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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi all,

I've mentioned here before that my 10-year goal is to be teaching lessons, with an ultimate goal to operate my own boarding and lesson facility. I have many ideas for different programs I would like to construct for the patrons of my barn, from various clinic types, a show team, and practical horsemanship to horse training theory put into practice. Just, in general, a very educational and supportive place.

I, obviously, have a *lot* to learn. I haven't been riding since 2 years of age, am nowhere near qualified to teach a riding lesson, and, in my teen years, was removed from all confidence thanks to an instructor I had. Hence a 10 year goal.

With this being said, I have an idea that I might want to pursue further education beyond horses. But, where to go is the question.

I'm considering a split between psychology - not only good for understanding people, but basic thought processes and training techniques as well. Or, teaching. Obviously, I wouldn't be pursuing a teaching degree for the expected use. But, given that riding lessons are another form of education (and the types of clinics and classes I'd like to hold), I was wondering if that kind of background wouldn't be beneficial? Also considering a business degree.

There is also the fact that horse riding is a physical sport, and, in theory, instructors could be considered "personal trainers." So was thinking about building up a knowledge base of how to teach physical education, getting CPR training, and various related skills. The muscles you need to ride with can be built out of the saddle, and after sustaining an injury from riding that could have been prevented with proper warm up, I believe this is very important to acknowledge!

In terms of the horsey education, I am looking into lessons in my area and intend to find someone who also trains horses to study under.

My question to you all is, when looking for instructors, do you also look for formal education? Or would you rather hope for a good teacher and prefer the longer period of time spent in saddle?
 

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It would depend on what kind of clients you would be hoping to get I think.

As a beginner rider with no competition goals I wasnt looking for anyone with formal education. When I wanted to start taking lessons as an adult after a long break I just wanted an understanding teacher, who wouldnt mind my slow progress and understood that I was there to have fun, not to stress myself with more and more work.

If I wanted to be seriously competetive then I think that formal education of my instructor would be important to me ( along with their own competition success and success of their students).

But it may also depend on the area where you live / want to work in. My area is full of kids that will ride horses for a few years and then they grow up and leave horses behind. So the formal education isnt as important here.
 

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I highly recommend staying away from getting a teaching degree unless you also have any interest at all in classroom teaching. Assuming you are in the US, all BA programs require pretty full-time student teaching at a school. And, if you ever needed to fall back on that degree, the education system is an absolute mess right now. My husband just blissfully escaped after teaching for 10 years (it was his passion - he loves helping students learn) after being burned constantly by administrators that have never been in front of a classroom. EXTREMELY overworked and underpaid. This just isn't a road to go down lightly...

Psychology could be interesting! Again, if you're interested in the subject matter. And I know some people might say Business. I myself cannot imagine going through all of those dull classes (I took one as an elective), but it's a "practical" degree. Business with different concentrations could also be more interesting - like small business ownership?

Thinking a little bit outside of the box - Communications was one of my majors. It's kind of a cross between English/Marketing/Journalism and something like that could help form a foundation of skills to market and organize a business. (A lot of that requires creative thinking and good communication skills!)

I think your PhysEd idea would be better filled by one-off classes or certificate programs than a whole degree.

And I agree that I'm not sure that you actually need a degree - just to be extremely comfortable with horse management, training (or plan to have a very good on-site trainer you pay), and good people skills. But if you want one to either fall back on or just to do some learning, those are my thoughts.
 

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How about physical therapy? There are always jobs in the medical field. Business degrees are also helpful.

You won't make a lot of money as a riding instructor or horse trainer unless you've built up a rep. (Or come up with some kind of gimmick like half the empty-hat horse gurus out there). And there's tons of serious competition by folks who've lived and breathed horses all their lives.

Look at the fields that have high employment. You need to make a living. And if you plan to have your own training facility, you'll need capital.

As far as what kind of education I'd look for in a trainer: experience.
 

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Look for a degree that will allow you to work full time doing something else. Not horses. If you want to teach competitive riding, you'll need a competitive track record. Which suggests an independent income would help. If you just want to teach general riding...how you deal with horses and clients as you SLOWLY get some will be far more important than a degree. Which means an independent income will help because it is very hard for an instructor like that to make much $$$.
 

