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Become a Horse Riding Instructor: Education and Career Roadmap

Research the requirements to become a horse riding instructor. Learn about the job description and duties, and see the step-by-step process to start a career in horse riding instruction. View article »

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  • 0:05 Horse Riding Insructor…
  • 0:48 Become a Proficient Rider
  • 1:23 Gain Instructional Skills
  • 1:51 Earn a Degree
  • 2:11 Consider Certification

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Video Transcript

Horse Riding Instructor Career Info

Horse riding instructors spend their days teaching people of all ages and skill levels how to properly ride horses. They may also teach others equine care techniques. In this recreational field, some work may be seasonal. Horse riding instructors might also need to work weekends and their hours could vary. Injuries, particularly from falls or kicks, can be a part of this job as well.

These professionals should have a thorough understanding of horses, the ability to teach others, patience, and the ability to ride, groom, catch, halter, and lead a horse. According to PayScale.com in 2016, horse trainers in general earned a median annual salary of $30,410.

Become a Proficient Rider

According to the Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA), aspiring instructors should have expertise in riding and grooming horses. Instructors should also be able to ride at a walk, trot, or canter in an arena. Safety precautions are important as well. To acquire these skills students should take riding lessons at a reputable stable or equestrian center in their area. Many of these locations offer both group and private lessons. Volunteering at a stable is one way to gain additional insight into this field. Observing professional instructors may be helpful as well.

Gain Instructional Skills

A good teacher must be able to clearly and concisely impart knowledge to others. The CHA indicates that prospective riding coaches should also be able to design effective methods of instruction and implement them in ways that benefit both horses and riders. A few private organizations and schools offer training programs or clinics for aspiring instructors. Common topics include teaching methods, equine law, emergency procedures, and horse selection.

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Earn a Degree

While not necessary to become a horse riding instructor, an associate's or bachelor's degree in equine studies can provide valuable, in-depth knowledge of horses and horsemanship techniques. Some of the courses you might take include horse management, equine reproduction, horsemanship, equine behavior, and ethics in the equine industry.

Consider Certification

The American Riding Instructors Association (ARIA)'s certification process evaluates a potential teacher's instructional ability through written and oral tests as well as videos submitted by the candidate. The organization offers certification in fifteen specialties including western pleasure and equitation, dressage, side-saddle, show jumping, hunt seat, and riding to hounds. Tests are available in several levels of competency for each specialty.

The CHA requires prospective teachers to attend a 5-7 day clinic at an approved host facility. Expert clinicians evaluate the applicants as they teach practice lessons, participate in workshops, and take written tests. Students may become certified in a number of different specialties at levels ranging from assistant instructor to clinic instructor.

The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH) provides three levels of certification for those who wish to become therapeutic riding instructors. These professionals use horsemanship to provide unique therapies and activities that enrich the lives of children and adults suffering from illnesses, disabilities, or injuries.


To recap, horse riding instructors should themselves be proficient horse riders with the patience and ability to teach others. Earning a degree and gaining certification can also give these professionals a boost in the field.

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