Why choose to be accredited?

By Ann Caine, Chair of the CanTRA Accreditation and Standards Committee

Currently 58 CanTRA member programs across Canada offer a safe and knowledgeable environment for children and adults with special needs. In providing riding tuition and equine facilitated groundwork programs, safety is of paramount importance for our students. Becoming a CanTRA member program ensures you are part of a regulated and respected national association.

CanTRA ensures that Therapeutic Riding Instructor certification and program accreditation go hand-in-hand on the journey to excellence. Therefore, accreditation is a requirement of CanTRA program membership.

It is important to note that all levels of CanTRA instructor certification require either riding and/or riding and teaching prerequisites through Equestrian Canada. This partnership provides a solid foundation for credentialing in the discipline of therapeutic riding.

Upon joining CanTRA, member programs receive a comprehensive Resource Manual to assist with navigating the process towards both instructor certification and program accreditation.

Before the pandemic, each new member centre received an accreditation site visit from experienced CanTRA personnel, providing the opportunity for discussion and support. Like so many other organizations during these challenging times, CanTRA has pivoted to “virtual” site visits, which have very effectively connected more members and mentors across the country.

CanTRA member program staff have the opportunity to do their own accreditation “self-evaluation” using a national safety standard checklist, in addition to Zoom conferencing with CanTRA mentors to discuss various areas of their program, ask advice, and obtain answers to their questions.

By completing the forms provided, the applicants take themselves through a process of self-evaluation that helps them review many aspects of their program that they may not have previously considered.

In addition to submitting the completed self-assessment document, the program staff provide a virtual tour of their facility, a number of specifically requested photographs, a site plan sketch, and a videotape of their most senior instructor teaching a group lesson.

CanTRA also offers a national insurance liability policy, which may not be accessed by all member programs. In that case, in order to maintain continuity across the country, those members are required to submit a copy of their individual insurance policy to ensure it is compatible with CanTRA insurance.

Finally, the CanTRA Accreditation and Certification programs provide peace of mind to parents of young children and teens with a wide range of cognitive and physical disabilities as well as to adults with similar diagnoses. Since horse riding is recognized as a risk sport, knowing that students with special needs of all ages are receiving tuition from CanTRA certified instructors offered in CanTRA nationally accredited facilities sets the bar high for a positive, safe, and enjoyable experience.

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