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I think it's great that you're considering all of these options. I would have thought that teaching would be a good idea, but not so much after @IRideaHippogriff's post.

I like PT. First of all, it's a degree where you could actually get a job and make decent money. Second, we horse people are always complaining that medical professionals don't "get it" when it comes to horse riding. Seems that a lot of them are just like "well stop riding if you're getting sore." I'm sure many of us would love to have someone who understands the passion and can help us rehab or get into shape with a view to riding. If you lived in a horsey area, surely you would find yourself overwhelmed with patients. I would go out of my way to get a PT who understood riding.

My bodyworker is a PT, and she does bodywork on horses and people, in addition to running an equine-assisted physical therapy operation. Those things can really all dovetail together.
 

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You've already gotten very good advice! I have to agree that I also don't look for formal education in my instructors. That being said, I do have a friend or two who have degrees in education and they are very good instructors, but Education is their full time career.

My question to you all is, when looking for instructors, do you also look for formal education? Or would you rather hope for a good teacher and prefer the longer period of time spent in saddle?
So, the answer is no and that the ability of the instructor in riding and teaching is what it comes down to. However, I do consider it a bonus if my instructor is certified as an instructor and/or coach. In Canada, we have a instructor and/or coach certification program where the instructor is tested for their teaching abilities undersaddle, unmounted and in theory. There are different levels to the certification; however, each have different requirements to even be eligible to apply for evaluation. For example, for instructor of beginners (IOB), one needs to first pass the rider level 6 Equine Canada rider/theory evaluation, be CPR certified, and pass a few more classes. You also have to shadow a certified trainer before applying. Instructors do not always go past IOB, even if capable, since it can be an expensive process though. However, I think it is always a reassurance for the client to know their instructor has been 'tried and tested' at the level their teaching.

Besides that, I've found that many who partake in working student positions under higher level riders are able to start up business more easily. So, I'd say that the biggest draw of clients to an instructor is riding experience/ability.
 

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Hmm, to answer the other part of your question. As a student, I've had many different instructors, and each had strengths and weaknesses. I know that a couple of them had accounting degrees, one had a general business degree, and one was still in school. None of this made any difference to me.

What I liked as a student was
(1) ability to explain things in different ways if I didn't understand the first one,
(2) willingness to LISTEN TO WHAT I WAS ASKING (Sorry for the all caps, but I have one instructor who hears what she wants to hear and then goes off on a lecture that's completely unrelated to what I asked),
(3) ability to get inside the horse's head (figuratively, obviously) and help me understand why it's doing what it's doing, coupled with
(4) ability to change the lesson plan if things aren't going well.

I am not sure that the teacher having had a long amount of riding time necessarily means anything. We all know that there are people who can ride all the time but never actually LEARN, and certainly never be able to TEACH. All things being equal, yes, someone who has more horse experience is better than someone who doesn't, but I'd rather have someone who understand what they are doing, even if they've only been riding a few years.
 

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Physical or Occuplational therapy will be excellent areas to pursue. It can be competitive to get into programs for these degrees.


You will need some source of regular income if you want to create a teaching facility and barn.



Why don't you start taking lessons now, observing things and making notes of what you like and what you would change.
 

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It depends on how you want to reach your goals. To be able to buy a barn to own and run lesson programs out of it would cost a lot of money. So you would need a career that would allow you to do that - are you looking for a full time career, but that also has skills relatable to running a boarding barn?

If you are just looking to teach lessons, you can do that at any barn and I'd be looking at getting lots of experience riding.

My current instructor I believe has her certification. But what matters to me most is the experience and whether or not I like the person. If I walk away from a lesson feeling frustrated and I'm not having fun, then what is the point? At the same time I want my instructor to push me out of my comfort zone when needed. I feel I have a good match with my current teacher. She answers all my questions and I have been very happy with the progress we have made.

