas based on the topics of that particular program. CHA’s certification process has been continually monitored and refined for more than 40 years in order to meet the needs of a changing horse industry.
The purpose of CHA certification is to evaluate the existing knowledge and skill level of the clinic participants and to grant certification at the level that each participant is able to demonstrate his/her proficiency throughout the certification clinic, not to teach participants how to become an instructor, trail guide, etc. Everyone is certain to learn a lot at the clinic through all the knowledge shared by both participants and Certifiers, however CHA Certifiers do not certify new found knowledge.
THE BENEFITS OF CHA CERTIFICATION are numerous and affect not only the individual certified, but also the employer, program manager and the student/client. Certification is a validation of the individual’s knowledge and ability and demonstrates to employers and customers that the certified individual has been proven against a respected standard, under independent evaluation. Certification means the individual is committed to professional standards and is proven to be safe, knowledgeable and effective. Additional benefits of CHA certification are insurance discounts, marketing/advertising advantages, increased employment opportunities and the experience of a “hands-on” program that offers critique by teaching experts and the opportunity to network with peers and colleagues. A range of levels of certification is available and certification maybe received at the end of the clinic.
CHA CERTIFICATION CLINICS ARE AFFORDABLE AND ACCESSIBLE Certification clinics are held at program member facilities throughout North America and are an exceptional value. Host facilities may charge from $600-$900 for a 5-day certification clinic, which typically includes lodging and meals. Clinic fees always include student manuals, instructor manuals, and CHA membership and certification fees. For a current certification clinic schedule, see Clinics by Date and Clinics by Location on this website.
CHA’S MINIMUM CERTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS Instructor candidates must be a minimum age depending on the certification on the date of certification (no exceptions). A candidate for certification must have sufficient experience with horses and people to assume responsibility for the safety and well-being of groups of less experienced riders/clients. Candidates must have strong organizational skills and communicate clearly. Candidates must be able to demonstrate the ability to catch, lead, groom, tack and generally handle and care for horses without assistance. Instructor candidates must be able to ride/perform above the level at which they will be certified to teach. Instructor candidates must be able to mount, dismount and ride at the walk, trot and canter/lope on the correct lead, with good form and control in a group, in the arena and in the open.
CHA Certification Competency Guidelines
These guidelines reflect the minimum desirable characteristics for CHA certification.
Prior to attending a CHA Certification clinic in any of our programs, a potential participant should read and understand these guidelines and do a self-assessment of his/her ability to meet them.
1. SAFETY: Have a strong awareness of horsemanship safety and be able to identify and mitigate safety concerns. Be calm and objective in emergency situations.
2. BASIC HORSE HANDLING: Have the ability to safely and independently catch, halter, lead, tie, and groom horses.
3. HORSEMANSHIP: For any certification program that involves riding, be able to ride at the walk, trot/jog, and canter/lope in the arena or an open area with correct diagonals and leads and with control.
4. KNOWLEDGE: Have knowledge of horsemanship theory and skills beyond the level of certification to which you aspire.
5. HORSE CARE: Have basic knowledge of equine anatomy and physiology and be able to implement management practices related to feeding, health care, and use of horses. Be able to prevent if possible and manage if needed equine lameness, sickness and disease. Demonstrate and mandate kind, caring and humane attitudes and treatment of horses at all times.
6. TACK: Have the ability to assess the suitability, condition, fit, and adjustment of all tack and equipment used in the specific program.
7. GROUP RIDING INSTRUCTION: For CHA’s instructor programs only, be able to teach horsemanship theory and application, and be able to manage the people and horses in a group environment of at least three riders. This includes arena, trail, and therapeutic riding activities. Have the ability to design, implement, and evaluate instruction techniques for effectiveness and to strengthen the performance of both horse and rider.
8. COMMUNICATION: Whether teaching riding, driving, or vaulting, instructing barn staff in procedures, or dealing with the public, be able to positively and effectively communicate with others both verbally and in writing.
9. PROFESSIONALISM: Demonstrate and encourage professional behavior, setting a good example in attitude, language, and appearance at all times. Have knowledge of and comply with legal and ethical requirements related to duty of care, liability, and professional conduct.
10. SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: CHA recognizes that some individuals may not be able to meet all the above criteria due to the personal limitations caused by the physical effects of aging, injury, medical conditions, or permanent disability. See CHA’s Considerations for Certification under Exceptional Circumstances for more information.
