Trainer Certification Program

USHJA Instructor Credential

The USHJA Instructor Credential was developed to offer a comprehensive educational program for riding instructors. The credential offers both a comprehensive online education as well as an in-person workshop and examination.

Online coursework includes expanded content in athlete wellness and safety, sports psychology, stable management, riding theory, learning styles, and teaching methodologies that preserve the American Hunter/Jumper Forward Riding System.

At the workshop, candidates observe, learn, practice and collaborate on teaching and coaching techniques and methods. During the live examination, candidates are tested on their teaching skills and provided individualized feedback. Upon successful completion of all prerequisite online courses, the workshop, and passing score during the live examination, candidates are awarded the status of USHJA Credentialed Instructor.


Registration for the USHJA Instructor Credential is available to individuals who are: 

  • USHJA members in good standing above the Outreach level
  • Age 18 years or above

Online Coursework

Individuals who meet the prerequisites must complete an online registration form and submit a $50 fee to be recognized as an Instructor Credential candidate and are then granted access to the Instructor Credential Library of online courses. 

Completion of the online courses is at the candidate’s discretion but must be completed and up-to-date before registering for the Instructor Credential Live Workshop and Examination. Required courses include:

  • Athlete Wellness
  • USEF Rules
  • Business and Marketing
  • Equine Law and Ethics
  • Teaching and Coaching
  • Lesson Program Best Practices
  • Riding Theory
  • Stable Management
  • Concussion Awareness
  • Safe Sport

Course delivery is comprised of reading material, videos, webinars and PowerPoint presentations. Each course will end with a short quiz that will require a passing score of 80%. Quizzes may be taken as many times as needed to achieve a passing score. (It is important to note that PC and phone devices may automatically block pop ups. Disable any pop-up blockers to gain access to the courses.) There is no set timeframe for completion of the online courses. If previously completed online courses are refreshed with new content prior to attending the Workshop and Examination, they will be marked "incomplete" and candidates will be required to repeat the course before attending the exam.

Candidate Experience Form

Candidates must show proof of experience teaching at least 40 hours of mounted and/or unmounted lessons. The submission form is accessible via the Credential dashboard once all required coursework is completed. Staff will contact listed witnesses to verify experience and upon confirmation, candidates are eligible to register for an in-person Instructor Credential Live Workshop and Examination. TCP Trainers are exempt from this requirement. 

Instructor Credential Live Workshop and Examination Registration Requirements

  • Completion of all courses within the Instructor Credential Library.
  • Submission of the Candidate Experience Form. Current TCP Certified Trainers are exempt from this requirement.
  • Submission of a background check within six months of participation in the Workshop and Live Examination.
  • Enrollment in an upcoming Live Workshop and Examination and submission of the $450 session fee. 
    • TCP Certified Trainers in good standing are eligible for a 50% discount for participation in the new credential. 
    • If a candidate is unable to attend the two-day Workshop and Examination in which they are enrolled and notifies USHJA of withdrawal in writing at least fourteen days prior to the start of the session, 50% of the session fee will be refunded less a $25 processing fee. If a participant withdraws from the two-day Workshop and Examination with less than fourteen days’ notice, the clinic fee is non-refundable.

Grant Opportunities
To support members in their pursuit of personal and professional goals, the USHJA is pleased to offer grants to eligible USHJA Instructor Credential participants who complete the online coursework and attend a Live Workshop and Examination. Click here for more information about this year's zone grants and click here for information about the Naomi Blumenthal Memorial Training Grant or to apply!

Workshop and Live Examination

The Workshop is a one-day clinic where candidates practice their teaching skills in a group setting encouraging peer review and collaboration. Candidates are not required to ride but will teach both unmounted and mounted lessons to volunteer riders. Examiners will oversee the lessons and provide guidance throughout the day. Workshop activities are not scored, but areas such as safety, horsemanship and professionalism are considered when scoring the exam.

Live Examination
On day two, the Examination, each candidate is assigned one or two riders and required to develop an appropriate lesson plan and execute two lessons; one beginner flat and one novice over fences. Examiners score the candidate using a standardized rubric, provide thoughtful and beneficial feedback to the lesson's strengths and weaknesses, and share recommendations for improvement and growth as an instructor. Candidates must earn an average score of 75% on their examination to be eligible for the credential.

Post Examination
Instructor Credential candidates are notified of the outcome within 30 days of examination completion. Upon successful completion of the examination, the candidate will be awarded the USHJA Instructor Credential.

In the event a candidate is unsuccessful in any aspect of the examination, they may be eligible for remediation. Remediation processes are developed at the discretion and direction of the live session examiners based on the candidate’s individual need for further demonstration of competency or skillset development. Remediation will be identified based on the examiner’s scoring rubric and in collaboration with both examiners, USHJA staff, and potentially the candidate themselves. The candidate will receive an individualized assignment and deadline for completion as an opportunity to achieve a passing score. If remediation efforts remain unsuccessful, the candidate will not be awarded the Instructor Credential and will be eligible for continuing education and to attend another Workshop and Examination, if they choose. Candidates will be required to pay any standard fees for reassessment.