If it were me, I would get a job in the trades (such as electric, welding, etc). These skills can have high paying opportunities as a career, but they can also be applied in your every day life. In addition, you can trade your skill for someone else's if you ever need help with something. If there is anything I have learned - having your own property (especially farm property) requires a lot of maintenance. And having the skills necessary to fix things and address problems can be very helpful. We have a small acreage and I can't even tell you how much time is spent fixing equipment or addressing maintenance issues.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I highly recommend staying away from getting a teaching degree unless you also have any interest at all in classroom teaching. Assuming you are in the US, all BA programs require pretty full-time student teaching at a school. And, if you ever needed to fall back on that degree, the education system is an absolute mess right now. My husband just blissfully escaped after teaching for 10 years (it was his passion - he loves helping students learn) after being burned constantly by administrators that have never been in front of a classroom. EXTREMELY overworked and underpaid. This just isn't a road to go down lightly...

Psychology could be interesting! Again, if you're interested in the subject matter. And I know some people might say Business. I myself cannot imagine going through all of those dull classes (I took one as an elective), but it's a "practical" degree. Business with different concentrations could also be more interesting - like small business ownership?

Thinking a little bit outside of the box - Communications was one of my majors. It's kind of a cross between English/Marketing/Journalism and something like that could help form a foundation of skills to market and organize a business. (A lot of that requires creative thinking and good communication skills!)

I think your PhysEd idea would be better filled by one-off classes or certificate programs than a whole degree.

And I agree that I'm not sure that you actually need a degree - just to be extremely comfortable with horse management, training (or plan to have a very good on-site trainer you pay), and good people skills. But if you want one to either fall back on or just to do some learning, those are my thoughts.
I didn't realize that the educational system was this torn up, which is very discouraging to hear. I'm sorry your husband had to go through so much drama. I will add communications to the degrees I'm considering, remove teaching from the list, and look into certification programs! Thank you.

It would depend on what kind of clients you would be hoping to get I think.
As a beginner rider with no competition goals I wasnt looking for anyone with formal education. When I wanted to start taking lessons as an adult after a long break I just wanted an understanding teacher, who wouldnt mind my slow progress and understood that I was there to have fun, not to stress myself with more and more work.
If I wanted to be seriously competetive then I think that formal education of my instructor would be important to me ( along with their own competition success and success of their students).
But it may also depend on the area where you live / want to work in. My area is full of kids that will ride horses for a few years and then they grow up and leave horses behind. So the formal education isnt as important here.
Definitely hadn't considered the kids growing up and moving on situation, but that does make sense. Having fun and learning is what I'm ultimately aiming for - I want to teach kids more than just "riding the horse." And, I want to support parents through helping to bridge the gap between "horse crazy child who takes lessons" and "horse ownership." I mentioned a show team but, I don't necessarily mean for serious competition. More like, for going to the show to gain the experience, not to ride the hair off the horses and be the best in the ring. I'm not sure how well this mentality would do, but I do know that there was a market for this kind of "show team" when I did ride, and like to think that it's still out there. Of course, in ten years, who knows? Thank you.

How about physical therapy? There are always jobs in the medical field. Business degrees are also helpful.
You won't make a lot of money as a riding instructor or horse trainer unless you've built up a rep. (Or come up with some kind of gimmick like half the empty-hat horse gurus out there). And there's tons of serious competition by folks who've lived and breathed horses all their lives.
Look at the fields that have high employment. You need to make a living. And if you plan to have your own training facility, you'll need capital.
As far as what kind of education I'd look for in a trainer: experience.
I absolutely love the idea of looking into physical therapy! It would definitely tie in to knowing more about physical education and how the body works, which directly correlates to saddle work. It'd also be nice to know what kind of exercises I could suggest to students, if they asked, that would be able to help strengthen their knees, improve posture, or other various things they could do at home, to help build to their goals at the barn. Not too keen on creating a gimmick though! Really, just want to provide a down-to-earth environment with horses and help build a foundation of knowledge that they could take with them, regardless of whether they stay in the saddle or not.

I think it's great that you're considering all of these options. I would have thought that teaching would be a good idea, but not so much after @IRideaHippogriff's post.

