Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Applied Sciences, Technology, and Education

Committee Chair(s)

Brian K. Warnick


Brian K. Warnick


Judy Smith


Karl Hoopes


Lacee Boschetto


The purpose of this mixed-methods study is to analyze the U.S. equine industry’s availability of riding instruction certification options, describe the relationship between professional certification and the self-efficacy of horseback riding instructors in the U.S., and explore the expectations that consumers have of instructors and instructor selection criteria. Two surveys were developed and sent out to instructors and consumers aligned with the research objectives designed to collect information on instructors’ self- perception of self-efficacy after certifying their perceived barriers to receiving certification, and consumers’ selection criteria for instructors. The average certified instructor was extremely satisfied with their decision to pursue certification and achieve certification, and the perception of improvement of self-efficacy for the average certified instructor showed that the respondent believed very strongly that the process of receiving a certification improved their self-efficacy. The top three barriers perceived by instructors to obtaining certification were the expense, time, and geographic inaccessibility to workshops. Consumers seek instructors with high levels of horsemanship skills and soft skills, as well as competition experience in specific disciplines, with certification being the fifth most important out of seven characteristics. The results of this study will help professional organizations, third-party stakeholders, and post-secondary education in the development of programming aimed toward certification acquisition for professional riding instruction.