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  1. #1
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    Default American Riding Instructors Association

    Is it worth getting a instructor's certificate through this organization? I know nothing about them, but I want to get my certification from somewhere. I believe it lowers my farm insurance if I have it too.

    thanks for any input!



  2. #2
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    Default

    Hmm, not sure if old discussions on ARIA are still archived, but might be worth a search. Depending on your perspective, opinions are mixed.

    I am ARIA certified in dressage and eventing, and found it a very useful process to go through as I was phasing out my desk job and starting to teach and train full time. Before you arrive for the testing, you are sent 20 essay questions to answer at home, and situations in them helped me think through things I had not yet experienced, but was bound to sooner or later. Questions about handling parents teaching from the rail, or things to discuss before helping someone horsehunt, for instance.

    The process of making a 20 minute video was thought provoking, too, even before getting feedback from the person who viewed and graded it. Really makes you think through an appropriate lesson plan and how to execute it in that time frame!

    Though I have gotten some inquiries from the website, I mostly teach people who already have their own horses, so I have referred on most of the calls I've gotten so far. Now that the footing is in the ring and I have a couple great schoolhorses I'll appreciate the referrals more.

    The insurance discount is a good thing too, and the symposium was very interesting with access to helpful experts the two years I went. Not sure the symposium has happepned the past year or two though, but it has had people like George morris, Denny Emerson, and Mike Page as reulars, and various years Jane Savoie, and I think Jack LeGoff among others have been keynote speakers.

    People who have known local instructors calling themselves ARIA certified have sometimes been skeptical of ARIA on COTH. I have always wondered if that is because to pass the level I certification you don't need a video, you don't need as good scores on teh tests, and in ARIA-speak it makes you certified as an assistant instructor. People do seem to earn that certification then call themselves "ARIA certified" (which I guess they are, to be fair, but not to the same standard as Level II and III instructors...)

    Anyhow. Hope that helps, and good luck! I have found it a very useful organization to be involved with, if in different ways than I expected when I signed up for their testing.



  3. #3
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    Default

    Dang, Jeanette/ponygyrl, how the heck have you been? Long time no see/hear.

    Any more trips to Rolex and Lexus test rides??



  4. #4
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    Default

    Knowing where and how it started, and following it through the years, except for the great sales talk they have given the insurance industry, their certification is barely worth the paper.

    Compared to BHSAI. BHSI, USEA, or USDF certification, there isn't any comparison.

    As far as the speakers at their annual meeting. They speak because they are paid. I doubt any of them have truly examined the criteria.

    But, if you feel the need to be "certified" have at it.



  5. #5
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    Default Interesting

    Hi,
    I actually went through the certification in 1995....years after becoming a certified trainer and instructor in Europe. Well, I do not agree with merrygoround, she probably never took the test. The tests are not very easy, especially at the advanced level, because there's no time to think. You have to know your stuff - or at least the stuff the ARIA thinks you need to know. The only problem is that with the ARIA that you become a professional, you learn on your own, you teach for years - and then you become certified. That's kind of backwards. Also, there's no riding or teaching demonstration involved - except for a videotape, which can theoretically be "faked". But at least this certification is something. www.prairiepinesfarm.com

    I also attended USDF "pre-certification" clinics as well. I found it kind of ridiculous when people with much less experience and knowledge were trying to "teach" me and criticize what I was doing. Then they told me to attend other clinics 1000's of miles away and spend all sorts of money.... They are not a real serious group either.

    www.prairiepinesfarm.com



  6. #6
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    Sep. 8, 2002
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    Default

    I am ARIA certified and have attended several USDF instructor workshops as well. In talking with people, I have noticed those who don't think highly of either certification have not gone through the process -- they are basing their opinion on others who have gone through it, instead of from first-hand experience.

    Back to the OP -- ARIA is a worthwhile program. It is much more broad-based than the USDF program. It seeks to support riding instructors as professional business people, and gears the magazine and symposium to that much more than the USDF program does. The USDF program is geared more towards having everyone teach from the same knowledge base and with a similar teaching style, ARIA assumes the horse side of your professional development is on your own agenda, and aims to support you in the parts of the job you don't think about when you take your horse hobby pro -- things like keeping lessons fresh, how much insurance do you need, jugging demanding clients and maintaining balance between your professional life and your personal life.

    Certification is like getting a B.S. degree -- it gets you a job, but to excel in that job you must continue professional development. Most dressage students are looking for a more sophisticated instructor, one that regularly continues to develop themselves after they get the certification paper. I think this is where ARIA certification gets a bad wrap, not because the certification is poor, but because the dressage client base is more sophisticated than the general equine client base.

    I got certified when I was working at a barn with multiple instructors. I needed it for first-time students -- it tells those students you care enough about what you are doing to "put it to the test."