I like PT. First of all, it's a degree where you could actually get a job and make decent money. Second, we horse people are always complaining that medical professionals don't "get it" when it comes to horse riding. Seems that a lot of them are just like "well stop riding if you're getting sore." I'm sure many of us would love to have someone who understands the passion and can help us rehab or get into shape with a view to riding. If you lived in a horsey area, surely you would find yourself overwhelmed with patients. I would go out of my way to get a PT who understood riding.
You bring up a very valid point. I remember, after just ruining my knee on a ride, zero understanding from doctors and the PT I had. It's frustrating, because you can't exactly explain the reasoning behind why you'd want to continue in such a sport after sustaining that kind of an injury. It's nice to know I wasn't alone and also promising to look forward to. I'm really strongly considering looking into PT now and will add it to the list!

Look for a degree that will allow you to work full time doing something else. Not horses. If you want to teach competitive riding, you'll need a competitive track record. Which suggests an independent income would help. If you just want to teach general riding...how you deal with horses and clients as you SLOWLY get some will be far more important than a degree. Which means an independent income will help because it is very hard for an instructor like that to make much $$$.
I absolutely agree. I haven't been as involved in horses as I would have liked as I've been working in a separate career field. This is a very long term goal at this point, and I appreciate the sobering reminder here. Thank you.

You've already gotten very good advice! I have to agree that I also don't look for formal education in my instructors. That being said, I do have a friend or two who have degrees in education and they are very good instructors, but Education is their full time career.

So, the answer is no and that the ability of the instructor in riding and teaching is what it comes down to. However, I do consider it a bonus if my instructor is certified as an instructor and/or coach. In Canada, we have a instructor and/or coach certification program where the instructor is tested for their teaching abilities undersaddle, unmounted and in theory. There are different levels to the certification; however, each have different requirements to even be eligible to apply for evaluation. For example, for instructor of beginners (IOB), one needs to first pass the rider level 6 Equine Canada rider/theory evaluation, be CPR certified, and pass a few more classes. You also have to shadow a certified trainer before applying. Instructors do not always go past IOB, even if capable, since it can be an expensive process though. However, I think it is always a reassurance for the client to know their instructor has been 'tried and tested' at the level their teaching.

Besides that, I've found that many who partake in working student positions under higher level riders are able to start up business more easily. So, I'd say that the biggest draw of clients to an instructor is riding experience/ability.
It's interesting that Canada has instructor certifications! I'm not surprised, as I said before, you're providing an education to a paying patron. It's more surprising to me that there isn't a requirement similar in the United States. Anyone can teach here. Whether they know how to ride or not! They can also train, whether they've seen a horse or not in person. A lot of it relies on the buyer being aware. I would definitely want to know that the person on the ground at the very least can do CPR and will have a clue what to do if I fall off. Which is ultimately, what I'm trying to get myself to! Thank you.

Hmm, to answer the other part of your question. As a student, I've had many different instructors, and each had strengths and weaknesses. I know that a couple of them had accounting degrees, one had a general business degree, and one was still in school. None of this made any difference to me.

What I liked as a student was
(1) ability to explain things in different ways if I didn't understand the first one,
(2) willingness to LISTEN TO WHAT I WAS ASKING (Sorry for the all caps, but I have one instructor who hears what she wants to hear and then goes off on a lecture that's completely unrelated to what I asked),
(3) ability to get inside the horse's head (figuratively, obviously) and help me understand why it's doing what it's doing, coupled with
(4) ability to change the lesson plan if things aren't going well.

I am not sure that the teacher having had a long amount of riding time necessarily means anything. We all know that there are people who can ride all the time but never actually LEARN, and certainly never be able to TEACH. All things being equal, yes, someone who has more horse experience is better than someone who doesn't, but I'd rather have someone who understand what they are doing, even if they've only been riding a few years.
I love those 4 points and I have written them down in the 'goal journal!' Those are the kinds of things that I really want to be able to provide to my students, if I ever get there. Just being able to go with the flow and change things up, rather than getting stuck on a specific teaching method and yelling something like "half halt!" over and over again, driving that frustration into the spotlight. When I did take lessons, the teacher's frustration was evident when they'd keep trying to get my hands in position the same way, over and over again, resulting in an hour of walking not-so-correctly on the rail and both of us totally discouraged and disenchanted with one another.

