University of Vermont AAHS


AAHS Riding Instructor Certification Clinics

AAHS conducts group and individual safety certification clinics for riding instructors, camp personnel and others interested in horsemanship safety. The clinics are 40 hours long and usually taught over a four-day or five-day period. They are taught by a AAHS Clinician from a standardized curriculum. Emphasis is upon legal liabilities, horsemanship skills, safety and emergency procedures, and assuring safety of riders quickly by teaching a balanced seat to beginners through use of the Secure Seat(sm) method.

AAHS Instructor Certification

Certified instructors have successfully completed a 40-hour intensive training program. To qualify for the program, instructors must pass a basic mounted test that demonstrates the ability to perform at the walk, trot and lope/canter; changes of lead; halt; and back. Before full certification, those who have successfully completed a clinic must show proof of CPR/first-aid training.

Certificates are granted based on levels of achievement. Not all levels require experienced horsemanship. Attendance at a clinic is recommended for camp, ranch and stable administrative employees as well. AAHS believes that each program should have at least one permanent employee who has been through the safety training so that he or she can better evaluate seasonal employees. This person need not be a rider.

Types of Certifications

Safety-Certified Riding Instructor
Is able to teach the basics correctly to beginner through advanced riders. Is at least 21 years old.
Safety-Certified Riding Instructor--Basic
Is able to teach the basics correctly to beginner and intermediate riders. Is at least 18 years old.
Safety-Certified Assistant Riding Instructor
Must teach under the direct supervision of a Safety-Certified Riding Instructor. Must be at least 18 years old.
Equestrian Safety Supervisor
Knows ground safety and has supervisory capabilities but not riding expertise. Is at least 18 years old.
Safety-Certified Trail Guide
Is competent in pre-ride instruction, has superior judgment and has considerable cross-country riding experience and an understanding of the hazards of rough-terrain riding in various climates. Is at least 18 years old.
 Safety Clinic Participant
Has demonstrated an intense interest and respect for horsemanship safety by participating in a 40-hour clinic.

In addition to participating in a 40-hour clinic and passing the written examination, a candidate must show current certification in CPR/first aid for full certification.   Restricted certificates are awarded to candidates who have not shown CPR/first aid training; when evidence of such training is presented, full certificates are issued without additional charge.

Group Clinics

Most group clinics are held at equestrian summer camps and are held during May and early June, just prior to the camping season. Call 512-488-2220 or look on our web page for the schedule. Participation in camp clinics is open to everyone.

Group clinics can be scheduled in any suitable host facility any time of the year if there is sufficient local interest. Call 512-488-2220 to discuss the possibility of a group clinic at a facility in your area.

Group clinic fees vary depending upon the host camp or stables but ordinarily will not exceed $500 (including room and board). In addition, AAHS charges a $50 certification fee and a $25 fee for clinic materials.

For information on currently scheduled group clinics go to Group Clinics.


Individualized Clinics

Individualized certification clinics are held year round at the convenience of the student and clinician at Rocky River Ranch in Wimberley, Texas (between Austin and San Antonio). Call AAHS Clinician Mary Nelson at 512-847-6994 after 7 pm.

Fees for individualized clinics vary depending upon location, time of year and number of participants.  In addition to the clinic fee, there is a charge per participant of  $50 for certification and  $25 for  materials.

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