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Becoming a riding instructor

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  • Becoming a riding instructor

    I rode many years ago and am trying to get back into the horse world. I would like to become a instructor. I started out as a hunter/jumper. Went on to become a 3 day event rider. My question is I live in Massachusetts. You have to become a licensed instructor. I was wondering if anyone has gone thru the process and was wondering if there is a study guide?I did 4H and pony club as a kid. Do you have to be a licensed instructor in other states?

  • #2
    I'm not in Massachusetts, but my first question is, are you currently riding, are you currently competing, and if so at what level?

    Generally when competition coaches enter the teaching market, they are active above the level they propose to teach at, sometimes maintaining that level while they teach, other times stepping down to focus on their students but having the credentials of a recent competition history (it can be hard for a coach with a successful lower level lesson program to take the kiddies to the short stirrups every weekend and also continue competing in the 3 foot 6, and generally the income paying clients rule the day). After a few years the coach can be quite far away from actually competing at their old level, and may not have a suitable horse anymore, but they are still actively riding and schooling and training lesson and client horses.

    So I think if you wanted to market yourself as a competition coach, you'd need recent competition experience to have local crediblity.

    On the other hand, you might not need competition experience to teach beginners lessons.

    However, you will need to have your own riding and fitness up to speed, so if you haven't been on a horse in a decade, you might want to start on that now. Get back into the horse world first, and then look for ways to be an instructor.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Thank you for the good advice. I'm going to be getting back into the horse world after my surgeries. I evented many years ago and I do need to brush up. My plans were to work with beginners.

      Comment


      • #4

        I would suggest then going back and taking some "returning rider" lessons at a barn that also has a beginners lesson program. Maybe pick a barn that has a good and large beginner program, but also some kids competing and jumping. Pay for your lessons to get back in the swing of things, and then if you wanted you could "shadow" the coaches, watch them teach, and maybe work your way into teaching there as an apprentice/ working student.

        I rode quite well as a teen/young adult, then took a break for 20 years, returned in my 40s. I found I still had balance, and could still sit a spook, but had lost a lot of my position and had to relearn things physically that I knew mentally, but my body wouldn't go there. I debated and postponed the idea of lessons for most of a decade, thinking that I already knew how to ride, but I also knew I needed support and guidance getting back into riding. And lessons were absolutely the best thing I could have done. I did have to suck up my ego and stop thinking about how good I used to be, and just listen to the instructor.

        Comment


        • #5
          I got my Massachusetts license many years ago, it was an easy test- very basic. Has zero to do with your ability to teach (I found it a bit pointless). But I had to have it in order to teach at a private school I was working for at the time. I've taught up and down the East Coast and to my knowledge Massachusetts is one of only two states that require a license to teach. The state does provide you with a "study book" when you apply to take the test.

          I second everyone else's comments on getting back in the groove with some returning rider lessons. Mainly just wanted to pipe in about the licensing. If you have any other questions feel free to PM me.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Bill Domey View Post
            I rode many years ago and am trying to get back into the horse world. I would like to become a instructor. I started out as a hunter/jumper. Went on to become a 3 day event rider. My question is I live in Massachusetts. You have to become a licensed instructor. I was wondering if anyone has gone thru the process and was wondering if there is a study guide?I did 4H and pony club as a kid. Do you have to be a licensed instructor in other states?
            Have you ever taught riding lessons?
            If not, why not go to some riding center and ask to audit with the instructor, eventually start teaching as an assistant instructor, before you decide to go on your own?

            There is more to teaching than just standing there telling someone how to do it, which you may already know.
            Safety, about suitable horses, how to handle lessons, scheduling, insurance, etc. etc.
            If you don't, you should catch up with that part of being an instructor also.

            Comment


            • #7
              I echo with others when I ask have you taught before? What do you bring to the table? I rode up to and trained horses from nothing to the prelim level in eventing and I dont teach lessons.

              I dont think many people are going to line up to take lessons from an adult rerider with not much experience/show experience in the past years. What do you bring to the table? Do you bring horses up? What do you bring to a rider?

              You state that you rode a bit when you were younger, but what did you do then? Win/place at the national level? Win/place at any big events? What level did you ride at? Did you bring your horses up yourself?

              Technically any Tom, Dick, or Harry can hang a shingle out and teach lessons. Do you have a facility, horses, insurance? Do you have any experience shopping for horses which you may do with your clients? Do you have any contacts in the show/horse world? Do you know how to deal with parents and kids? How to deal with bad matches between horse and rider? Dangerous horses?