Physical or Occuplational therapy will be excellent areas to pursue. It can be competitive to get into programs for these degrees.
You will need some source of regular income if you want to create a teaching facility and barn.
Why don't you start taking lessons now, observing things and making notes of what you like and what you would change.
The physical therapy and occupational therapy degrees are competitive, you mean? Is this driven by the job demand in the health field? I am working on the lesson barn, aiming for a place that teaches and also trains horses on site, in order to try to learn as much as possible! Thank you.

It depends on how you want to reach your goals. To be able to buy a barn to own and run lesson programs out of it would cost a lot of money. So you would need a career that would allow you to do that - are you looking for a full time career, but that also has skills relatable to running a boarding barn?

If you are just looking to teach lessons, you can do that at any barn and I'd be looking at getting lots of experience riding.

My current instructor I believe has her certification. But what matters to me most is the experience and whether or not I like the person. If I walk away from a lesson feeling frustrated and I'm not having fun, then what is the point? At the same time I want my instructor to push me out of my comfort zone when needed. I feel I have a good match with my current teacher. She answers all my questions and I have been very happy with the progress we have made.

If it were me, I would get a job in the trades (such as electric, welding, etc). These skills can have high paying opportunities as a career, but they can also be applied in your every day life. In addition, you can trade your skill for someone else's if you ever need help with something. If there is anything I have learned - having your own property (especially farm property) requires a lot of maintenance. And having the skills necessary to fix things and address problems can be very helpful. We have a small acreage and I can't even tell you how much time is spent fixing equipment or addressing maintenance issues.
The ultimate goal is to buy and own my own barn, but this is something of a 20 or even 30 year goal. For the mean time, simply becoming an instructor would be the first step. I really like the idea of considering a trade as well, being able to service my own equipment would be an added bonus and a way to save on the expense for sure!


I do want to add that for the last several years, I've been pursuing a career outside of horses. I am mid-twenties, it is a good job, but it is also very unfulfilling. I haven't known "what I want to be when I grow up," for the longest time. I have always loved horses and wanted more involvement with them. It wasn't until I recently toured a lesson barn and got to witness a summer camp program in action. One of the gals was mounted and expressing her fear to her instructor. They weren't doing anything crazy, simply stepping over ground poles at a walk. She was scared, nonetheless. So, the instructor had her assistants mind the other camp horses and she led the girl over the poles, one step at a time. The look of accomplishment and pride that overcame this young gal was infectious. Such a small thing when it comes to horses, but such a big personal goal that she was able to do. She got over the pole, and over her fear. It made me realize that I really want to help facilitate that one day. To see people break past their comfort zone and move on to the next challenge. Really make a positive impact on people. When that young gal asked a question that I knew the answer to, I had chills and instantly realized that *this is where I want to be* one day.

My career otherwise is stable, well, depending on COVID. Like everyone, we're waiting for September and a final verdict on just what will happen to our jobs, which is what makes this such a good opportunity to start exploring options. For once, though, I think I have an idea of where to go. It's now a matter of learning as much as possible, and figuring out how to proceed. But, I am by no means simply going to quit and pray that the money decides to finally grow on trees!
 

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It's interesting that Canada has instructor certifications! I'm not surprised, as I said before, you're providing an education to a paying patron. It's more surprising to me that there isn't a requirement similar in the United States. Anyone can teach here. Whether they know how to ride or not! They can also train, whether they've seen a horse or not in person. A lot of it relies on the buyer being aware. I would definitely want to know that the person on the ground at the very least can do CPR and will have a clue what to do if I fall off. Which is ultimately, what I'm trying to get myself to! Thank you.
Anyone can teach/train here too, but it is optional to get certified, which lowers your insurance. At the end of the day, it is something that helps build those good habits/skills that an instructor should have and they go over safety + ethic protocols as well. I think I heard somewhere that the U.S. has something similar too. Maybe someone here can give some input on that.

A quick rundown of the process in Canada is that you shadow a certified instructor, get CPR certification, take ethics course + any additional instructors/coach building courses, and pass rider level 6. Equine Canada Rider level 6 includes a flat riding phase and jumping riding phase that are evaluated, then an oral theory exam, a written theory exam and an evaluation on lunging correctly. Then once you have the prerequisites, you apply for an instructors/coach evaluation, where the committee will give you a lesson topic. You have some time to write the lesson plan and submit. The committee will either accept it or ask you to revise it. Then once everything is set, you go to the evaluation with lesson plans and teach a 15 min group mounted flat lesson, jumping lesson, and unmounted lesson.

