Updated 5/2023 in blue.
I just finished renewing my PATH Intl. CTRI certification and wanted to share some tips, in case you have to do it soon too (which I suspect you do, because a bunch of us transitioned 2 years ago)! If you are not PATH certified, you probably don’t need to read this article, but thanks for following my blog and I hope the next post will be more interesting 🙂
For a little background, recently PATH Intl. updated their entry level certification process to meet standards set by the National Council of Certifying Agencies. The certification phased from “Registered Instructor” to “CTRI” (Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor) and the process changed too (I’m working on a big update to this site with a bunch of info about the new CTRI process, but I have limited time…hopefully soon!). They also slightly changed the way you maintain your certification once you’ve certified or transitioned your previous certification to the new one. It’s basically the same as it used to be, except now they ask you to do it every 2 years instead of 1, so all the numbers of hours/CEs have doubled.
It may seem overwhelming to begin with, but if you have been keeping up in your career (instructing, taking riding lessons, attending conferences, etc.) then you should have no problem. If you’ve been sitting at home like I have for 2 years, it still shouldn’t be that hard, especially if you’ve made sure to attend some webinars or online conferences and remember most of what you knew about instructing. Either way, here are some tips for you!
The Maintenance Process
When it’s been about 2 years and time to maintain your certification, PATH Intl. will send you an email with all you need to do and the most up-to-date links. It’s really nice that you don’t have to remember when to do it yourself!
Here is my summary of the things you will need to do:
- Fill out the maintenance form – here is 2021’s CTRI Maintenance Form
- Decide & Pay/have paid your membership (you don’t have to be a member, and you can change membership level if you want)
- Pay the maintenance fee (as of 2021, it’s $75 for members or $95 for nonmembers) – TIP: If your member price doesn’t show up when you go to add it to your cart, first make sure you are logged in to your account.
- Review the PATH Intl. Standards
- Review the PATH Intl. Code of Ethics
- Have a current First Aid and CPR certification for Adults and Children (online courses accepted)
- Pass the CTRI maintenance module (they will give you a link and password in the email)
- Complete 20 hours Continuing Education (aka “CE”) within the past 2 years (12 disability, 4 core, 4 general) – here is PATH’s website for Continuing Education (pathintl.org) info
Here is some info and tips for the last 3 items because they are the biggest ones!
Tips for Continued Education (CE)
- Within the past 2 years you need at least:
- 12 hours of Disability Education (DE)
- 4 hours of Core Requirements (CR) – which if you are an instructor
would be riding lessons but there are alternatives listed at the link belowmust be related to riding, equine welfare, management and instructing, etc.
- 4 hours of General Continuing Education (CE)
- You can use a lot of different things for hours – webinars, conferences, horse fairs, lessons, mentoring, etc. To know what’s accepted and not, check out the link above to PATH’s CE page.
- I recommend working on this throughout the two years so you don’t have to squeeze it all in right before renewing. This could look like doing a webinar every month, or planning to go to a big conference so you can get most of your hours there.
- If you go to a conference, make sure to include some DEs because that’s the majority of hours you need (instead of only doing what sounds most interesting and later realizing you don’t have enough DE hours so you have to pay for a bunch of additional webinars to get them).
If you can’t ride for your CR hours, there are some alternatives that are accepted as listed on the CE website above: receiving coaching from a PATH Intl Certified Professional, attend a formal education event for instructions, or Mentor an IT. There have also been conference sessions designated as CR hours, which is what I used since this past year I’ve been too nauseous to unwell from pregnancy and recovery to ride. When I asked about substitutions, I was also told that we can use online education and even some free resources such as My Horse University’s horsemanship education.CR hours no longer need to be riding lessons, as the CTRI doesn’t require you to ride to get certified. Now it is any type of continued education toward your specific cetification – for the CTRI that includes riding lessons, equine welfare/management/behavior/skills, coaching and receiving coaching, and teaching techniques.
- Keep track of your CE hours as you do them! Or you’ll spend a bunch of time looking them up later to fill out the form. Look at the Maintenance Form (link above) to know what to keep track of.
Tips for the Maintenance Questionnaire/Exam
- This is an online “test”. You need to get 18 out of 25 questions right.
- It is basically a multiple choice test, but it’s not timed and it’s open book.
- It’s not timed, so you can go back and work on it again later! There is an option to star questions you are unsure about so you can return to work on them later.
- It’s open book, so you can have the standards open in another tab or on your desk, as well as any other books.
- It is meant to be a review, not a super hard test, so don’t freak out! Most things you will already know and if you don’t then you can look them up and learn them.
- In 2021, I think they were the same questions as I had last time…or at least very similar. In 2023 they were very familiar as well.
- Types of questions includes therapeutic riding questions (like safety protocols for stirrups, gates, etc.), horse knowledge questions (like signs of health, illness, lameness, etc.), and PATH guidelines (such as for visitors, written vs. implemented, safety, etc.).
- For PATH Standards questions, it’s easy to just have the PDF open in another tab then search it for the right answer (if you don’t already know it).
