Types of Certifications

Safety-Certified Full Riding Instructor

  • Must demonstrate independent balanced seat at three gaits and be able to explain aids for each. This rider should be able to ride the horse at all gaits in total harmony, without influencing it in any way.
  • Must be able to demonstrate side-pass or leg yield, stop and rein back with explanation of aids.
  • Must be able to write clear, interrelated lesson plans.
  • Must teach an exemplary practice lesson with appropriate use of assistant.
  • Must be articulate and able to express thoughts clearly.
  • Demonstrates superior safety awareness both in a class and around horses.
  • Must make a 80% on exam including 100% on the Secure Seat skills section.
  • Must be at least 21 years of age.
  • Must have at least three years of professional teaching experience.
  • By the end of the clinic will be able to demonstrate consistently the Secure Seat skills and explain their uses effectively, especially with respect to the 7-7-7.


Safety-Certified Riding Instructor - Basic

  • Is able to walk trot and canter with reasonable security and balance.
  • Shows promise as a rider in that communications with the horse, while possibly unschooled or unclear, are not harsh or overly demanding.
  • By the end of the clinic will have demonstrated an understanding of the Secure Seat skills and is able to demonstrate them all in order and explain their use.
  • Can write interrelated lesson plans.
  • Can teach an organized lesson, with demonstrated ability to manage a class and utilize an assistant.
  • Demonstrates superior safety awareness throughout the clinic both in class and around horses.
  • Must be at least 18 years of age.
  • Must get an 80% on the exam including 100% on the skills section.


Safety-Certified Assistant Instructor or Assistant Trail Guide

The designation of assistant preceding any category of certification indicates that AAHS believes that this person needs additional practice and experience before being completely responsible for mounted riders. Must have passed the exam with a score of at least 70%.


Equestrian Safety Supervisor

This is a non-riding supervisory certification designed for those wishing to be able to evaluate their programs or assist with non-mounted activities. It is especially recommended for camp directors and facility owners who need to know that if they walk through the barn and past the arena, they are seeing what they should see.

  • Must be at least 21 years of age.
  • Has passed the exam with a score of 75%.
  • Has a high understanding of ground safety principles that keep riders from being injured while working around horses and preparing to ride.


Safety-Certified Head Wrangler

  • Must be 21 years of age.
  • Must be able to walk trot and canter with reasonable security and balance.
  • Is able to write a lesson plans suitable for pre-ride instruction.
  • Is competent to design and give pre-ride instruction and pre-ride skills tests.
  • Is aware of the need to evaluate a rider and assign an appropriate horse.
  • Has superior judgment and cross-country riding experience with an understanding of the hazards of rough-terrain riding in various climates.
  • Can discuss basic principles of care and feeding of a trail horse.
  • Must score a 75% on the exam including 100% on the Trail Ride section.
  • May take a shortened clinic that excludes material not related to trail riding, safety barn management and relevant liability issues.


Safety-Certified Trail Guide

  • Must be 18 years of age.
  • Must be able to walk trot and canter with reasonable security and balance.
  • Is competent in pre-ride instruction.
  • Have cross-country riding experience and an understanding of the hazards of rough terrain riding in various climates.
  • Must score a 75% on the exam. Not responsible for the lesson portion of the exam.
  • May take a shortened clinic that excludes material not related to trail riding, safety barn management and relevant liability issues.


Clinic Participant

This participant has demonstrated an intense interest and respect for horsemanship safety by participating in a 40-hour clinic.


Criteria for Re-certification of Instructors

Certification will be valid for 3 years


Re-certification for the same category

Re-certification for the same category can be achieved by performing ONE activity from EACH category below, OR attend another full clinic.

Category A

  • Attend another clinic for the riding and instructing testing portions.
  • Send a video which shows that riding and instructing skills have been maintained.

Category B

  • Attend the final day of a clinic to take the written tests.
  • Call or e-mail the AAHS office to request a copy of the current study guide for the instructor's exam and, when ready, call the AAHS office and ask for the re-certification exam. Take the exam and fill out the accompanying affidavit. 

Once all categories are complete, send in all materials and a check for $50 (re-certification fee) made out to AAHS.


Certification for a Higher Category

Certification for a higher category is not considered “re-certification” but simply certification, which requires another clinic.

  • Instructors should know from their evaluations, why they were certified at their present category.
  • They should have spent time specifically preparing themselves to take the clinic with the hope of attaining a higher certification.
  • In most cases the additional effort needs to be in the area of personal riding skills. Candidates who are in doubt should check with the AAHS office to see what type of preparation is needed to achieve a higher certification.


Criteria for becoming an AAHS Clinician

  • Preferred to be at least 25 years old; must be 21.
  • Must be a multidisciplinary rider who understands that horsemanship is just that. The type of saddle matters little.
  • Must ride to a sophisticated level and be able to easily articulate the skills and explanations related to riding and horsemanship.
  • Must have a solid knowledge of horse care and barn management. This will be tested separately.
  • Must be a AAHS full instructor
    • Passed on the first try, or
    • Passed after significant formal training
  • Must be accepted as a candidate by two clinicians.
  • Must teach first clinic assisting another clinician.
    • May teach as many of these as needed to be comfortable with the format and material.
    • May teach with as many different clinicians as desired.
  • Must teach a clinic assisted by an AAHS clinician.
  • Must be acceptable to all other AAHS actively teaching clinicians.

All clinician candidates should be cautioned of several facts at the beginning.

  • They are being qualified to teach a particular program, the consistency of which is considered vital.
  • All clinicians carry the reputations of all other clinicians on their shoulders. If one looks bad, all look bad because we all should be teaching the same program.
  • Personal safety habits are heavily weighed. Many people do not make it through the clinician program because their personal safety habits are poor. This can apply to ground handling, riding and dealing with customers. It is not likely that one can do it flawlessly one way when teaching unless that is the way it is habitually done.
  • Tests will be given on horse care and barn management. The tests may be written or hands on demonstrations.

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