THE CERTIFICATION PROCESS
A CERTIFICATION CLINIC
Candidates will teach lessons/skills demonstrations on topics assigned by the Certifier, according to the candidate’s ability level. When not teaching, the riding instructor candidates will ride in lessons, role-playing as a student. All riding instructor candidates will give oral evaluations of their own lessons, as well as the lessons given by other candidates; Certifiers will also give oral and written evaluations of lessons for safety, group control and effectiveness. Candidates will also be evaluated throughout the clinic on their professionalism, including appropriate dress, attitude and demeanor. Expect full days with lots of outdoor activity. Participants may also be expected to help with horse chores. PACK YOUR BAGS What to bring to a certification clinic will depend on the type of clinic, time of year and the location of the host facility. Specific information will be sent to participants after registration. Clothing should be safe, neat and suitable for riding and barn chores. Participants should bring their own riding helmet or will be required to wear a helmet provided by the host facility. Participants should be prepared for classroom sessions and note taking, and it may be helpful to bring resources for use in planning lessons (books, poster board, models, charts, etc.). Suitable school horses and all necessary equipment are provided by the host facility. Private horses are not allowed. It is acceptable for a participant to bring and use his/her own saddle, provided it fits the provided horses, is in good repair and available for everyone’s use during the clinic. HOW TO REGISTER FOR A CERTIFICATION CLINIC Browse our website by state or by date for current certification clinic listings, then contact the CHA Office for registration information. Upon registration, participants will receive appropriate manuals, necessary forms and information help prepare for the clinic.
Trail Guide Certification (TRL)
Hunting by horseback, with Chad Coppess
Trail Guide Certification is offered for guides working in programs that range from short trail rides up to extended wilderness packing trips. The five‐day certifications include two nights at the base camp and three nights on the trail. The certification process includes teaching at least four practice lessons/skills, a riding evaluation, and a written test. Participants are evaluated on safety, horsemanship and camping skills, environmental issues and trail ethics, guiding and teaching skills, group control and professionalism. The level of certification attained, if any, is at the sole discretion of the CHA Certifiers and is determined by skills and knowledge demonstrated during the certification clinic.
- ASSISTANT TRAIL GUIDE: Minimum age 16. Qualified to assist on trail rides under the direction and supervision of a certified trail guide.
- LEVEL 1 TRAIL GUIDE: Minimum age 18. Qualified to conduct trail rides not exceeding one full day in duration, including securing horses away from the base stable, as might be needed for breaks.
- LEVEL 2 OVERNIGHT GUIDE: Minimum age 18. Qualified to take riders on overnight campouts on the program’s property with support from the host facility. Must be able to secure horses for overnight, but does not necessarily use packhorses.
- LEVEL 3 PACKING GUIDE: Minimum age 18. Qualified to manage horses and people for longer periods and in camping situations in non‐wilderness areas, including horse packing and the double diamond hitch.
- LEVEL 4 WILDERNESS GUIDE: Minimum age 18. Qualified to manage a trail riding program and able to organize and conduct extended pack trips into backcountry wilderness areas. Must be able to use a variety of packing equipment and tie a variety of hitches.
- TRAIL GUIDE ASSISTANT CERTIFIER: Minimum age 21. Must be a Wilderness Guide and be recommended by both CHA Certifiers. An application process is required.
- TRAIL GUIDE CERTIFIER: Minimum age 25. Qualified to conduct CHA Trail certification clinics and certify Trail Guides in cooperation with another CHA Trail certifier. Must complete an apprenticeship.
Day Ride Trail Guide Certification (DRT)
Certification may be earned at the following levels:
- ASSISTANT DAY RIDE TRAIL GUIDE: Minimum age 16. Qualified to assist on trail rides under the direction and supervision of a Certified Trail Guide.
- DAY RIDE TRAIL GUIDE: Minimum age 18. Qualified to conduct trail rides not exceeding one full day, including securing horses away from the base stable, as might be needed for breaks.
Photo by Wears Valley
Combined English/Western Instructor &
Trail Guide Certification (CMB)
This Combined Certification is designed to meet the needs of programs that offer basic levels of arena instruction and trail riding including overnight rides. Participants may earn both English/Western Instructor Certification in either or both seats and a Trail Guide Certification, but only up to Level 2 in each certification program. This five‐day Combined Certification is similar in format to the English/Western Instructor Certification, with one night spent on an overnight trail ride. The level of certification attained, if any, is at the sole discretion of the CHA Certifiers and is determined by skills and knowledge demonstrated during the certification clinic. See the English/Western Instructor Certification and Trail Guide Certification descriptions for a review of the levels available.
