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A request for feedback on the USHJA Trainer Certification Program

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  • A request for feedback on the USHJA Trainer Certification Program

    Hi, I’m reaching out to get your feedback and suggestions on the potential path(s) of the USHJA Trainer Certification Program. The trainer certification committee is considering expanding the program beyond the current level of certification.

    To give you some background, the Trainer Certification Committee made a presentation at the USHJA Annual Meeting to introduce the concept of vouchers. These vouchers primarily focused on achievements and milestones that a trainer had reached through successfully training riders at specific events (i.e. some events at b, c and affiliate equitation shows, Pony Finals, Medal Finals, Young Riders etc). These vouchers could be used to gain recognition in hunters, jumpers or equitation at the bronze, silver, gold or platinum level. The bulk of the people that attended the presentation were strenuous in their objections to the idea of labeling or ranking trainers with a level.

    Although I am not a member of the Trainer Certification Committee, I did speak in the meeting to address the fact that there are many trainers in this country that are highly skilled but do not participate in the upper level shows that would allow them to accumulate the vouchers necessary for their success in this program. There are many trainers who specialize in putting that all important strong foundation on riders. These trainers, either by choice or circumstance, may not participate in divisions that are even on the radar screen of this program.

    I sent an e mail to the head of the Trainer Certification Program, Shelley Campf, proposing that the idea of levels be removed from the certification concept. I suggested that the program be based on the following criteria:

    1. Knowledge (test scores or pass/fail)
    2. Experience (length of service as a trainer)
    3. Governance (service provided at various levels of governance). This one may not be necessary

    Shelley was open to ideas and I asked her if this topic could be posted on the forum to get a wider perspective. The Trainer Certification Committee is taking some time to re-shape and broaden the scope of the achievements (or vouchers) that can be used.

    Please take some time and send your thoughts and constructive criticism. I will pass them on, or you can contact Shelley directly. Her e mail address is on the USHJA website under the Committee tab for Trainer Certification.

    Thank you, Mary Babick

  • #2
    Hmmmm,I am slightly torn on this.
    Most trainers I know have no use for a certificate or voucher attesting to their experience or skill. They are doing their jobs, earning a living and show (or not) at whatever level they choose. Other than a sentence in their advertising,what are the benefits of being a USHJA certified trainer?

    For the consumer,new person, I can see where some accredit ion program could point them toward someone who has a basic knowledge and was willing to jump thru a few hoops for certification. But don't many people simply go to the closest barn near their home and start riding there? or start with whoever teaches the kid they know who is already riding?

    What is the incentive for most trainers to even do this? I suspect many trainers would not care for the 1* or 4* ratings (awards/vouchers) since everyone is on different types of playing fields. Trainers that are already at Medal Finals every year don't even need a cert from USHJA, since they obviously know what they are doing and got there long before a certification program was around.

    I am not totally against certification. If someone wants to have it as a door opener to get their business started, they can spend the time and money and add that to a resume. Someone else may skip it and use their championships and annual awards as their resume.. Different strokes.

    So, what is USHJA providing for trainers that makes the certification worth their time and effort ? I think an awards system for longevity, success at various levels,milestones are useless if trainer don't participate in the first place. I don't think participation should be mandated in any way, so USHJA, come up with something that would make me eager to get certified.
    I can explain it TO you,but I can't understand it FOR you


    • Original Poster

      Thanks for responding Jumpytoo. I will try to answer your questions.

      There is some talk that sooner or later USEF may require licensing/certification for any trainer who signs an entry blank at a USEF show. I'm not sure how that will help anyone because I can see parents signing in place of the trainer. I know the State of Massachusetts requires certification and I believe that is a state exam.

      Part of this is for the consumer. It would allow a person who is new to the industry to search for an instructor who had some level of certification/licensing. Currently, any person can say that they are a trainer. I have seen some people with no knowledge but a great line of talk teaching people. It can be quite horrifying. This program won't necessarily create good teachers but it will allow them to have at least a minimum amount of knowledge.

      There have been so many articles written about the lack of horsemanship knowledge. Certification may help to a certain extent. The test does cover some mid-level stable management and horsemanship information. I understand that forcing people to study isn't palatable or useful. Perhaps as some of the newer kids come up, they will be interested in these subjects and studying won't become such a big deal. Look at the amount of interest in studying for the New England Finals exam.

      The one benefit I know of is that you receive a reduction in the cost of your liability insurance. Since the Trainer Certification is a one time fee and the cost reduction is received each year, it probably pays for itself over time.

      I forgot to put in my original post that I thought continuing education should be part of the program.

      Thanks again!


