I’m neither for nor against riding instructor certification because after all these many years of limited certification in the U.S., I’m convinced that certification has little to do with becoming a first class riding instructor. But there are certain benefits to certification.
- Certification tells others that you have studied a prescribed plan of curriculum
- Certification tells people that you have probably done some work in safety
- Certification identifies which part of the industry you are connected with
- Certification shows that you were serious enough to make a commitment to you career path
- Certification also shows that you have passed a certain standard of examination
I will always encourage the young riding instructor candidate to “go” for certifications in as many areas as they can. The time is coming, that in order to be competitive in the teaching business, instructors will need to be certified…unless they have been around, proving themselves, as long as the mighty Oak.
But I believe we’re a little bit upside down with our certifications. Why? Well because it’s relatively easy to become certified at the lower level and significantly more difficult to become certified to teach the upper levels. This is the complete reverse of the way our school teachers are educated. Without a degree in education, I could teach at the college level because I’m an expert in my field. But should I want to work in the elementary grades at a public or private school- I would be relegated to being a class mother or perhaps a teacher’s helper. Why?
This is because our educational system, with all it’s bumps and warts, realizes that the proper development of youngsters in elementary school has a direct bearing on how they will absorb education at the higher levels. The elementary school teacher is responsible for starting the child in the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic. Without solid basics in these three areas a student will have difficulty going far in their education. The elementary school teacher is also responsible for teaching skills in socialization and teamwork. She helps to lay the foundation for our future “good citizens”. Consequently the education required to become an elementary school teacher is more stringent than to become a college instructor.
We should view teaching the basics to our beginning horsemen and women just as seriously as the educational system views teaching the basics to the elementary school students. By not giving our riders the correct, strong foundation in their horsemanship skills, instructors seriously limit the potential students have to become great horsemen and women. The instructor of beginners paves the way, making it possible for the instructors of the lofty higher levels to do their jobs. The upper level instructors would be lost without the work of the instructors of beginners. The instructors who teach beginners lay the foundations for Olympians. Even more important than that….the instructor who lays the solid foundation for the beginner, opens doors and makes it more likely that that person will succeed at and enjoy riding for a prolonged amount of time.
If you are an instructor of beginning horsemen and women, no matter what their age, take a moment to understand that you hold one of the most important positions in riding instruction. Even when your student has moved on to ride with advanced or specialty instructors, they will still be building on the foundation that the you helped to lay.
Personally I believe that terrific beginner instructors for horseback riding are undervalued, and rarely acknowledged but they hold a most important position in our industry.