- I didn’t actually need to look in any other books than the Standards, but if you want recommendations, I think the having the Instructor Education Guide and The Comprehensive Guide to Equine-Assisted Activities and Therapies on hand would be best.
- Pay close attention to wording – such as “first” and “written” vs. “implemented”.
- Some questions are super easy, some are weirdly worded (I wasn’t sure about the answers due to wording for 2 of them, and I got 1 wrong).
- For some questions it will seem that all the answers are correct, but only one is most correct/complete, as the others tend to have something mission.
- If you don’t know the answer or get stuck on one, it’s ok to star it and come back later to research it! “Star it” means you click the star by the question and it will show up in the “summary” section next to the question number so you can see how many stars you have marked and then quickly jump back to that question to work on it.
- If you click somewhere on the answers by accident or to trying to move around, it will select that answer as your answer, SO only click the page when you are answering a question, and double check your answers in case you accidentally changed one!
- In my opinion, if you are sure you’ve got 18+ answers correct, just submit it instead of wringing your hands about 2 questions you’re not sure about. I just don’t have the time, and they don’t expect perfect!
- The test is graded immediately, so you get your results right away. There is something like “see test questions” to click to see exactly which questions you got wrong, but they don’t tell you the right answer.
- If you are still worried about the test, I’d recommend studying the following topics:
- Lesson plan order
- Correctly written goals and objectives (see my post here)
- Terminology (posterior vs anterior pelvic tilt, etc.)
- Standards for Certification and Accreditation (if you’re a member, it’s in your “my downloads” section of the portal profile)
- Correct placement & fit of tack
- Postural corrections of rider
- Safety standards (lesson, tack, footwear)
- Equine welfare
- Progress notes
- Horse health (I had only 1 question on this)
- At the risk of overwhelming you with too much info, this is what me taking the test looked like: 1) make sure books and standards I might need are nearby or up on the computer, 2) start the test, 3) first question: I know it, 4) second question: look up the definition, answer it, 5) third question, look it up in the standards using a keyword I think will work, find it, answer it, 6) and so on… in other words, it feels more like doing homework than taking a “no notes, no talking” test.
Tips for the Adult and Child CPR/First Aid/AED Certification
- Both in-person and online versions are accepted.
- You may be able to find someone who offers a shortened in-person version for people who are already certified and don’t want to take another 5+ hours class – someone in our town did this as a quick review and quiz and it was a great alternative.
- In-person versions are nice because you get hands on training, can ask questions and get feedback, and are the typical classroom lecture/discussion style for those who are used to learning that way.
- Online versions are nice because it’s shorter, cheaper, you can spread it out over several days, and it’s a new way to learn old material which may make it more interesting for you or help you remember it better.
- This year (2021) I took the Red Cross’s Adult, Child and Baby First Aid/CPR/AED Online Certification (redcross.org) (I included baby because we have one, but you don’t need the baby certification for PATH Intl, just Adult and Child). I was wondering how well such hands-on skills could be taught through a computer, but I was impressed! They teach it through a series of teachings and “missions”, which are like video games in which the narrator/teacher guides you through the process of handling the emergency. For example, you use the arrows to check the room for safety hazards, and use the mouse to put the hands in the right spot for CPR. You either complete each missions or retry it, so there is no failure. What I liked best about the class was being able to work through it over multiple days, which I felt helped me retain the material way better than when I’ve taken the in-person class and have to learn so much info in one day! I also felt like there was more repetition than in a hands on class – there are about 17 first aid scenarios and you have to go through the check-call-care response every. single. time. which gets old but it sure makes you learn it so well it’s automatic. I also liked that almost everything is taught through interactions in the “video game” instead of lecture/powerpoint style typical of classes. The only negative I found is not having the actual hands on practice of CPR on a mannikin model, but I was ok with this because I’d done it before and remembered what it was like while doing the online course – plus I’m not actively teaching right now. If I were actively teaching I think I’d do a mixed online/in-person class, to get the hands on practice.
- In 2023 I took the Red Cross’s online course again (this link) and it was totally different from the description above, I actually liked it less… It had a series of modules on the topics, and each module has a webpage you read through with paragraphs, blurbs, videos, interactive things to click, and the like for learning the information. Then you are immediately tested on the information and you must get most of it right to pass or you have to do it again. Some of the tests included videos of actors in situations then you had to choose how to respond. I felt like the way the information was presented was too scattered and catering to short attention spans, it was actually hard to focus and retain the info. I did not like being tested right after because it reminded me of school and memorizing to take a test and just forget it after. I also felt the real life videos as test questions were less helpful than the video-game style interactive scenarios of the previous version. However, the main (and big) pro to the recent version is that you can take a pre-assessment before the module and if you pass you can go straight to the test (or choose to review) – so if you remember a lot from your last training you can go through this class faster instead of having to go through everything again. Also like past years, you can work on the class as long as you need to, stopping and coming back later.
So there you go! I hope that was helpful to some of you. I’d love to hear your thoughts about the process and different First Aid/CPR/AED certification options too!
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! If you would like to contribute an activity or article, please contact me here, I would love to hear from you!