Choosing a riding instructor for your child can be easy, thanks to reliable accrediting organizations.
Many kids’ horse lives start at home, with basic handling and riding lessons from parents, grandparents, or another relative. But getting your young rider under the instruction of a reliable, trustworthy professional can really help his or her horsemanship start to soar, not to mention ease any tension that might be caused by you coaching your own kids. It can also help your child realize new goals, find new interests with horses, and push him or her to take things to the next level. Thanks to industry-wide organizations, finding the right fit might be easier than you expect.
Here are a handful of resources to use when looking for the perfect instructor for your budding rider. Also, don’t forget to tap your own local horse network to make a final decision based on experience with trusted friends.
Certified Horsemanship Association
Quick Link: Learn more at cha.horse.
What They Offer: The Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA) is a nonprofit that certifies equine professionals; accredits equine facilities; and provides numerous resources, such as program standards, horsemanship manuals, and educational resources. CHA’s No. 1 priority is safety—they encourage safety to be the top priority in every interaction with a horse. So, if you’re newer to the horse industry and looking for a professional, this could be a great place to start for your beginner rider. On the website, go to the Find CHA Certified Professionals menu, and begin your search.
Pro Tip: The website also has numerous educational videos and webinars that can help you learn more about CHA members and their skills.
Read more: Which Youth Riding Team is Right?
Professional Breed and Sport Associations
Quick Link: Learn more at aqha.com, apha.com, nrha.com, etc.
What They Offer: Professionals’ groups that are part of breed and discipline associations are great resources for finding reputable trainers near you. Each group has its own criteria, from being nominated by a current member to achieving accreditation from an outside source, but almost all require commitment to a shared code of ethics. These groups also often offer opportunities to buy lesson packages to support the overarching association, which means it can be easy and cost-effective to try a new professional in your area.
Pro Tip: Look for profiles that are detailed and complete. This means the trainer is committed to adding customers to his or her roster and to providing good service. Also, the more detailed their information, the better you can tell if they’re a good fit for your child.
Read More: Finding the First Horse
4-H and Other Livestock-Type Groups
Quick Link: Learn more at 4-h.org.
What They Offer: 4-H offers incredible opportunities to learn about leadership, citizenship, volunteerism, and more. When you join a horse project, oftentimes your club will host riding workouts—like group lessons—where young horsemen can learn from a range of experienced riders. Your connections in this group can also help refer you to different professional trainers who might fit your child’s needs and interests.
Pro Tip: The curriculum in 4-H allows your child to learn nearly endless information about horse care, breeds, tack, safety, disciplines, and more, which can open doors for your child’s horse life.