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.
- 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.