It definitely weeds out many of the 'yahoos' for those who know what to look for, but there are still many backyard trainers/instructors out there that are good at attracting clients. There are also some fantastic trainers/instructors that just don't bother with it due to the extra expense and time commitment involved.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Anyone can teach/train here too, but it is optional to get certified, which lowers your insurance. At the end of the day, it is something that helps build those good habits/skills that an instructor should have and they go over safety + ethic protocols as well. I think I heard somewhere that the U.S. has something similar too. Maybe someone here can give some input on that.

A quick rundown of the process in Canada is that you shadow a certified instructor, get CPR certification, take ethics course + any additional instructors/coach building courses, and pass rider level 6. Equine Canada Rider level 6 includes a flat riding phase and jumping riding phase that are evaluated, then an oral theory exam, a written theory exam and an evaluation on lunging correctly. Then once you have the prerequisites, you apply for an instructors/coach evaluation, where the committee will give you a lesson topic. You have some time to write the lesson plan and submit. The committee will either accept it or ask you to revise it. Then once everything is set, you go to the evaluation with lesson plans and teach a 15 min group mounted flat lesson, jumping lesson, and unmounted lesson.

It definitely weeds out many of the 'yahoos' for those who know what to look for, but there are still many backyard trainers/instructors out there that are good at attracting clients. There are also some fantastic trainers/instructors that just don't bother with it due to the extra expense and time commitment involved.
Thank you for the insight! I certainly don't mean to knock the backyard teacher, but I have heard a lot of horror stories. I never had much luck myself. I like the idea of a certification, but maybe that is the expectation I have just because almost all things require that little piece of paper. I will be very interested to hear about any similar protocols available in the US!
 

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There are several groups that certify. ARIA is one I have seen referred to more so than any of the others except USEA. But since that is my child's discipline not surprising. I don't know anything about ARIA except it has three levels as well as specialty certification and does reduce your insurance. There aren't any national standards like in other countries.
 

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My question to you all is, when looking for instructors, do you also look for formal education? Or would you rather hope for a good teacher and prefer the longer period of time spent in saddle?

When I look for an instructor I want:

-Success in competition/list of credentials. Now, competition isn't everything, but this is telling me that you went to a a show and rode in front of a certified judge and they gave their professional opinion. It's not just you saying "Oh yes, I'm all that and a bag of chips!" I can physically look up your scores too, which is helpful to make sure you are what you say you are and have done the riding and tests you advertise you did.



-To see you ride. Do I like the way you ride? Do you ride harmoniously? My riding goal is X. Can you ride to X or beyond?



-To see who your mentor/trainer is. Do I like their teaching? Do I respect their horsemanship?


-Students that are successful under your instruction.


-Happy horses that perform well because you are sensitive to their needs.


From my experience, I went through the Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA) instructor course. It focuses a lot on safety, which is wonderful! It gives you literature, lesson plans and helps you with general riding in both Western and English disciplines. There is also a lot of Therapeutic Riding focus too. For me, I chose a different discipline and faded away from teaching, so the certification was no longer necessary. This may be something for you to look into.



I would figure out your base clientele. I'm a dressage person, so what I look for is probably waaaayy different than the pleasure rider or Hunter Jumper, so as always, take what I say with a grain of salt. I wish you well on your endeavor.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thank you both for your input. I will definitely be looking into the ARIA credentials. I'd imagine anything to help with the cost of insurance is a good way to go!
@Palfrey your insight is tremendously helpful! Not solely as a (hopeful) instructor in the future, but as someone looking for instruction currently. You bring a lot of valid points up, and in different ways than I would have considered! They will definitely be added to the list, and I think good things to strive for. (Like having a show record to use as a sort of 'work experience' part of the 'resume' if you will.)

Like I said, this is absolutely a long term goal and I don't expect anything to happen overnight, but I do think all of this input has been extremely helpful in finding areas to focus on and start building knowledge in. Thank you!!
 
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