Coaching for Parents and Athletes – What is a Coach and why do I need one?

Coaches play a critical role in shaping the sport experience and lives of sport participants. Inherently, Coaches are in a position of trust and authority, play an important role in the development of sport participants and ultimately shape lives in the process.

Coaches have a duty of care for the individuals they coach. The Coach-athlete relationship is a privileged one and plays a critical role in the personal, sport and athletic development of the athlete. Coaches must understand and respect the inherent power imbalance that exists in this relationship and must be extremely careful not to abuse it, consciously or unconsciously.

As the governing body for equestrian sport and the equine industry in Canada, Equestrian Canada’s (EC) mission, core values and Code of Conduct and Ethics clearly identify the importance of upholding the highest standards of ethical practices and sportsmanship in all areas of activity, including the activity of Coaches.

As such, it is critical that EC and its affiliate organizations take steps to ensure that Coaches receive training and support to be able to uphold these values and model them to new participants, while also having mechanisms to hold those who do not uphold these values accountable.

EC’s vision is for every equestrian Coach in Canada to be licensed and certified by 2025. This guide provides a framework for the programs and services that will aid in achieving this vision.

I ride for recreation only and mostly trail ride, why do I need a certified coach?

Horseback riding is a skill. The best way to develop that skill is to work with an Instructor or Coach who is trained to help you develop as a rider and understand horsemanship and horse care. Receiving a good foundation of riding abilities will make your experience with horses safer and more enjoyable. Taking lessons with a EC Certified Instructor or Coach is a great way to ensure that you know not only how to ride, but can also confidently take that knowledge to ride alone or in groups on trails or around an arena.

Equestrian Canada offers certification for Western, English, Driving and recognizes Therapeutic coaches and Vault Coaches.

What is an Instructor (English, Western, Drive)

The certified Instructor provides equestrians with an introduction to driving and/or riding in a fun and safe environment. Instructors cater to the beginner equestrian, rather than the competitive equestrian, they do not take students to Equestrian Canada (EC) sanctioned competitions. The Instructor focuses on the following needs of their student: learning basic skills, developing confidence and self-esteem, and promote the enjoyment of equestrian sport. The Instructor teaches the skills aligned with the Long-Term Equestrian Development stages: Fundamentals and Learn to Ride.

The Instructor stresses safety, welfare of the horse, horsemanship, a positive attitude and the development of teaching skills. Candidates will bring their own teaching experiences to the program, and will exhibit patience while working with both horses and people. As safety is of the utmost importance, safe practices should be stressed, and taught by example including dress, harness, stable management, vehicles and road safety.

What is a Competition Coach (English, Western)

The Competition Coach provides athletes with an introduction to entry-level competition in a fun, safe and welcoming environment. The Competition Coach designs developmentally appropriate programs for LTED stages Learn to Train, Train to Train and Learn to Compete with no discipline specialization.

What is a Competition Coach Specialist (English: Dressage, Jump and Eventing, Western: Speed Events, General Performance, Reining)

The Competition Coach Specialist provides athletes with an introduction to entry-level competition in a fun, safe and welcoming environment with advanced specialized skill. The Competition Coach Specialist designs developmentally appropriate programs for LTED stages Learn to Compete, Train to Compete and Learn to Win with discipline specialization. Candidates will specialize in one discipline within the appropriate discipline family (English or Western); however, they are expected to hold general knowledge of all English or Western disciplines within that family context.

Why is certification important?

Equestrian Canada has developed Equestrian Instructor and Coach certifications that are Nationally administered and recognized by many countries through the International Group of Equestrian Qualifications. While there are many good uncertified coaches available, EC Certification adds a level of confidence that your chosen coach meets a set criterion.

By making sure that your coach or instructor is certified, you are confirming that:

  • They have met a National Standard as set by industry leaders and coaching professionals
  • These standards are in line with the National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) who oversee the program for Equestrian and 60+ other Sports
  • They have undergone testing to prove that they capable of teaching and have met the industry standard
  • They have been screened by EC and HCBC and have on file Criminal Record Searches with Vulnerable sectors, First Aid Training, references, insurance, Safe Sport Training and Concussion Training.
  • They have signed and are obliged to follow EC’s Code of Conduct and Ethics
  • They are required to continually update their skills in order to renew their certification

Should my coach be insured?

Yes, they should carry Coaching insurance and be able to supply proof that they are insured.

What does “current status mean?

Current status means that the coach has kept all of their requirements up to date, such as memberships, first Aid, Professional Development, and Criminal Record searches and this is reflected in their Provincial Coach file.

National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP)

The NCCP is a competency-based coach training and certification program for 65 different sports and is offered in both official languages across Canada. The NCCP curriculum is designed and delivered in partnership with the Government of Canada, 65 National Sport Organizations (NSOs), 13 Provincial/Territorial Coaching Representatives (PTCRs), and the Coaching Association of Canada™ (CAC).

As the National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) partner for equestrian sport and activity, EC is responsible for leading program development, establishing minimum standards and ensuring consistent and effective delivery across Canada in partnership with PTSOs

What is Licensed Coach Status and Registered Coach Status

Equestrian Canada (EC) is implementing revised measures to the initial Coach Licence based on community feedback to create a safe, welcoming and inclusive equestrian experience for all the sport’s participants. Inspired by and in cooperation with the federal government’s Safe Sport initiative, our new Coach Status Program is designed to provide our coaches with the training and screening they need to elevate Canada’s equestrian experience and make it safer for all involved.

What Led to the Coach Status Program

While we treasure the traditions we share as equestrians, we’re also eager to bring the sport in line with current standards and the values that help define us as Canadians. We are approaching the new Coach Statuses with a restored attitude of confidence and positivity to embrace change and reach a higher level of excellence for Canadian equestrianism.

In 2018, the Minister of Science and Sport introduced Safe Sport, which included measures to address harassment, abuse and discrimination in sport. Our new Coach Status Program works hand-in-hand with this initiative, ensuring that Canadian equestrian sport meets all safety and quality screening measures to create the safest environment for coaches, athletes and families. These measures include third party complaint management and Safe Sport training, which equips coaches with the tools they need to empower athletes while promoting their physical and mental well-being, and more.

The Important Role Coaches Play

Across our country, coaches play a pivotal role in the foundation of equestrian sport. They are tasked with teaching sound methods and techniques while also fostering relationships that help shape the identity we all share. These are significant responsibilities, especially when it involves equestrians that are new to the sport. We’ve designed the new program to ensure that, throughout the Canadian equestrian community, coaches can meet this challenge with the utmost professionalism and care. Although the new Coach Statuses are paving the way, the evolution of safety in our sport will only occur when the entire community commits to the same mission.

About the Coach Status Program

With the new program, coaches can apply for one of two statuses:

  • Registered Coach Status: This status recognizes self-declared coaches and instructors, including those working towards a Coach Certification and those new to equestrian instruction who will work alongside an experienced coach. This status can also be selected by those with formal training or extensive experience until the Licensed Coach Status becomes mandatory.
  • Licensed Coach Status: This status recognizes coaches with verified expertise, either through formal certification, education or validated practical experience. Applicants should be actively engaged in equestrian instruction and coaching.

Holding one of these Coach Statuses means EC has verified that the coach meets all necessary safety screening and training requirements. Applicants for either status must provide proof of valid coaching insurance for a minimum of $2,000,000 Corporate General Liability and $100,000 Professional Liability.