    For the money, I get a lot out of my ARIA certificate. I attend USDF workshops when they are in the area for professional development, but don't see enough potential return on my investment to pursue the certification.
    _________________________
    www.equichic.net



  7. #7
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    Thumbs down

    Quote Originally Posted by Ange View Post
    In talking with people, I have noticed those who don't think highly of either certification have not gone through the process -- they are basing their opinion on others who have gone through it, instead of from first-hand experience.
    That's a bit presumptuous of you, isn't it? Please don't ASSume that everyone relies on secondhand information to formulate an opinion. I'm one of those who doesn't think much of either program, and have been witness to both the certification process (from attending USDF instructor pre-certification clinics), and watching instructors certified from both entities perform. Agree with szipi and merrygoround that, for the most part, both are,.......................lacking. Severely lacking. Especially the ARIA - how can you certify someone as an instructor if you never see them ride or teach? What, exactly, are you certifying them for? What a farce! That's like handing someone a 70% score on a ride you've only seen and judged on video! What utter, utter nonsense. No wonder the standard of instruction in this country is what it is.

    Sorry if this sounds harsh, but this is my biggest pet peeve. Not only do we have incompetent instructors out there; now, it appears that we are (at least, through one entity) certifying them, without ever having witnessed them actually riding or teaching! WTF?!?!? Yeah, let's just give the newbies to the sport, that many more marginal instructors to wade through before finding someone who actually knows what they're doing. No offense to those certified by either entity, either. I know there are some good USDF and ARIA certified instructors out there, but with a certification that's based on an essay and a video? And I'm supposed to take them seriously and accord them the same respect as someone like me, who's been riding for 30 years and teaching for 20? And turned out numerous competent riders and well trained horses? Sorry - can't.
    In loving memory of Laura Jahnke.
    A life lived by example, done too soon.
    www.caringbridge.org/page/laurajahnke/



  8. #8
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    Nov. 3, 2006
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by merrygoround View Post
    But, if you feel the need to be "certified" have at it.

    I agree with merrygoround. I don't put a lot of stock in "instructor certification", but some people like to say they are "certified", whether "certified" really means anything significant or not.

    Instructor certification also seems to be something for people who are "new" to it. Which means the very best, long time most experienced trainers and instructors are not certified. Imo, this takes credibility away from the certification process, when the best instructors are so established they don't bother and are uncertified, and most of the certified instructors are newbies.

    "Grandfathering" might help with this credibility issue, but that also opens the door for a lot of politics.



  9. #9
    AckAck Guest

    Default

    As a newbie instructor (been teaching for about a year, riding for four years, working with horses on the ground at the track and on farms for 10 years), I don't think it is fair to assume that a less-experienced teacher is necessarily a bad teacher and therefore unworthy of "certification"...

    I've been thinking about certification lately too... have been interested in the USDF workshops because, well, I teach dressage and wish to learn more (also interested in the BHS stable management), but there would be some advantages to having an ARIA certificate ... especially when dealing with the parents of children new to riding.

    The question is, who are you getting the certification for? For yourself - to learn, to get lower insurance, to give a measure of confidence to parents of students? Or for "others", to prove that you are somehow worthy or superior as an instructor? For bragging rights? [This is the royal "you" here; I'm not singling anyone out].

    I may go ahead and do the ARIA thing, but am I going to go around telling instructors and trainers more experienced than myself that I am "certified" ? Heck no! At the same time, fear of losing credibility among ones peers shouldn't stop one from certification.



  10. #10
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    Default

    I think that more of the experienced trainers in this country are becoming certified. There are still a lot who aren't, but I don't think it's only newbies anymore. I think some pros just like doing it, like adding another degree to your resume when you're in college (for some people, that is).

    It's just something I've begun to notice. I was surprised at some of the people now involved in the USDF program. I was also surprised to see a recent series resulted in hardly any associate instructors. So maybe the program is improving. Not sure, since I haven't been to anything since the 90s, when the program first started. Hmmm...maybe I should at least audit.

    Ah, I do miss the early days with Vi Hopkins and Major Lindgren. It really was a different time.



  11. #11
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by szipi View Post
    Hi,
    I also attended USDF "pre-certification" clinics as well. I found it kind of ridiculous when people with much less experience and knowledge were trying to "teach" me and criticize what I was doing.
    I was just thinking about this statement. I wanted to tell people something I learned at an instructor's workshop a loooong time ago. I knew a woman who rode at the upper levels and would come to these events and be a guinea pig for other instructor's so they could learn. She came did exactly what they asked her to do, and they could see if it worked and if what they were teaching was accurate and understandable. She knew it was not her job to do everything she knew, but rather to help them learn by doing what they asked and then letting the person in charge (typically Maj Lindgren) be the one to teach the instructor a better way of teaching.