Equine Facility Manager Certification (EFM)
The Equine Facility Manager Certification program is 3 days and is designed to evaluate participants on their skills and knowledge of equine facility management. Certifications are held at commercial equine operations that offer a diversity of functions to enable testing the program content through all four levels. There is a written test at each level with a minimum passing score of 80% that is a prerequisite to moving on to the next level. Skills demonstrations are required at each level. Areas of evaluation are safety, horse handling, horse husbandry, facility management, and professionalism. The level of certification attained, if any, is at the sole discretion of the CHA Certifiers and is determined by skills and knowledge demonstrated during the certification clinic.
Girl Walking Horse for Riding Lesson.
Image by © Will & Deni McIntyre
- LEVEL 1 STABLE WORKER: Minimum age 16. Qualified to work in an equine facility under the supervision of a manager. Must be able to safely catch, halter, lead and secure horses, perform feeding and stable chores, and have basic equine knowledge including parts of the horse, signs of health, and herd behavior.
- LEVEL 2 STABLE MANAGER: Minimum age 18. Qualified to manage a small private stable of up to ten head and one or two employees. Must understand basic equine nutrition, first-aid and routine health maintenance, vital signs, grooming, bedding and manure management, and hoof care.
- LEVEL 3 HERD MANAGER: Minimum age 18. Qualified to manage a public equine facility of up to 35 head and three or four employees. Skills required include care of facility, equipment, and supplies; scheduling programs; personnel management; risk management; stallion/broodmare care; disease control; record keeping; medications and supplements; and communication skills.
- LEVEL 4 EQUINE FACILITY MANAGER: Minimum age 21. Qualified as general manager of a commercial equine operation with greater than 35 head and with five or more employees. Business, financial, and personnel development skills are needed including budgeting, strategic planning; insurance; conflict resolution; federal and local regulations; horse selection and evaluation; staff training; and disaster planning.
- EQUINE FACILITY MANAGER ASSISTANT CERTIFIER: Minimum age 21. Must be a Level 4 Equine Facility Manager and be recommended by both CHA Certifiers. An application process is required.
- EQUINE FACILITY MANAGER CERTIFIER: Minimum age 25. Qualified to conduct CHA Equine Facility Manager certification clinics and certify the Equine Facility Manager levels in cooperation with another CHA Equine Facility Manager certifier. Must complete an apprenticeship.
Instructor of Riders with Disabilities Certification (IRD)
For instructors working in programs that provide recreational, instructional, or mainstream riding for persons with cognitive and/or physical disabilities The materials and curriculum for this six‐day certification clinic are specific to the various considerations, adaptations, applications, contraindications, adaptive equipment, and horses used in equine programs that serve persons with physical and/or cognitive disabilities. Certification includes teaching several demonstration lessons, a riding evaluation and written tests. Participants have the opportunity to do their demonstration lessons with other participants role‐playing as riders with disabilities and with actual clients from the host site. All participants must hold current CPR and First Aid certification. The level of certification attained, if any, is at the sole discretion of the CHA Certifiers and is determined by skills and knowledge demonstrated during the certification clinic.
Certification may be earned at the following levels.
Different levels may be achieved for Cognitive and Physical disabilities.
WITH DISABILITIES ASSISTANT:
- Minimum 18 years of age.
- Document a minimum five (5) hours of working with persons with disabilities in any capacity.
- Qualified to assist in the instruction of riders with disabilities under a certified instructor.
WITH DISABILITIES LEVEL 1:
- Minimum 18 years of age.
- Document a minimum of 25 hours teaching persons with disabilities.
- Pass the IRD written test with a minimum score of 70%.
- Pass the EWI written test with a minimum score of 70%.
- Qualified to teach persons with cognitive and/or physical disabilities up to EWI Level 2 horsemanship skills.
DISABILITIES LEVEL 2:
- Minimum 21 years of age.
- Document a minimum of 120 hours of teaching persons with disabilities.
- Pass the IRD written test with a minimum score of 80%
- Pass the EWI written test with a minimum score of 80%.
- Qualified to teach persons with cognitive and/or physical disabilities up to EWI Level 3 horsemanship skills.
WITH DISABILITIES LEVEL 3:
- Minimum 21 years of age.
- Document a minimum of 160 hours of teaching persons with disabilities.
- Pass the IRD written test with a minimum score of 90%.
- Pass the EWI written test with a minimum score of 85%.
- Highly qualified in horsemanship skills and knowledge of disabilities and demonstrates a strong knowledge of how to address the required issues inherent within each disability.
- Qualified to teach persons with cognitive and/or physical disabilities up to EWI Level 4 horsemanship skills.
