December 27, 2018
The purpose of today’s PATH Intl. Credentialing Council (PICC) communication is to start describing one of the prerequisites for the PATH Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor (CTRI) application: the riding instruction and communication skills video.
The job task analysis (JTA) data confirmed that the riding experience of PATH Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor candidates should be assessed through prerequisites. The credentialing council stresses that the design of the new process is not meant to imply that personal riding skills are not foundational to being a therapeutic riding instructor. However, riding well, in and of itself, is not a direct assessment of being able to safely and effectively instruct riding skills. Under the current registered instructor certification riding test, assumptions are made that demonstration of riding arena figures in a pattern equates to the ability to teach riding skills. The riding instruction and communication skills prerequisite as the credentialing council has designed it gives a more concise and direct measure of the true abilities required of entry-level certified therapeutic riding instructors as described by the data supplied by current registered instructors in the JTA survey. It has been stated that “you can’t teach what you don’t know.” Therefore, someone without riding experience will, in most cases, be unable to successfully communicate those skills to the volunteer rider in the video.

As a result, both riding experience AND communication will be assessed. The video assessment is designed to get to the heart of what was previously expected to be learned about candidates through the riding demonstration, but in a more direct, efficient and accessible manner. The video prerequisite (in combination with the other required prerequisites and exam) will identify candidates who not only have a solid foundation of riding knowledge, but also good communication skills and instruction skills as desired by employers and participants at centers offering equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT).

Background for the video assessment
The new teaching video is not a new process. Four years ago, in order to provide a reasonable accommodation to candidates who cannot ride due to a documented disability, the PATH Intl. Riding Certification Subcommittee determined that such candidates may instruct an able-bodied rider through the riding pattern in lieu of riding the pattern themselves. In order to evaluate the candidate, the subcommittee developed a rubric by which to score the candidate’s demonstration. This rubric has been in place for four years and has proven to be an appropriate assessment of candidates. Given the proven performance of the rubric, the PICC has adopted the rubric as the basis for the video assessment. The council has worked to further expand this rubric to include assessment of communication skills. This expansion means that PATH Intl. CTRI candidates will be held to a higher expectation for instruction AND communication of riding skills than current PATH Intl. Certified Registered Therapeutic Riding Instructor candidates.

Assessment of the teaching video
To fulfill the teaching video prerequisite, candidates will be assessed on specific instruction and communication components. An overall percentage score will be calculated from sub scores of each component (what constitutes a “passing” percentage score will be determined from the pilot testing analysis). Candidates must meet the passing score to complete the prerequisite requirements and before taking the certification exam. Candidates will have access to the rubric so that they are fully aware of the performance expectations. Candidates will be encouraged to perfect their instruction and communication to produce a polished demonstration in a 10-12 minute video. However, to account for variances in equine strides/speed and arena size, videos up to 20 minutes will be accepted. After processing of their application, candidates will receive a copy of their completed assessment, which they can use as a guide for developing weak areas and/or as support of the skills and competencies they report in their resume when seeking employment. Similarly, center hiring personnel might find the rubric to be a helpful screening tool..

Raising the bar of instruction
The current registered instructor certification test process limits candidates to instruction of only ONE riding skill that matches the abilities of the riders in order to meet the time limit of the teaching demonstration. The new PATH Intl. CTRI instruction and communication video will assess the ability to teach multiple riding skills, including the lope/canter. Being able to instruct and correct a rider as needed at all gaits will ensure a rigorous level of assessment for the instruction of riding. Demonstrating instruction at all gaits gives further evidence that a candidate is capable of assisting a rider and volunteers when downward transitions are more urgently needed after an equine unexpectedly increases speed or changes gaits.

Overall, along with the other certification prerequisites and exam, demonstrating the ability to effectively communicate and instruct riding skills will provide ample assurance that a candidate is equipped to foster a safe and effective therapeutic riding environment.

More communications about this prerequisite will come in the next two months, including the pattern to be instructed, candidate and rider instructions, technical specifications for the video and the assessment rubric, which details candidate performance expectations.

The PATH Intl. Credentialing Council