Do you dream of becoming a therapeutic riding instructor, using mounted activities to help people improve their mental or physical wellbeing? Are you finding it almost impossible to access this kind of training in the UK? Well, look no further! At With Horses we provide two routes to certification, one accredited by UK Rural Skills and the other via PATH International.
Therapeutic Riding For Mental and Physical Wellbeing UKRS Accredited Instructor Course
What is Therapeutic Riding?
Therapeutic riding instructors use mounted activities to change lives. Utilising the movement, sensory capacities and relaxing properties of the horse, they help people to improve their mental or physical health.
Who can benefit?
Therapeutic riding can help people with their physical abilities, using the movement of the horse and the act of riding to improve balance, dexterity or mobility. It can help people who are neurodivergent or those who have sensory impairments to develop coping strategies. It can also help children, the elderly or people with learning differences to improve their cognition, gain communication skills or regulate their mood and behaviour. Riding can also be used for mental wellbeing, helping people to relax, remain present in the moment and regulate their central nervous system. Many therapeutic riding instructors take a trauma-informed approach, helping people to gain a deep sense of mental wellbeing through the soothing rhythm and sensory opportunities of horse-riding.
Who is this course for?
This course is for people from all walks of life who love horses and want to help people. You may already work with horses as a coach, instructor or therapist and be curious about adding an extra dimension to the services you offer. You may be an experienced horse person who would love to share the joy that you gain from riding with others. You might even work in a totally unrelated field and be looking to change your life with a completely new career. To access this course, you should be over 18 and ideally able to ride at the walk, trot and canter as the onsite elements include some practical elements where trainees practice coaching one another. However, if you are knowledgeable about riding but unable to do so for any reason, then adjustments can be made to ensure you are able to take part. The course is self-paced, so more experienced candidates have the option to fast-track, completing it within a year but those with more to learn can take their time.
How is the training delivered?
Accredited by UK Rural Skills, the course is designed to begin with two introductory distance learning modules that you work through from the comfort of your own home to take the first steps towards your career as an equine assisted professional. The first module, Introduction to Equine Assisted Services gives you an overview of the industry and an introduction to commonly used terminology. Module 2, Equine Advocacy, teaches you how to ensure that the horse is an equal and valued partner in all of your interactions. You can work your way up through each step, studying when you are available, fitting your learning around a busy life, stopping or pausing when necessary. Our distance learning trainers will offer help and support virtually throughout. Working through these online units ensures that everyone is on the same page, has the same knowledge and starts on a level playing field.
Is there any hands-on learning?
Our courses are designed to suit all kinds of learners. As well as theoretical information, they include plenty of hands-on practice! After the 2 online modules, you attend intensive training at our flagship centre in the Scottish Borders (ensuite bed and breakfast accommodation is available at extra cost). The intensive onsite elements give you the chance to consolidate your learning with immersive, hands-on practice and have the opportunity to network with other trainee equine assisted professionals. This includes training from 10am to 4pm for first four and then five consecutive days. This approach is great for international attendees or those with busy lives as they can block the time into their schedule.
First, there is a four day Horsemanship and Coaching Skills course (typically over the course of a long weekend) where you can gain practical equine handling skills, learn the core concepts of coaching and explore how to structure lesson plans and develop horsemanship activities.
Then, the following year- or later that same year for fast-track candidates- you attend a five day Instructor Certification Intensive. Here you hone your coaching skills and complete a minimum of 10 practice hours of therapeutic riding sessions under the support and guidance of an experienced With Horses Certified Instructor. You learn coaching, facilitation and behaviour modification techniques. You get hands on practice in all areas of therapeutic riding including safe mounting and dismounting procedures, adaptive tack, task analysis, contraindications and safety precautions as well as a theoretical grounding in the science of why therapeutic riding is such a successful intervention for a range of client demographics. There are specialty modules on how to structure sessions for children, disabled riders and those with mental health issues.
You then submit your course portfolio for marking and complete a final assessment comprising of an assessed therapeutic riding lesson. Here, you will be given a mock client with a scenario and asked to plan a therapeutic riding session to meet their specific goals. You then teach a 30 minute session in front of an assessor who scores you against standardised criteria. Upon successful completion of the course, you become a therapeutic riding instructor who can coach people with mild to moderate disabilities, mental health or behaviour issues. And we support you every step of the way!
What are the learning objectives?
Understand the different models used to involve equines in learning and therapy.
Describe the differences between adaptive riding, therapeutic riding and hippotherapy.
Demonstrate awareness of the ethical and safety considerations involved when working with equines and vulnerable people.