DISABILITIES ASSISTANT CERTIFIER:
- Minimum age 25. Must be a Level 3 IRD Instructor in both Cognitive and Physical disabilities and be recommended by both CHA Certifiers. An application process is required.
WITH DISABILITIES CERTIFIER:
- Minimum age 25. Must complete an apprenticeship
College / University Certification
HOSTING REQUIREMENTS: an accredited school, college or university may offer CHA English/Western Instructor or Equine Facility Manager certification as part of their equine studies curriculum. The school or host facility must be a CHA Program Member and meet the requirements for host site approval.
STAFFING: an accredited school, college or university may utilize the school’s equine studies faculty members or hire a CHA Certifier for the academic portion of the certification program (lectures, written test). A final evaluation and certification is conducted at the end of the grading period, staffed by two CHA Certifiers.
During the regular grading period, the college faculty member or a CHA Certifier conducts the academic portion of certification using the CHA manuals, covering the mandatory lectures for certification clinics, conducts and grades the CHA written test, prepares the students for their demonstration lessons and assigns the first one or two demonstration lessons for each student.
At the end of the grading period, two CHA Certifiers come in to evaluate the two to four demonstration lessons from each participant and issue certification.
Up to a 20:2 participant to CHA Certifier ratio is allowed, since these students are better prepared for certification and less time is needed during the certification phase, as many of the requirements are already completed.
Vaulting Coach Certification (VLT)
Vaulting is the art of gymnastics on the back of a moving horse. It is one of seven equestrian disciplines recognized by the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) for international competition and its history dates back to Roman times. It has been an important part of equestrian training, especially cavalry training, for generations. As a competitive sport it is stylized and disciplined. As a recreational activity and teaching aid it is enormously adaptable in scope and application.
Vaulting requires the teamwork of the vaulter, horse & longeur. Vaulting may be done as individuals, pairs or as teams. Vaulters may be doing compulsory exercises on the horse in their first lesson.
Vaulting is a specialized horse activity that is fun. It improves confidence, balance, timing, strength, and suppleness, thus making participants’ better, more secure horseback riders. Since one vaulting horse can address the needs of many vaulters, it is a great way to offer an equine opportunity to many participants.
Vaulting diversifies and enhances any horsemanship program, both for able-bodied and disabled equestrians. A growing number of riding instructors, schools, camps and therapeutic programs are using vaulting to improve their students’ skills.
To learn more about the sport of vaulting visit the American Vaulting Association website at www.americanvaulting.org.
How Can Vaulting Fit Into My Current Riding Program?
LESSON PROGRAM: Many stables choose to develop a complete vaulting lesson program as an adjunct to their riding program. Others use vaulting techniques on a more limited basis, individualizing their vaulting instruction to address specific rider challenges such as building confidence, increasing understanding and feel of the horse’s movement, and creating awareness of the rider’s body position and its effects on the horse.
CAMP PROGRAM: Vaulting is a fun addition to a camp program as it provides opportunities for team building among campers, channels their energy into a positive learning experience, and expands their confidence and sense of accomplishment in a short period of time.
YOUTH ASSOCIATION OR CLUB: Vaulting provides an exciting challenge for club members to work together while improving their horsemanship skills and equine knowledge. Whether vaulting is used for clinics, demonstrations or competitions, it allows for diversity in rider/vaulter skills, use of various horse breeds, and participation across rider economic levels.
THERAPEUTIC PROGRAM: As vaulting allows for great variety in rider positions and movements, it provides an excellent way for therapeutic students to set and achieve goals while increasing their strength, flexibility and balance. With options for individual or team efforts, vaulting offers unlimited opportunities for physical and social development
About CHA Vaulting Coach Certification
The goal of the Vaulting Coach Certification clinics is to provide the vaulting community a certification process through which participants may be evaluated in their skills as coaches to provide a safe, enjoyable and effective vaulting program.
The three-day Vaulting Coach Certification is conducted by two CHA Vaulting Coach Certifiers, whose job it is to evaluate the coaching skills of each participant and offer constructive advice for a safe and effective vaulting program. Vaulting Coach certification clinics are held at CHA Program Member sites approved by the CHA Office. In addition to the regular host site requirements, a vaulting host site needs to offer safe and suitable vaulting areas, equipment and horse, as stated in the American Vaulting Association (AVA) Camps and Club Manual.
Certification is available at three levels ranging from coaching vaulting at walk/trot up to canter in either a recreational and/or competition vaulting program. Current membership with the American Vaulting Association is required for all levels of certification. The level of certification attained, if any, is at the sole discretion of the CHA Certifiers and is determined by skills and knowledge demonstrated during the certification clinic.
