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Horse Riding Coach: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Mar 25, 2021

Horse riding coaches teach students skills in horsemanship, including proper technique, grooming and equine health. They require experience in horsemanship and possibly competition. These positions had an average annual salary of about $44,000 in 2019.

Essential Information

A horse riding coach instructs students in horsemanship and specific riding skills to prepare them for equestrian competitions and specialized events at the amateur, collegiate and/or professional level. Coaches may work with individuals or teams in school athletic departments, stables, ranches, camps, or independent facilities. Extensive riding and competition experience, professional certification, and/or formal education can increase a coach's professional efficacy and earning potential.

Required Education At minimum, extensive on-the-job experience. Degrees sometimes helpful.
Other Requirements In some cases, professional certification.
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029) 12%* (for general category of coaches and scouts)
Median Annual Salary (2019) $34,840* (for general category of coaches and scouts)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Duties

The main duties of a horse riding coach involve helping students learn and master specialized riding skills, with an emphasis on assisting students in developing proper technique and form. Coaches also help promote safety for horse and rider. At minimum, a horse riding coach may teach the basics of horsemanship and riding to beginner, first-time, or one-time riders; at the most advanced level, a coach prepares professional athletes for national and international equestrian competitions in disciplines such as saddle seat equitation, dressage, Western, hunter, combined driving, vaulting, and English pleasure.

A coach works with a student in lessons or training sessions to enrich the student's understanding of the relationship between horse and rider; and to improve the student's riding ability and performance. In addition to riding techniques, coaches may teach:

  • Horse feeding, grooming, and care
  • Health issues
  • Human and equine anatomy and physiology
  • Training and communication
  • Proper use of tack and equipment

Education Requirements

The level of education required to become a horse riding coach varies depending upon the level of competition and type of training facility. The Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA) suggests that a horse riding coach combine years of riding and training, extensive horsemanship knowledge, and experience in competitions. Coaches must also possess strong communication skills, be able to plan and implement effective lessons, exhibit professionalism, promote the humane treatment of animals, and understand the ethical and legal implications of the job. Although most states in the U.S. do not require licensing for horse riding instructors, professional certification is available through organizations affiliated with the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) -- the U.S. governing body of equestrian sport.

The CHA hosts five- to seven-day certification clinics which test attendees on teaching and riding abilities. One or more certified clinicians will administer written tests, provide workshops, and grant the appropriate certifications at the end of a clinic. Certification levels in a variety of specializations include assistant instructor and several instructor levels; as well as master instructor and two levels of clinic instructor (http://cha-ahse.org).

The American Riding Instructors Association (ARIA) offers certification at three levels in 15 teaching specialties. Candidates complete written tests, participate in interviews and submit teaching videos for evaluation (www.riding-instructor.com).

Potential coaches can also solidify their knowledge and horsemanship skills by obtaining an associate's or bachelor's degree in a major with an equine focus. For example, a Bachelor of Science in Equine Studies allows students to gain scientific and practical knowledge of horses as well as business knowledge. Courses often include animal nutrition, animal health and disease, horse handling, and horse training. Courses in sports medicine or athletics training would also be helpful to strengthen a student's coaching abilities.

Salary and Job Outlook

Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) does not provide specific information for horse riding coaches, it does publish data for coaches in general, as well as self-enrichment teachers. The BLS estimated that from 2019 - 2029, employment of coaches and scouts was expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations. Additionally, coaches and scouts were reported to have earned a mean annual salary of $44,910 as of May 2019, per the BLS; while self-enrichment education teachers earned an average median annual salary of $46,120 during that same time. PayScale.com indicated that as of December 2020, horse trainers earned median annual salaries of about $39,998 per year.

Horse riding coaches can increase their knowledge and skill through completing an associate's or bachelor's degree in this field. There are certifications that may not be required, but position the individual as a professional. The job growth outlook for these positions is about average.

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