              I guess what Im asking is why do you think you'll be able to make a successful business out of teaching riding lessons? The horse world has enough bad "trainers" who have loads of experience and a heck of a lot of bad "trainers" who have no business teaching lessons. Why do you think you qualify? Why do you think you should be a trainer?
              I am on my phone 90% of the time. Please ignore typos, misplaced lower case letters, and the random word butchered by autocowreck.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                I trained my own horse to the intermediate level in combined training. I did school several other people’s horses and did some teaching. I have ridden over the past few years. Not as much as I would have liked. Problem is finding a barn that has similar thoughts on riding and what students should learn. Many stables I have looked at seem to have the same thought process that the student is there just to learn riding. I believe a student needs to know basic horsemanship. They need to know how to groom, tack and anatomy of horse. Be able to tell when a horse is lame. What could be a possible cause of the lameness. These are the things I would teach. Also hard finding a stable to get refresher lessons. I want to be a good instructor not a bad one. There are enough of those. When I competed I had a few of those but fortunately had more better ones. Massachusetts doesn’t have a study guide anymore. Everyone I ask doesn’t seem to know what to study.

                Comment


                • #9
                  What is your experience as a teacher? I know several really good horsemen/woman that could not teach a person to make a ham sandwich. It IS what you know but FAR more importantly it's what you can CONVEY! Note that I've little experience as a equestrian instructor but many years as a flight instructor (in and out of the Navy). The ability to teach a "doing" art is not something that everybody has. If you do have it then you are more than half-way there. You need to get some time in the saddle so that you can demonstrate to students what they need to learn. It's a "see one, do one, teach one" process. You can get help in this from utube and all kinds of other places. But it's YOUR ability to prepare a curriculum, break it into lessons, and then teach the lesson that counts.

                  Good luck in your program.

                  G.
                  Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raa, Uma Paixo

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Originally posted by Guilherme View Post
                    What is your experience as a teacher? I know several really good horsemen/woman that could not teach a person to make a ham sandwich. It IS what you know but FAR more importantly it's what you can CONVEY! Note that I've little experience as a equestrian instructor but many years as a flight instructor (in and out of the Navy). The ability to teach a "doing" art is not something that everybody has. If you do have it then you are more than half-way there. You need to get some time in the saddle so that you can demonstrate to students what they need to learn. It's a "see one, do one, teach one" process. You can get help in this from utube and all kinds of other places. But it's YOUR ability to prepare a curriculum, break it into lessons, and then teach the lesson that counts.

                    Good luck in your program.

                    G.
                    I did a little teaching when I was riding. I worked on a ambulance for over 30 years as a paramedic. I also taught both Emt and Paramedic classes as well as being a field training officer for many years. I do agree with getting more saddle time. Will have to do that after my second surgery. I have created a curriculum designed for beginner riders. I want kids to learn care for the horse and how to ride. But most importantly to have fun. If they compete it’s not whether you win or lose but both you and the horse had fun.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Bill Domey View Post
                      I trained my own horse to the intermediate level in combined training. I did school several other people’s horses and did some teaching. I have ridden over the past few years. Not as much as I would have liked. Problem is finding a barn that has similar thoughts on riding and what students should learn. Many stables I have looked at seem to have the same thought process that the student is there just to learn riding. I believe a student needs to know basic horsemanship. They need to know how to groom, tack and anatomy of horse. Be able to tell when a horse is lame. What could be a possible cause of the lameness. These are the things I would teach. Also hard finding a stable to get refresher lessons. I want to be a good instructor not a bad one. There are enough of those. When I competed I had a few of those but fortunately had more better ones. Massachusetts doesn’t have a study guide anymore. Everyone I ask doesn’t seem to know what to study.
                      Try Pony Club, they teach what you want to teach.
                      Volunteer for them for a bit and see what you like of that program, then use them to organize your own program along theirs or on your own where you decide to teach.

                      No need to reinvent the wheel.
                      Along similar lines of thinking as you explain, their program is very good already.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I wouldn't use your paramedic experience as a selling point.

                        Honestly, unless you have your own barn I doubt you'll find someone to hire you as an instructor unless you can demonstrate that you can ride, and ride well. I don't disagree that it is possible to teach beginners the basic skills even if you're not a great rider; but there are lots of people already out there that could teach an 8 year old to post to the correct diagonal. A lot of that is just saddle time and good horses/ponies.