    In the pre-certs it's the same thing. You are there to learn from the staff organizing the pre-cert, NOT the instructor's. They are there to learn how to teach and what to teach from THEM. Not from the person on the horse. The instructors attending and being a guinea pig need to put their egos on the shelf and be there for the other instructors. Not the other way around. I think when you gain that perspective, you can help the other people. Your help in instructing, and what you've paid to learn, comes from the person on the side who is there to teach you how to be a better instructor. You're not there to learn to ride better from the other instructors.

    I think this is a major problem with the program. People come thinking that it's all about them and that they are competing with the other instructors. That's not the right perspective to have, and not one that will help you learn (at least learn what the USDF program wants).

    I'm so glad I met that person, and that I was able to do the earlier and much larger instructor's workshops. They really did help promote a better understanding and had some truly humble people teach other up and coming instructors what it meant to help others along the way.

    Just a thought for all those thinking of participating or ever becoming a guinea pig for one of the programs. Please do so. It's very helpful. Even if some of the people act like DQs, know that you're doing it to better the sport and instruction in the U.S. And your participation will be appreciated in the long run!



  12. #12
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    Oct. 31, 2001
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    Cool

    Well, what if the person doing the instructing in the pre-cert clinic is.....,well, incompetent? And focuses on stupid things? Like, telling the guinea pig rider that her polo wraps needed to have tape put over the velcro, so that she could be sure her wraps wouldn't come off during the ride? Or, doesn't critique the instructor candidate on her teaching technique until after her session is over, rather than giving her a chance to correct it? Or focuses on the negative, fast-paced, hurly-burly aspect of the certification process, rather than what you need to know to pass it?

    If I, like you, had had the opportunity to clinic with competent instructors (as in "the old days"), I'd probably feel differently about it. But spending $250 for probably one hour of practice teaching, out of two hot, boring days of clinic under someone with a skewed focus, doesn't sound like a productive way to prepare for anything. And since that someone is approved by the certifying agency, what does that say about the credibility of the certification? Not much, IMO.
    In loving memory of Laura Jahnke.
    A life lived by example, done too soon.
    www.caringbridge.org/page/laurajahnke/



  13. #13
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    Default

    I never said the program was great and didn't have a lot of issues (with the lack of real instructor training in HOW to teach better), I was saying that if you're the guinea pig, be the guinea pig. Don't argue with the instructor wannabe. Let them make their mistakes and let the USDF staff catch it. If they can't, then bring that up to the staff. In pre-certs the student is allowed to talk with the USDF staff/trainer. So you can say something at the end. But during the lesson don't worry that the person knows less than you. Do what they ask (and don't be snarky), and let them see what happens when you do what they've said. Let them LEARN by teaching and you being a helpful guinea pig (er, victim? ).

    I really think that the old workshops were much more helpful. Nowadays the focus does seem to be solely on getting certified, rather than on improving the instructors and letting them go on to the certification path once they feel they've learned enough. Or they can also just improve their teaching skills and not feel that they have to go and learn all the other persnickerty things (we all know how this goes when traines are evaluators--and you have to please each of them and avoid their pet peeves) to pass the tests.



  14. #14
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by szipi View Post
    Hi,
    I actually went through the certification in 1995....years after becoming a certified trainer and instructor in Europe. Well, I do not agree with merrygoround, she probably never took the test. The tests are not very easy, especially at the advanced level, because there's no time to think. You have to know your stuff - or at least the stuff the ARIA thinks you need to know. The only problem is that with the ARIA that you become a professional, you learn on your own, you teach for years - and then you become certified. That's kind of backwards. Also, there's no riding or teaching demonstration involved - except for a videotape, which can theoretically be "faked". But at least this certification is something. www.prairiepinesfarm.com

    I also attended USDF "pre-certification" clinics as well. I found it kind of ridiculous when people with much less experience and knowledge were trying to "teach" me and criticize what I was doing. Then they told me to attend other clinics 1000's of miles away and spend all sorts of money.... They are not a real serious group either.

    www.prairiepinesfarm.com
    At least the stuff ARIA thinks you should know?? To my knowledge everyone out there doing the workshops, the pre-cert, and thecertification have tremendous mileage and excellent credentials.



  15. #15
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    Jan. 29, 2000
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    Default

    I was "certified" with ARIA, and maintained it for a number of years. I am of two minds regarding ARIA certification -- on one hand, the hype about lowering your insurance occurs only if you have a gross income of $25,000/yr from teaching (otherwise there's no 15% discount) left a sour taste in my mouth... as I became certified before I hung my shingle out, and wanted instructor insurance before I took on that liability. Farm liability is NOT what is addressed, according to the agents. And if you decide to try going through a different agent, guess what... they all are agents for the one insurance company that sponsors ARIA, and then that company gets snitty because you tried to go through someone else.

