December 18, 2017

How to Choose A Riding Program

How to Choose A Riding Program

By Cheryl Rohnke Kronsberg, CHA Master Instructor

Take a moment and imagine yourself riding a horse. What do you see? Are you wearing jeans, cowboy boots and a 10 gallon hat? Or perhaps skin tight breeches, shiny, black knee-high boots and a black velvet helmet. Maybe you are jumping over a log or creek while galloping across country. Possibly, you are chasing a cow while swinging the rope that will soon catch him. Or just perhaps, jogging down a shady tree-lined trail along with some friends. All these things and more are encompassed in the equestrian world. You can take your place in that world with a little research, planning and attention to detail. Just follow these steps and you will be well on your way.

First, remember the picture you had in your head. If that is your goal, you need to find a place that can help you reach that goal.  Riding facilities can range from a small barn behind someone’s house to Olympic-sized facilities covering hundreds (or thousands) of acres. Some places offer only one type of riding, while others have many styles available for you to try.  Some instructors are certified while others aren’t. Horses are provided at some ranches. At others you must bring your own. And there is everything in between. How is a “Greenhorn” supposed to choose?  Here are some important things to consider..

Instructor Certification.  Under the law, anyone may call themselves a riding instructor. There are no requirements for education, training, experience, insurance or testing. Anyone can take your money, put you (or your child) on a 1000 lb. animal and “teach” you to ride, but you have to go to school for 2 years to cut someone’s hair.  Even servers in restaurants must often undergo “Safe Server” training before they can put your plate on the table. But riding instructors? Nothing. Zip. Nada.  Riding Instructor Certification is voluntary and varied. Some programs require rigorous on-site testing while others only require paying a fee and passing a take-home test. If the instructor you are researching is certified, find out what the requirements were and what level they attained. Some instructors will teach well beyond their certification level because no one bothered to ask.  ASK! Most certification programs have web sites that will explain their testing process and what instructors are qualified to teach for each level of certification. Do your research. Also, make sure the instructor is actually certified with the group they are claiming to be and that the certification is current. If your instructor is not certified, ask about their experience and education. Make sure they teach riding and are not just horse trainers.

Article continues tomorrow…