Strong riding ability and horsemanship skills are necessary to become a horse riding instructor. A love of horses is also important, as working with them can involve long hours of hands-on labor in all kinds of weather. Many people who become instructors have been around horses and ridden for much of their lives and fall into teaching naturally. Other people actively pursue riding and horse expertise. They may enter the field as working students or apprentices and learn through on-the-job training.
Generally, a college education is not required to become a horse riding instructor, but it can fill in gaps in knowledge. Combined with the requisite horse expertise, a degree may also make a person wishing to become a horse riding instructor more attractive to employers. Degrees in equine studies, with focuses in riding and riding instruction, are available at many colleges and universities. Classes in marketing and business can also be helpful, especially if pursuing self-employment as a riding instructor.
Professional teaching certification may or may not be required to become a horse riding instructor, depending upon the country. In some countries it can be difficult to find employment as a riding instructor without professional certification. In other countries, certification may be a plus, helping to enhance marketing efforts, for example, but it is not required.
Good communication, people skills, and teaching skills are important when wanting to become a horse riding instructor. Having patience will be of benefit when working with horses, beginning riders, and even riders of all levels. Horse sports can be dangerous, so a strong safety mindset is important when wanting to become a horse riding instructor.
Riding instructors work at riding schools and show barns, guest ranches, children's summer camps, and elsewhere. Some riding instructors are employees of a particular facility. Others are self-employed and may travel from stable to stable to teach. Instructors may teach different riding styles or focus on one style. Riding styles include dressage, hunter seat equitation, Western reining, and others.
Horse riding instructors often perform other horse-related jobs in addition to teaching. This may be at the request of the employer or, for self-employed horse riding instructors, it may be a necessity to make ends meet. Some of the other jobs a horse riding instructor might perform include training and exercising horses, managing the stable, and grooming. They may also show horses in competitions for their clients and buy and sell horses. Overall, well-rounded knowledge about horses and riding is important to become a successful horse riding instructor.