    ARIA does NOT teach anyone how to teach riding. They are set up to certifiy that you are a professional business person in whatever you teach. That is, if you know enough information to pass the test, their interest is in not shafting the student on fees, and handling irate or nosey or obnoxious parents, and managing the safety aspect of teaching. They don't care whether you can post on the right diagonal, nor teach it... but do you have your student wear a helmet and heeled shoes, and charge a fair fee, and have safe tack and a calm horse. In its own right, this is important stuff.

    The third thing about ARIA is it is gear specifically for children student, NOT for adult students. I spoke with what's her name, the one who is head of it, because the rank you test for can change because you have 'teaching experience' in something other than riding. I taught adults at the community college -- EMT/Paramedic -- for 15 years, and have a masters in Adult Ed. Didn't count because I needed three years of teaching in an elementary school! I have no children students, and don't want any. But it didn't count with them.

    The newsletter they send out is good information. The people involved in writing in the magazine have good information. But overall, not worth the money nor the time to get certified. (Oh yeah... and the tests are not all that well written, either. I spent many years working on EMT/Paramedic item writing for state certification, and item analysis. I know good questions and I know bad ones.)

    Knowing what I know now... not a chance.



  16. #16
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    Default

    The comment on only teaching adults and not kids made me think of something else. I really, really want to know why instructors for dressage (specifically) are asked to do group lessons. I have taught for a looooong time, and I've never taught a group dressage lesson. Oh, other types of lessons, but not specifically dressage. So I've always wondered why that is part of the criteria in this day and age. Does anyone even bother to try and teach groups? The most I've taught (in forever--not when I was younger) is now a group of three people. I think that privates and semi-private lessons (two people) are the only way to accomplish enough for people to get their money's worth.

    Anyone else have thoughts on this? I think group lessons are fun, and you can do quadrilles, etc., but not to really get focused on the fundamentals, or the more subtle aspects of dressage.



  17. #17
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    Mar. 1, 2005
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    Default Competent people?

    Quote Originally Posted by merrygoround View Post
    At least the stuff ARIA thinks you should know?? To my knowledge everyone out there doing the workshops, the pre-cert, and thecertification have tremendous mileage and excellent credentials.

    I understand that there are some competent people among the USDF certification staff. The ones I have "trained" with were totally incompetent. Very few people in the USDF truly know how to really train horses, especially young horses. What they practice is far, far from the true, classical basics. What they forget is "dressage" means "training" and not just plugging around in circles in a tiny enclosed space. The people who run it are true Dressage Queens.

    I can tell you endless stories, but the most prominent was when they put me on an OTTB (5 years-old, 6 months off the track), in an ill-fitting saddle. Never mind that the horses brought there were supposed to be at least 2nd level. Also, when I checked the horses's teeth, they have never been done and even had a wolf tooth. Add to the picture that I am 6'5" and about #220. The horse worked much better under me that the owner - because I actually know how to re-train ex racehorses. The instructor even acknowledged it - that the horse worked very well, but said: " Now, we have to teach you how to sit deep in the saddle and drive more with your legs". What can you say to idiots like this one? I just said that "if you bring me a 2nd level horse, I may just be able to do that". So they put me on a 14H, 17 YO arabian mare, who was just brough in from the pasture and warned me that "be careful, she will not take the leg!". That's when I had it with that group.

    Other people may have different experiences, based on the clinician and the quality of the horses that participated. However, there should be standards not just for the aspiring instructors, but the USDF clinicians and examiners as well.



  18. #18
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    Jan. 25, 2005
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    Default

    Michael Poulin
    Lilo Fore
    Lendon Gray
    Cindy Sydnor
    Maryal Barnett
    Gerhard Politz
    Kathy Connelly
    Debbie Bowman

    Which one is it again who is totally incompetent and has no credentials? I find that more than a little hard to believe. Perhaps the truth hurts to hear and it's easier to find fault with others.



  19. #19
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    Talking

    Szipi--Oh My gosh-- a wolf tooth.

    Don't come near my barn or ride any of my horses. They may have wolf teeth.

    Come on get real-Lendon Grey can't train? Mike Poulin can't train? Do you think they came outta the womb in tall black boots, complete with spurs, and never wore anything but white breeches?



  20. #20
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ElizaS View Post
    Michael Poulin
    Lilo Fore
    Lendon Gray
    Cindy Sydnor
    Maryal Barnett
    Gerhard Politz
    Kathy Connelly
    Debbie Bowman

    Which one is it again who is totally incompetent and has no credentials? I find that more than a little hard to believe. Perhaps the truth hurts to hear and it's easier to find fault with others.
    There is one on that list that is,................questionable.
    In loving memory of Laura Jahnke.
    A life lived by example, done too soon.
    www.caringbridge.org/page/laurajahnke/



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