Sunday, August 2, 2009

American Riding Instructor Certification

I figured I would pass this along, since I've received a lot of questions about my ARIA certification in dressage. For one, I was primarily a western rider for twelve years, and have only truly ridden dressage for four; why did I go after dressage certification first? Well, the answer is simple: dressage applies to everything jumping, western, barrels, reining, trail riding... you name it. Maybe I'm being a little cocky here, but I didn't feel challenged going after western certification, because I knew I would probably be able to get it, but obtaining dressage certification would require me to work a lot harder. So, that's what I did. Plus, I really want to work towards high certification with the United States Dressage Federation.

Here's some more info on ARIA, for anyone else interested. There are several degrees of certification, much like BHS.

What is ARICP?

Established in 1984, the American Riding Instructor Certification Program (ARICP) is a program offered by The American Riding Instructors Association (ARIA) to recognize and certify outstanding teachers of horseback riding who instruct their students in a safe, knowledgeable and professional manner.

Who is it for?

ARICP Certification is meant for the serious, above-average instructor who teaches safely and in a professional, competent manner, with high standards of honesty and integrity. Minimum age and experience requirements apply for each level of certification.

How does the certification procedure work?

ARICP certification is an important aspect of an instructor's career and requires that candidates make it a priority. The certification process is accomplished by evaluating the instructor's qualifications and teaching ability through written and oral testing, and, at Levels II and III, by a video submitted by the candidate. Instructors meeting the standards for a particular level will earn certification at that level. ARICP offers certification to instructors in three levels of experience and in 14 teaching specialties. To ensure that ARICP-Certified Instructors' standards remain high, re-certification is required every 5 years. This also gives the instructor an opportunity to upgrade his/her level of certification and to add new teaching specialties.

Where is the certification testing held, and what is the fee?

The testing is conducted at one-day test centers held throughout the year at different locations around the country. The fee is $595.00. When a group of at least 6 instructors at a single location desire ARICP Certification, special arrangements can be made for testing at their site. It is also possible to test individually by appointment at ARICP's office in Bonita Springs, Florida. The fee for private testing is $795.

What are the advantages of being an ARICP Certified Instructor?

ARICP Certified Instructors have nationally recognized credentials. Their employment prospects are improved. ARICP Certified Instructors are listed in the nationally-distributed ARICP Directory of Certified Riding Instructors and on our Web site.

ARICP Certified Instructors may obtain insurance discounts through several major insurers. ARICP Certified Instructors also receive the quarterly magazine Riding Instructor.

How do I apply for Certification?

Program size is limited, so it is important to apply early in order to assure yourself of a place. You should register at least 30 days in advance. Late registrations will be charged a surcharge for mailing materials overnight. You may register online or mail in a form or call 239-948-3232. You may charge your fee to your Visa, MasterCard, Discover or American Express card.

So, what has my ARIA certification done for me? Well, when working with inexperienced, distanced, and arrogant colleagues, its good to have a certification to back you up. My Saturday lessons are packed, and even my miser boss is giving me more free rein to make decisions (my boss is a subject for a whole different post... maybe a series.) Even though I went from the top of the game, NBHA world finalist, Quarter Horse Congress champion to a lower level dressage rider, I feel like I know more about riding, and teaching, than ever before... and this is just the beginning. I do hope to go for advanced level certification with ARIA in dressage, maybe western too, and possibly jumping. We'll see.

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