                        A good instructor is going to be able to move the kids from that point into really riding. It's unlikely that someone will hire you to do that unless you can do it yourself. As someone that started riding as an adult - no way would I hire a trainer that wasn't demonstrably a lot better than me already. What would make me believe that you could teach me to ride better than you can?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Have a look at the British Horse Society website, www.bhs.org.uk, which clearly sets out a structured approach to achieving internationally recognised professional qualifications and some can be done via distance learning. It also has plenty of educational resources available online. There is one recognised BHS training centre in the USA.

                          My thought is that the skill necessary to teach is vastly underestimated by most people. Just think back to your brilliant school teacher versus the worst.
                          "Good young horses are bred, but good advanced horses are trained" Sam Griffiths

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Willesdon View Post
                            My thought is that the skill necessary to teach is vastly underestimated by most people. Just think back to your brilliant school teacher versus the worst.
                            Agree 100%. But the teacher still needs to know how to do the math/ how to write/ understand US History, etc. A great teacher is thoroughly capable in the subject AND can impart that knowledge to others.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by S1969 View Post

                              Agree 100%. But the teacher still needs to know how to do the math/ how to write/ understand US History, etc. A great teacher is thoroughly capable in the subject AND can impart that knowledge to others.
                              Precisely! But unfortunately, knowing history doesn't make you a teacher. There are too many people in the horse world who can't teach, who lack understanding and fundamental knowledge and merely parrot, often at high volume, the words spoken to them when they were 'learning'. Think of a trainer who puts on a martingale because it is 'the look' in the show ring but have no understanding of what the martigale is designed to do.

                              Great riders don't always make great teachers/trainers/coaches but some who don't ride to such a high standard can be brilliant teachers/trainers/coaches. A good eye, empathy, problem solving, an ability to communicate in several ways, curiosity, an open mind, a lack of ego all seem to be part of being a good teacher.
                              "Good young horses are bred, but good advanced horses are trained" Sam Griffiths

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Bill Domey View Post

                                I did a little teaching when I was riding. I worked on a ambulance for over 30 years as a paramedic. I also taught both Emt and Paramedic classes as well as being a field training officer for many years. I do agree with getting more saddle time. Will have to do that after my second surgery. I have created a curriculum designed for beginner riders. I want kids to learn care for the horse and how to ride. But most importantly to have fun. If they compete it’s not whether you win or lose but both you and the horse had fun.
                                You have crossed that half-way line!!!

                                But take a look at the Pony Club curriculum and the BHS program. There's little reason to "reinvent the wheel" when that's already been done for you. Now you use the wheel that somebody else invented. That's just an efficient use of time.

                                Fun is great but fun gets spoiled quickly if there is not sufficient skill and knowledge to ensure the fun isn't cut short by the ground rising up and smiting you!!! Work on your basic skills and then you will have the necessary current knowledge and experience to work with students. The basic instructor carries a heavy burden because they are the ones laying the foundation for future success. That's why selection of a basic instructor is an important task.

                                Another approach is to seek an apprenticeship with an established instructor/school. You won't make much money and you may even have to pay someone for the privilege of helping them. But that's a way to learn whether you, in fact, want to to do this, gain experience, and (importantly) build a reputation with instructors and the parents of potential students.

                                G.
                                Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raa, Uma Paixo

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Willesdon View Post

                                  Precisely! But unfortunately, knowing history doesn't make you a teacher. There are too many people in the horse world who can't teach, who lack understanding and fundamental knowledge and merely parrot, often at high volume, the words spoken to them when they were 'learning'. Think of a trainer who puts on a martingale because it is 'the look' in the show ring but have no understanding of what the martigale is designed to do.

                                  Great riders don't always make great teachers/trainers/coaches but some who don't ride to such a high standard can be brilliant teachers/trainers/coaches. A good eye, empathy, problem solving, an ability to communicate in several ways, curiosity, an open mind, a lack of ego all seem to be part of being a good teacher.
                                  Sure.

                                  But, as I said before, if you have your own barn you might be able to make a living as a riding instructor even if you're not a great rider. But it's unlikely an established barn is going to hire someone that is not a good rider. There are already a lot of people that can ride well and that can teach. Most barns don't really have to hire one OR the other. When they do it's often because they don't want to spend the money to get both, which is another whole issue.

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Thank you for all the advice. I think what i’m going to do is after my surgeries and everything gets settled financially i’m going to get a ottb and train and compete so I can get some exposure.

                                    Comment

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