Over the years, on many occasions, I have been asked to certify riding instructors. We have done a number of “instructor” courses over the years, but I have never felt comfortable certifying anyone. I have always felt like certification is something you get from the horse.
Understand that my intent here is only to speak for myself and not others, but it has always seemed that certification courses always seemed to be to be a deception and a commercial exploitation of people by someone pretending to be an expert or by an institution or individual seeking power and this never seemed to have anything to do with the equitation I practice at all.
Expertise and extensive experience does not need to result in acclaiming oneself to be expert. It would seem, rather than claim expertise, that expertise is a quality which seems self evident in working with the horse and that experience, too, brings its own proofs to the situation with a horse. What we should acclaim is the status of being a student and that senior students become such from experience and reflection rather than the blessing of anyone else.
There are students and then there are students. The depth and clarity of the study/work is more important than the amount of time though the amount of time one spends does seem to be a factor, it is not conclusive at all. What seems most important is to learn how to study rather than amassing a bunch of facts.
All senior students and teachers have serious long term students they like and approve of and others that we are less confident of. There are some who I have given written references to that I wish I could take back the reference and some who have never asked for a reference that I would happily give a letter to and never feel sorry I did. It seems to me that competence is not a fixed state of affairs and that many student seem to come into and out of competence over time. This is a part of the process of learning this art.
These are the dilemmas of certifications. A certificate is not the end of an educational process nor should it be viewed as a money maker. It seems that the person who should be certified is the one who has no interest in the certification, but instead, has an interest in the title of student and who actively seeks to improve their learning skills. Teaching eventually is a necessary stage for a student and not an end in itself. One must compile your learning as a student and the best way to distill your experience and knowledge of a lifetime of study is by attempting to teach.
I am closer now to offering certification than ever before and will likely use the online and registered student program to create an instructor training program, but it seems to me that subjective qualities such as kindness and proper focus are more important than know a bunch of facts and yet it is not that facts are unimportant, but still the best degree one can receive in dressage is the consistent ability to bring horses and riders to the upper levels in a good and life affirming way.