I finally made it. It started one year ago this month. I volunteered at a Therapuetic Riding Center in Concord, NC and become hooked. After that 8 week volunteer stretch, I decided that I had found my niche in life. I loved teaching riding anyway, but teaching people with disabilities was the most rewarding thing I had done since becoming a new mother 27 years ago. So, I made the committment to study, take the tests, and student teach in order to get my certification.
It was a long process, and at times I became very frustrated trying to juggle that with my own riding business and lessons for myself, but I made it. I just came back from 4 wonderful days in Ocala, FL at the Marion Therapuetic Riding Association where I attended a four day workshop and certification program. Two and half days of classroom and hands on experience learning about disabilities, adaptive equipment, safety in teaching, plus a day and half certification in riding skills and teaching a 20 minute class to students with disabilities was enough to wear my nerves to a frazzle. I was second in line for my evaluation to see if I had passed. I have never seen 15 minutes pass so slowly while waiting for them to call me in next. I just new I had blown the riding test, because I got so nervous I forgot the riding pattern. But the test wasn’t about the pattern, but about my riding abilities. So I passed!
Then on top of that a biggie, and I mean a very biggie is remembering to close the gate after the riders enter the ring. On the role playing part where I taught, I FORGOT to close the gate. In a real situation that could have been disasterous. And had I done that during my certification while teaching actual students I would have failed. But I remembered to close the gate, however, in reverse, while they were bringing the horse up to the ramp for mounting, I FORGOT to have them OPEN the gate during the actual evaluation. But this did not count against me because I remembered before I have the student mount, so all was safe. Anyway, you had to be there to understand how important this is in the certification process.
The important thing it, I PASSED! And I am very proud to be a Registered Riding Instructor for NARHA. Now this simply means that I can work at a center teaching people with disabilites to ride. Eventually, I may open my own center, but that is a long way down the road. My next step is to work toward my Advanced Certification. This is a lot harder, requires more teaching hours, 120, and a lot more knowlege of disabilites and their relationship to riding. This may take me a couple of years to achieve.
Thankfully, I had three wonderful, and I mean really wonderful evaluators. One was the Advanced Riding Instructor at the MTRA center in Ocala, FL, Kate Robbins. She did an excellent job as host of the workshop and was extremely helpful in telling us the things we needed to know about the center while we were there and provided breakfast and lunch for us everyday. Thank you again, Kate. The other two were Lily Kellogg and Gail Pace from Texas. They were just as wonderful at putting us at ease, answered all our questions, made sure we did not miss anything and were very forthcoming on constructive criticism and how to do things properly, safely and professionally. Wonderful ladies, I really enjoyed them. They all are great teachers full of compassion for people.
Please look up the NARHA website www.narha.org. You will be amazed at how detailed and involved is this organization.