Going for my PATH Instructor Certification!
I just had to share my excitement with people who would understand :-) I've decided that I'm going to go for my PATH Instructor Certification. I've toyed with the idea for years, but recently was asked by the instructor at the program where I volunteer if I'd help her out with beginner and therapy lessons. Since I'll have a certified mentor, I decided now is as good a time as any.
I think the process will take me the full year, based on when the 3 day workshop/certification is available near me and the amount of time it will probably take me to accrue enough supervised hours, but I really am thrilled to think about starting the process.
Anyone want to share any tips or personal experiences about the process?
Just chiming in to cheer you on-Good Luck w/your program!
Congrats big time Egrogan!
This is a huge process, it took me about 6 months, but I was fully dedicated to it. The online courses really don't take much time, just read all the material thoroughly - I found it helped to print everything out and highlight or jot down notes/comments/translations (as it's all in legal speak gibberish) in the margins of the pages.
Know the precautions and contraindications well - they matter.
When you volunteer, see if the instructor will let you teach small portions of the lesson (or even the whole lesson under their guidance).
The workshop tests are very stressful - mostly the intensity of the program makes it feel stressful, but really everyone is very kind and they don't ask you much that you shouldn't already know. The first few days of the workshop is spent teaching you everything and reviewing everything you should have already learned. So by the time the 3 tests come up you'll really be prepared.
I hadn't taken riding lessons myself for quite a while before I decided to go for this certification. But because there was a riding test I took about 10 lessons with one of the instructors I interned with - we printed out the test and I practiced it a million times on different horses.
The lesson plan portion of the test isn't terribly hard, if you can ask your mentor to see if you can write some lesson plans for the students you're working with regularly - or even go through the lesson you just taught and write what would have been the lesson plan for practice. PATH is very particular about how they like them written. But they go over that in the workshop too.
Remember when deciding your plan to focus on one specific skill that suits your rider's skills well.
While the students are riding and your teaching the testers will be watching the whole time - which can be stressful, but they want you to do well! Just remember alll the safety precautions - check the girth at least twice during the lesson, make sure the safety side of the stirrup is facing out! You will fail for missing a safety thing like that.
The toughest part for me was that in all the places I've worked and interned at we teach the lessons having the instructor walk along with the student in private lessons - but the PATH certification requires it be a group of 2 or more to count as hours (unless they've changed that by now). And the lesson in your test is with 2 students, which means you need to stand in the middle of the ring watching and instructing everyone, students and volunteers. Learn your volunteers names when they come in because you'll need to be able to specify things with them.
That was really tough for me because I was used to working one on one and showing each student what to do and how to do it. So to have to stay in the middle of the ring was tough!!
There's so much more, if you have any more specific questions feel free to let me know :) This is such a wonderful decision! Also, MA requires a typical riding instructors license too, I'm not sure which state you're in but you'll want to check and find out if you need a state license too.
Punk- thank you so much for such a detailed response- so helpful. A few thoughts from me below...
Again, thanks so much for your advice. I really appreciate it.
Sounds like you've got it all figured out - I had trouble getting hours with 2+ students too - I think they really ought to change that rule as therapy lessons would be safer private anyway. But that's just my opinion. :P
What I managed to do was at one barn I worked at they taught 2 lessons at the same time in the same ring and I got to instruct the instructors - which counted as a group. Even though there was a certified instructor with each student - I was teaching two. Does you program ever have 2 lessons that run at the same time in the same ring? If not they should look into doing that, many students benefit from riding with a buddy.
If not there's a barn in MA (IDK how close to the border you are) Ironstone, that does group lessons all the time - when it came to crunch time I used them for the rest of my hours.
As for riding, taking lessons will help big time. It's amazing what we let ourselves get away with riding on our own xD Can you ask the instructors your interning with if you could take a few lessons with them?
Sounds like you're right on track!! You're going to love it :) The hardest part is all the walking and trotting!! You'll be very fit if you aren't already ;)
Just wanted to say congratulations and good luck! It'll be a very rewarding journey!
Awesome answer! I went through this process as well, and it sounds like we were on parallel journey's! Great job! I would agree with every aspect of what you wrote.
I'm going through this process right now--going for my workshop and certification this week!! I found a great blog earlier that gives lesson ideas, tips, etc....and wish I had found it earlier! Lessons in Therapeutic Riding | Lesson Plans, Patterns, Activities, Games & More for the Therapeutic Horseback Riding Instructor
Good luck! I'm extremely nervous at this point, but finding a mentor was THE hardest part, so you're doing well to have one lined up ahead of time!
I'm still plugging along with my supervised hours. The hardest part for me is getting enough group lessons- I'm getting lots of great experience teaching individual students, which is how the majority of lessons at our barn are structured. But, we hardly have any groups. It's really frustrating PATH won't count the hours with individual students.
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