      • #4
        I agree that participation should NOT be mandated. This just seems like another USHJA program that will not actually benefit anyone except the USHJA's pockets. My trainer is pretty strongly against some aspects of this program, and she's certainly been around...
        Proudly blogging for The Chronicle of the Horse!


        • #5
          Originally posted by supershorty628 View Post
          I agree that participation should NOT be mandated.

          Is there any pass/fail aspect to the program now? Or does everybody who applies get certified as long as they pay the fees, do the paperwork, and attend the whole clinic?


          • #6
            Originally posted by MHM View Post

            Is there any pass/fail aspect to the program now? Or does everybody who applies get certified as long as they pay the fees, do the paperwork, and attend the whole clinic?

            ^^^^^^^^^^^ Like being "pardoned" by some churches... give us enough $$$ and pooof, it disapears... ( or appears in this case....)
            Come to the dark side, we have cookies


            • #7
              Pennywell, I haven't paid that much attention to this program, so I was asking a genuine question about the certification process. I don't know the answer, but I am curious about it.


              • #8
                In theory, I am in favor of some type of mechanism that indicates a professional has at least some level of basic knowledge and training. Where I struggle with the USHJA concept is the implementation of that mechanism.

                IF we ever put together the kind of curriculum/testing process that is used for the BHS exams, I would be all in favor of it. That system includes substantial practical application of the skills needed to ride/teach/train at the various levels of certification, but over there it is a defined career path which requires a fair amount of tuition, probably not something that would fly here.

                Short of that sort of curriculum and demonstrated proficiency, I think certification is going to wind up being just basically a marketing gimmick for trainers who are aiming at attracting newbies. It's the kind of thing someone would put in a Yellow Pages ad, not the sort of thing that a knowledgeable person is going to look for when interviewing a new trainer to do the big eq or rated hunters or jumpers.

                If the US certification is just a test or series of tests... meh, sorry, I don't think that means much. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I am pretty sure I could pass any written test that might be used in such a program, and I'm no professional, just a knowledgeable ammy. For sure I do not ride well enough to be a pro.

                I would absolutely not support any requirement for certification being required in order to sign an entry blank as a trainer. For one thing, as another poster noted above, it would be a simple matter for owners to simply sign instead, so the requirement would have no teeth at all. It will be viewed, again as noted above, as just another way for the USHJA to reach into more wallets.

                Sorry not to be more supportive.
                We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.


                • #9
                  I am a parent of a young adult striving to make a career in the horse industry through a series of apprenticeships (working student, groom/rider, etc.). As several trainers have told her, "she's paying her dues." A review of the job descriptions on Yard & Groom will provide you a good definition of what "paying your dues" means when a young person truly commits herself to one of these positions for at least a year. My daughter has gained a wealth of knowledge of what to do and what not to do in the management of horses and the ethical treatment of clients. But it's all a crap shoot - for the most part, you have no idea of the character or professionalism of the trainers who hire you, regardless of their public reputation.

                  If there were a certification program that provided a clear career path for young professionals - clinics, internships, national exams - that were well supported from the national organizations and the leaders in the sport - I'd be all for it. What does "well supported" mean? Highly subsidized and monitored by the governing body so that the young professional and their mentors could afford to invest the considerable time and resources to participate. It also would have to be well promoted at the local/regional level to educate the membership on its importance and long-term benefit - the assurance that there will continue to be well trained professionals to teach lessons and train horses for the enjoyment of children and amateurs in the decades to come.

                  I don't think you can have a meaningful certification program for established professionals. It's not fair to, after years of collecting a professional's USEF and USHJA dues and accepting their signatures on the show forms, to then one day say, "show me your credentials." But a program as I outlined above for those just starting out would provide a road map for talented, dedicated young adults who want to make a career as a trainer, but don't have a trust fund to keep them afloat.

                  Of course, I don't believe that USHJA has any intention of committing to such a program. I base this assertion on their torn loyalties and underwhelming devotion to even a successful program like the EAP. From what I see and read between the lines, the trainer certification program will have no teeth and be another way to collect fees and provide no real value to its membership.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by MHM View Post

                    'everybody who applies get certified as long as they pay the fees, do the paperwork, and attend the whole clinic?
                    This is certainly what I am seeing.
                    "You can't really debate with someone who has a prescient invisible friend"


                    • Original Poster

                      MHM, to become certified you have to pass the test. I believe the score is 80 or 85.

                      Lucassb - don't worry that you aren't supportive. I'm just trying to get feedback whether it be positive or negative to take back to USHJA. I am a BHSAI so I understand your comment about the BHS training. I have never regretted my time in England studying for my AI or my further study for my II. I use the stable management, teaching and general horsemanship knowledge on a daily basis. The riding was extremely eventing based but I still learned a lot from the programs. However, I don't think that certification is well regarded in some parts of this sport. Apparently, bringing up the subject of my BHS certification makes me look bad in some way. Go figure!