Detail how to select an appropriate horse for a range of different participants.
Demonstrate a variety of emotional regulation techniques.
Use and select tack and adaptive equipment appropriately.
Critically evaluate teaching strategies and techniques.
Know the various mounting and dismounting procedures.
Know how to assess and screen participants.
Plan, deliver and evaluate therapeutic riding lessons.
Analyse and evaluate a variety of learning and evaluation tools.
Demonstrate person centred practice and equine advocacy.
Successful completion of both Introduction to Equine Assisted Services and Equine Advocacy online courses.
Attend all 9 Days Intensive Onsite Training.
Submission of portfolio.
Coach one 30 minute practice assessment at the Certification Intensive.
Sign With Horses Code of Ethics
Includes Required Reading and active participation during training.
Participants should ideally be secure and confident riders at the walk, trot, and canter.
Support Post Certification
Free supervision for the first year.
Ongoing CPD opportunities with discounts for With Horses Certified Practitioner including monthly training webinars.
Our range of tried and tested Equine Assisted Learning Curricula
The opportunity to become an Approved provider.
Our online hub with videos, downloads, how-to guides and educational resources available to purchase.
Internships available annually giving you the chance to keep your skills sharp by working alongside real participants and experienced therapy horses.
Options for Career Progression
Upon successful completion of this course, which gives you a comprehensive overview of all areas that a therapeutic riding instructor can work in, you can opt to specialise further. If you decide that you love working with riders with disabilities, you can go on to gain an additional, internationally recognised Therapeutic Riding Instructor certification from PATH International via our instructor mentoring scheme. Alternatively, you can attend a Train the Trainer course with us and become an approved provider of one of or three ridden therapy programs which include:
-the Overcoming Obstacles Program for adults who have experienced relational trauma
-the Horseplay program for children who have experienced developmental trauma
-the Riding for Wellbeing program which helps people of all ages with their general mental health
Why train with us?
This course is delivered exclusively by With Horses and is available nowhere else in the UK. It is accredited by UK Rural Skills, a professional body that raises rural training standards by offering quality assured, accredited courses, ensuring you get the very best quality training and nationally, industry-recognised, UKRS certification.
We have in-depth knowledge of not only how the equine assisted industry operates in the United Kingdom but also in the USA and Europe. We have trained and mentored several hundred equine assisted learning and therapeutic riding professionals from across the UK and as far away as Sweden and Germany. As well as having the benefit of more than 5000 hours of practice with clients with a wide range of needs and abilities, our training director Lindsey Crosbie has 20 years' of experience as a riding instructor, working with both able-bodied and disabled clients of all ages and abilities in the UK and USA. She is a Professional Association for Therapeutic Horsemanship International certified therapeutic riding instructor and the only instructor in Europe to hold Hooves for the Heart certification that enables her to use horse riding as a means of addressing trauma. She has been independently assessed and examined by the Certification Board for Equine Interaction Professionals. The Certification Board for Equine Interaction Professionals (CBEIP) promotes independent certification for professionals who incorporate equines into their therapy or education/coaching practice. The purpose of the Board is to promote the delivery of safe and effective services by formally recognising professionals and measuring the level of knowledge required for this certification. She is also a certified equine behaviourist, enabling her to ensure that horses and humans work in equal partnership for mutual benefit during all training sessions.
With Horses is uniquely placed to both train and provide ongoing support and supervision to equine assisted learning practitioners through our network of practitioners, practitioner retreats, CPD opportunities and online hub. We have a range of tried and tested equine assisted curricula available to all of our practitioners that have been developed through hours of hands-on practice with real clients. Many organisations providing training in this field 'talk the talk' but do not have the practical experience to provide thoughtful, thorough and in-depth training courses that equip practitioners to work successfully in the real world. At With Horses, we don't just talk the talk, we have walked the walk and now we want you to benefit from our experience!
What is the investment?
In terms of time, our professional training pathway usually takes two years to complete but those who have relevant experience or qualifications can choose to fast track, completing the course in one year.
The complete Therapeutic Riding Instructor Course normally costs £1500 per person inclusive of online distance learning courses, course manual and all other course materials. For a limited time, we are offering a 30% discount on bookings. However, if you would prefer to break the course costs down into manageable chunks, modules can be booked one at a time, allowing you to spread the cost. Ensuite bed and breakfast accommodation for the onsite residential intensives at our centre in the Scottish Borders is available at extra cost.
For dates, venues and details of all upcoming trainings, please visit the 'Courses' section of our website. The page is regularly updated with new certification, CPD and introductory courses being added to onsite and online provision throughout the year.