The trainer I work with completed the program. I think she feels it was worthwhile. It's really nice to have the credential as a trainer being as there's no "standard" and pretty much any joe-schmoe can call themselves one. It was pricey to complete. The clinic isn't interactive, you just have to be present (& pay for it). You also have to get two recommendation letters of other professionals in your zone. You have to pay for the dictionary of a book they give you to complete their test (multiple choice). And I think you also have to pay to take the test, or recieve your certificate. Sure, it ends up being a $500-700 process, but then you can raise your training rates after? lol
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I know a trainer who received a grant from her zone to complete the program. I know Zones 1 and 2 at least have a grant specifically for people in the TCP. I also saw on the USHJA site that certification is now available online for $200. I really like the idea of the program, I just wish more trainers in my area were serious about it- there is only 1 certified trainer within an hour and a half drive from me and I am in a pretty horsey area!
I think it boils down to whether you agree with the philosophy that there ought to be a standard level of qualification for offering riding instruction. Trainers are considered to be professionals--through the TCP program, certification 'professionalizes' and standardizes the approaches used. Ideally, the program will offer established professionals an avenue to engage in what other professions call "continuing education and professional development," and offers new trainers a standard of education. How well the entire program works will be determined by the number and level of those who participate in it.
I got my certification last year, and though I can't say it has changed anything for me, I have now twice made referrals based on the certification to people seeking riding instruction in areas I was not familiar with--I know enough about the program to have confidence that someone with Trainer Certification qualifications a) has liability insurance, and b) passed the exam, which is fairly comprehensive in scope, and at least assures that someone who has passed it was (even if only for the duration of the open book test) exposed to widely accepted riding theory of the American Forward Riding System and safe practices, and has three peer recommendations on file with USHJA.
That's a start--and I'm glad I have mine-it's a qualification I can take with me to a new area, an assurance that I do have a serious grounding in the sport which I can offer my clients and that I've pledged to go about my business in an ethical way that doesn't compromise the welfare of the horse. Not that I think this is enough to ensure that Certified Trainers will all live up to this ideal, but at some stage they had to acknowledge it, and that's a huge step forward from everything being the wild, wild west.
As far as the clinics go, I imagine that depends on the organizers, what their goals are, whether they gear it toward trainers or the riders, or both, and what extra discussions and seminars are planned to be held.
If you look at the USHJA's schedule of upcoming clinics, you will notice that Bernie Traurig will be conducting three of the upcoming TCP clinics, including two within a month of each other in Zone 2...I can't speak for the others, but I am managing the one hosted by the LIPHA in January, and it's our goal to provide TCP applicants with a solid feel of Bernie's systematic approach to both novice and advanced levels of H/J/and Eq. Round table discussions are part of every TCP clinic, and we will also offer additional seminarsl; in other words, we plan to offer something much more than just a riding clinic that you watch.
Even if you don't follow through with the other requirements of the program, there is no reason not to go ahead and audit a TCP clinic just to enhance your own depth of knowledge, and by doing so, help you reflect on your own approach to teaching.
What was the format?
Two days of watching clinicians teach. The emphasis of the clinic is on how to teach different levels of horses and riders so we had a green horse section, beginner rider, advanced rider, professional rider, jumper horse and hunter horse sections.
Is it interactive or do you just watch and listen/learn? If interactive, is the interaction mandatory or voluntary?
There were "roundtable" discussions. I thoroughly enjoyed listening and being a part of a decent-sized group of new and old professionals. Topics ranged from how to train horses to how to ethically run a business to how to manage clients.
What level of trainers/riders was it geared toward?
There was something for everyone. I had the opportunity to go to a TCP clinic with Linda Allen and Geoff Teall; they both admitted to learning new things from the other as they watched the other teach.
Did you feel it was worthwhile?
Yes. It was nice to attend a clinic that was geared towards instructors and trainers (as opposed to towards amateurs and juniors). I also met some really great professionals.
What was your favorite part?
Watching and focusing on different teaching styles. Geoff Teall was a blast to watch and Linda Allen always has such great exercises to teach horses and riders. I also really enjoyed the conversations over lunch.
What was your least favorite part?
Having to sit for two days!
I think it's important for professionals to support this program even though it is in it's infancy. I applied for and received a scholarship to the clinic which covered my clinic expenses. It cut the cost of the overall program dramatically and I was very grateful for it.
I haven't heard anyone who regrets going to the clinic. So go!
I would like to at least audit one of these but none are even semi close to me so adding the cost of a hotel and gas to the cost of the clinic makes it pretty expensive!
Doing research for the certification process, I found out that the format of things has changed a bit over the years. I think most people know you can attend a symposium or a clinic for the requirement, but you can also watch online videos too.
I don't know how I feel about that. But I believe it was done to help those in areas where the Symposiums or Clinics do not travel to have a more affordable way to get their certification.
Hunters, Jumpers, & Welsh Ponies All I pay my psychiatrist is the cost of feed and hay, and he'll listen to me any day. ~Author Unknown