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ponyflyer View Post
                        MHM, to become certified you have to pass the test. I believe the score is 80 or 85.
                        Thanks! Is there any kind of practicum involved? Or is it strictly a written test? Open book? Taken in a setting where people can confer on it? Just trying to get an idea of the procedure.

                        Thanks for providing the information, and for asking for feedback.


                        • #13
                          I did the program in 2010 and am now certified. The test was too easy and there were some glitches. I suggest that someone go back and look it over. Some of the pictures did not match up to the questions being asked.

                          In theory the program is a step in the right direction. I can't say it means much to me as anyone can pass that test, no time limit, open book, etc. We need a program where you have to actually show that you can ride and train.


                          • #14
                            I believe the test is online, you are told what you got wrong, you can try twice and then there is a wait period to try again.
                            $100 application
                            $225 for the next part
                            not sure after that but its easy to look up

                            Not anything like a BHS cert

                            maybe banding together a bunch of pony club tests would be good ?
                            I can explain it TO you,but I can't understand it FOR you


                            • #15
                              Last I knew the test was open book, taken on your home computer. From what I remember and C Pony Clubber should easily score 85 or above.


                              • #16
                                Two things added would be beneficial, but maybe not practical, maybe the powers that be can make it work.

                                One- working student type position from knowledgable professionals.

                                Two- winning in perhaps a designated division for emerging professionals in hunters and jumpers.

                                Ya got know what ya doing, and ya gotta know how to win.

                                Add that to horsecare and teaching ability and you might get it right.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Summit Springs Farm View Post
                                  Two- winning in perhaps a designated division for emerging professionals in hunters and jumpers.

                                  Ya got know what ya doing, and ya gotta know how to win.
                                  That won't do much towards certifying people who teach beginners and might not show themselves.

                                  As another poster said earlier in the thread, the idea of certification might appeal more to people who teach beginners, since that might help draw in people who are looking for an instructor in the phone book.


                                  • #18
                                    [QUOTE=I don't think you can have a meaningful certification program for established professionals. It's not fair to, after years of collecting a professional's USEF and USHJA dues and accepting their signatures on the show forms, to then one day say, "show me your credentials." [/QUOTE]


                                    In my opinion the TCP founders made an error when they did not "grandfather" established trainers.


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Ruby G. Weber View Post

                                      In my opinion the TCP founders made an error when they did not "grandfather" established trainers.
                                      Wholly agreed.
                                      Proudly blogging for The Chronicle of the Horse!


                                      • #20
                                        From what I know of the program, it has so many flaws and holes in it that the results are meaningless.

                                        That said, if there is to be any sort of categorization, why not use the system that is already in place at the USEF for Judges, Stewards and Technical Delegates et. al.:

                                        Trainers can become certified by discipline and that will be part of the Certification award. That way, if someone wants to learn dressage, they can find barns with dressage trainers who are certified in that speciality. Same with Hunters. Jumpers, Eq, etc.

                                        Just because a trainer is certified does not mean that they know didley squat about all areas. If the intent is to aid the consumer in finding qualified instruction, then the consumer needs to have more information than just "Certification".

                                        Like judges, etc, there could also be [eg.] "small h" and "Big H". The certification is in place now to only identify those trainers with preset minimal skills and experience. To get their H or E or J or D the criteria would be practical, results oriented, not a T/F written test.

                                        Say, for a trainer to move from an e to an E she would have to have had a minimum of 3 students participate at a regional equitation finals.

                                        For a trainer to move from a j to a J, she would have to have had a minimum of 3 students participate successfully at 1.10m.

                                        For an Eventing trainer - 3 students finish a training level event with score under 50.

                                        (I am throwing out these numbers off the top of my head -- let's not get into a discussion as to whether the values are fair or correct -- These examples are just ideas for what it might take to move up for a small to a big letter in that specialty.)

                                        That way, the consumer will also know that the trainer is not only knowledgable in the specialty, but has experience producing riders up to a certain level of competence. Let's face it, an eventer going Prelim already knows the trainers in her area. As does a jumper rider competing at 1.20m. The people who this program is intended to benefit are at the lower end of the experience spectrum.

                                        For those trainers who do not have customers who compete, then there can be designations for that too: as in GH for General Horsemanship, or TR for Trail Riding. Not every trainer wants or has clients who do Big Eq or higher level jumpers.

                                        This is just a concept: but the first thing I would want to know if looking for a trainer in a new locale is:

                                        Is this person a decent trainer IN THE KIND OF RIDING I DO?


                                        "He lives in a cocoon of solipsism"

                                        Charles Krauthammer speaking about Trump