By Christine Ross, CanTRA Vice President. 

At long last, the therapeutic riding programs in Canada are returning to normal activities following two very difficult years. Riders and volunteers are coming back to take part in therapeutic riding activities. Canadian Therapeutic Riding Association (CanTRA) instructors and coaches have been able to return to work and carry out their jobs.

The training and certification of therapeutic riding instructors in Canada is one of the core programs of CanTRA. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many therapeutic riding programs suspended activities, and others continued to work in a scaled-down fashion. This period deeply affected those training to become therapeutic riding instructors, as the opportunities to gain practical experience were severely limited.

There were a number of candidates who enrolled to do the CanTRA Instructor training in 2019. Many struggled to obtain the necessary experience due to the pandemic. The curriculum for therapeutic riding instructors involves both theoretical and practical components, and it was difficult for candidates to obtain the necessary practical experience to complete their training.

Some aspects of the training can be done by reading books or taking part in webinars, but other aspects require practical training. 

The topics studied by CanTRA Instructor candidates include understanding horse care and management, understanding disabilities, learning about adaptive tack, writing lesson plans, coaching theory, understanding rider progression, and volunteer training. Last but most important is the practicing of teaching riders with special needs under the mentorship of an experienced CanTRA therapeutic riding instructor or coach. This practical experience is invaluable.

“Well done!” to the candidates who have managed to complete their training and assignments and who have gone forward and passed their CanTRA qualifications. It is recognized that this takes lots of hard work and persistence, and has been extra difficult to achieve during the COVID-19 pandemic.

CanTRA is now welcoming new candidates to become therapeutic riding instructors. Becoming a qualified CanTRA instructor is a way forward for safe and enjoyable therapeutic riding in Canada.

Congratulations to the newly qualified CanTRA Instructors from British Columbia, Alberta, and Quebec. CanTRA has seven new Basic Instructors, two new Basic Instructors 2 and one new Intermediate Instructor. 

Jenny Carys Wilson (pictured above)

Newly qualified CanTRA Intermediate Instructor Jenny Clarys Wilson from Canmore, Alberta. 

“I am so proud to become a CanTRA Therapeutic Riding Instructor,” says Wilson. “Every child and every adult has a unique story to bring to the barn and looking at the smiles they have after being around horses is so precious. I am so excited to start my new journey in the world of therapeutic riding.”