Certification may be earned at these levels:
- ASSISTANT VAULTING COACH: Minimum age 16. Qualified to direct warm‐up exercises, spot or longender the direct supervision of a Level 1 or higher certified vaulting coach.
- LEVEL 1 VAULTING COACH: Minimum age 18. Qualified to coach vaulting in a beginner or one‐time vaulting program at walk and beginning trot. Minimum written test score of 70%.
- LEVEL 2 VAULTING COACH: Minimum age 18. Qualified to teach in a vaulting program or club at walk‐trot and beginning canter. Minimum written test score of 80%.
- LEVEL 3 VAULTING COACH: Minimum age 18. Qualified to teach in a vaulting program or club at walk, trot, and canter either recreational and/or competitive. Minimum written test score of 90%.
- VAULTING COACH ASSISTANT CERTIFIER: Minimum age 21. Must be a Level 3 Vaulting Coach and be recommended by both CHA Certifiers. An application process is required.
- VAULTING COACH CERTIFIER: Minimum age 25. Qualified to conduct CHA Vaulting Coach certification clinics and certify vaulting coaches in cooperation with another CHA Vaulting Coach certifier. Must complete an apprenticeship.
This five‐day certification program is for driving instructors who teach group lessons in the camp or commercial driving school setting, and for recreational or commercial drivers. Certification includes single and team driving with multiple vehicle types. Both breast collar and collar harness are addressed. Certification involves teaching multiple lessons or doing skills demonstrations and a written test. There are presentations by the Certifiers in this clinic including Teaching Techniques for Driving, Risk Reduction, Passenger Safety in Loading and Unloading, Harness Fit and Adjustment, Road Driving, Emergency Procedures and Professionalism.
Certification may be earned at the following levels:
Participants may be qualified in Single or Pair. Different levels may be achieved for Driving Instructor and Driver.
- ASSISTANT DRIVING INSTRUCTOR/DRIVER: Minimum age 16. Qualified to assist a certified instructor or driver including grooming, harnessing, ground driving and heading.
- LEVEL 1 DRIVING INSTRUCTOR/DRIVER: Minimum age 18. Qualified to teach/drive single and/or pairs recreationally on private property or in an arena. Must be able to hitch and unhitch, including fitting and adjusting harness, and be able to perform vehicle safety checks.
- LEVEL 2 DRIVING INSTRUCTOR/DRIVER: Minimum age 18. Qualified to teach/drive single and/or pair on public streets or roadways. Must be able to correct horse behavior problems, select suitable driving horses, maintain lateral and longitudinal alignment, and utilize appropriate safety equipment. Knowledge of bits, hoof care and common health problems is required.
- DRIVING INSTRUCTOR/DRIVER ASSISTANT CERTIFIER: Minimum age 21. Must be Level 2 for both Driving Instructor and Driver in both Single and Pairs and be recommended by both CHA Certifiers. An application process is required.
- DRIVING INSTRUCTOR/DRIVER CERTIFIER: Minimum age 25. Qualified to conduct CHA Driving Instructor/Driver certification clinics and certify Driving Instructors and Drivers in cooperation with another CHA Driving Instructor/Driver certifier. Must complete an apprenticeship.
Skills Workshops (SKW)
CHA Skills Workshops are single-day or multi-day events, covering:
- Any topic covered in any of the CHA Certification Programs, or
- How to teach any topic covered in any CHA Certification Program.
- Pre-certification workshops for EWI/EFM, etc. must be done by a CHA Certifier.
All topics taught in CHA Skills Workshops must be of a nature that is generally covered in current CHA Certification Programs. Topics such as starting colts, round pen reasoning or specific performance level disciplines cannot be covered under the auspices of CHA, since CHA does not have certifications to support these techniques.
All advertisements for CHA Skills Workshops should include the content being covered in the workshop and must also include the level at which the workshop is being taught.
CHA Skills Workshops may be taught by one or more CHA Certified Instructors with a current certification at the level in which they are certified for the topics to be covered during the workshop. The instructor must receive prior approval from the CHA Office to staff a skills workshop. This approval will be part of the workshop application process.
CHA Skills Workshops may be conducted at any suitable Program Member facility.
CHA Skills Workshops are approved and promoted by CHA and completion certificates for participants are provided. However, no certification is attainable as these are educational opportunities only.
Contact the CHA Office for an application to host to be approved as a host site: office@CHAinstructors.com.