I’ve had several recent inquiries regarding whether or not to get certified, so I decided to share my thoughts. The questions came from people with tons of experience with horses, and teaching both able-bodied and disabled riders, who are wondering if they should get certified.
Their concerns include:
- Is it legal to teach therapeutic riding without a certification?
- Is it worth the time and money to get certified, if I already have all this experience?
- Is it worth starting this new endeavor later in life, when I’m so busy and haven’t been through testing in so long?
These are all very valid questions, and these are my thoughts about them. Remember, I’m not a PATH spokesperson, these are just some thoughts based on my observations. If you have additional insight please leave a comment!
1. Is it legal to teach therapeutic riding without a certification?
- It is not illegal to teach without a certification. Lots of barns teach riders with disabilities without a certification. We have met lots of them at open shows such as Special Olympics. These can be great programs.
2. Is it worth the time and money to get certified, if I already have all this experience?
Well, let me tell you the benefits:
- You’ll gain a more thorough knowledge of disabilities, adaptations, and teaching techniques
- You’ll be given the tools for your own continued education
- Being certified adds a level of professionalism and legitimacy to offer your clients that comes with having been certified through an international organization to their standards.
- The safety and teaching methods you learn will make you a better teacher for your regular recreational riders as well.
- The certification could widen the demographics of students you could teach.
- You’ll learn safer teaching methods to the extreme.
- The uncertified teachers/centers I have seen at open shows I have also seen do some pretty (scarily) unsafe things, simply because they didn’t know any better. There are lots of additional safety factors to working with riders with disabilities that you probably have thought of unless you’ve been trained and mentored.
3. Is it worth starting this new endeavor later in life, when I’m so busy and haven’t been through testing in so long?
- I understand your nervousness, I was super nervous! Whatever age you are it’s learning a new skill and getting tested, and that can be hard.
- Having so much experience with horses and teaching means you have a head start because you will already be comfortable with much of the requirements.
- Having so much experience also means learning to teach to PATH Intl standards may be difficult, and you will have to adapt. But learning to teach the PATH way is very important because it’s the safest way, it follows logical progressions in teaching skills, and sets a great foundation. After you get certified you can modify your teaching style as long as it’s safe, but for PATH certification you need to do it their way – and all for good reasons: for safety and standardized practice across the nation.
- If you can’t afford the time/money to get certified, I would recommend at least attending a workshop as an auditor, or buying the certification reading materials from PATH Intl. (such as the standards manual and the teacher’s manual). I really stress this for safety’s sake, if you are going to be working with riders with disabilities.
Ultimately, it’s a decision you have to make for yourself. I think the most valuable thing to getting certified is the safety awareness. Hopefully these thoughts help you make the decision that’s right for you!
Best of luck in your teaching journey!
Note: This is not professional advice, this is a blog. I am not liable for what you do with or how you use this information. The activities explained in this blog may not be fit for every rider, riding instructor, or riding center depending on their current condition and resources. Use your best personal judgement!