Following several years of development, the U.S. Hunter Jumper Association has launched the new USHJA Instructor Credential program. The program has been designed to offer education for riding instructors in a manner that is more comprehensive and well-rounded than ever before with an extensive online education and a hands-on practicum.
“The instructor credential is an important program for the USHJA for a number of reasons,” said USHJA Executive Director Kevin Price. “First, it is continuing education for people who are teaching and providing education in our sport. Secondly, and probably just as important, is that it is creating a standardized process for people to become credentialed and prove their knowledge in the field that they are educating and teaching people in.”
The online coursework includes expanded content on the subjects of athlete wellness and safety, sports psychology, stable management, equine laws and ethics, marketing and branding, riding theory, and learning styles and teaching methodologies that preserve the American hunter/jumper forward riding system. Course delivery is comprised of reading material, videos, webinars and PowerPoint presentations.
Each course ends with a short quiz that requires a passing score of 80%. Quizzes may be taken as many times as needed to achieve a passing score, and there is no set timeframe for the completion of online courses.
“It takes a lot of our really good educational information and delivers it in an up-to-date fashion utilizing a learning management system,” USHJA Director of Education Lauren Klehm said.
After successfully completing all 10 online courses, candidates will be eligible to register for the in-person instructor credential workshop and examination where they will observe, learn, practice and collaborate on teaching and coaching techniques and methods. Three live workshop and examination sessions will be offered in 2023—East Coast, West Coast and central. Dates and locations have yet to be announced.
During the live examination, candidates will be tested on their teaching skills and provided individualized feedback. Examiners will score candidates using a standardized rubric that includes categories for safety, structure and organization, professional conduct and the candidate’s ability to detect and correct errors.
“Certainly, we’re always looking for safety first,” said Mimi Wroten, an approved examiner on the instructor credential steering committee. “We’re also looking for creativity, as well as a good sort of structure as far as how they present material to their students. We want to see how they work with things when things, like we all know, don’t go exactly as planned, and they should sort of be giving their students things to work for and goals to reach.”
The new program is an improvement upon the former USHJA instructor certification program, which “lacked the in-person component of making sure that you could teach,” USHJA President Mary Knowlton said. “We’ve seen in other programs—Emerging Athletes, the Horsemanship Quiz Challenge—that sometimes people are great on paper, but when they’re actually having to do a practicum, they don’t have the skill level that we want them to have. So, this is meant to, again, get people off to a great start and inspire them.”
Upon successful completion of all prerequisite online courses, the workshop and passing scores from two examiners during the live examination, candidates will be awarded the status of USHJA credentialed instructor. As the program rolls out in 2023, candidates will receive their results within 30 days of examination.
Registration for the USHJA instructor credential is now open for USHJA members above the outreach level who are 18 years of age or older. Candidates must show proof of experience teaching at least 40 hours of mounted and unmounted lessons.
To learn more about the USHJA Instructor Credential, visit ushja.org/instructorcredential.