The Equestrian Canada (EC) Coaching Program encompasses two programs that work in tandem: the Coach Status Program and EC/NCCP Coach Certification. The Coach Status program is the heart of EC’s commitment to Safe Sport and the Responsible Coaching Movement. It inspires instructors and trainers in equestrian sport to set a national coaching standard that fosters safe, high-quality, and welcoming participant experiences.

The Responsible Coaching Movement (RCM) entails three pillars: Rule of Two, background screening and ethics training that are each designed to help ensure a sports environment that can remain safe and fun for everyone.

Since its inception in December 2020, the Coach Status Program has seen more than 1,546 coaches apply for status and commends the 847 that have obtained Registered or Licensed Status to date.

To share real life experiences of some of these, EC spoke with four Canadians that have achieved their status over the last sixteen months. With the phasing in of formal requirements for coaching at sanctioned events this year, EC hopes to engage coaches across the country with stories from their peers and understand what the program can mean for them. 

Registered CoachesI Am EC: Four Canadian Coaches Share their Experiences with the Coach Status Program

Meet two registered coaches ̶ Erika Metro of Beaver County, AB and Rebecca Cade of Red Deer, AB.

Registered Status is a designation for self-declared coaches or instructors. They are working towards certification and are active in equestrian instruction and coaching. 

Rebecca CadeI Am EC: Four Canadian Coaches Share their Experiences with the Coach Status Program

Equestrian Background:

I’ve had a lifelong passion and love for horses, that started when I was able to ride at a local stable when I was eight years old. I was lucky enough to purchase my first FEI (Fédération Equestre Internationale) horse, my mare Maya, who I spent 23 years with. She was the foundation of my training and coaching program. Together in my career, we were fortunate to work with many top professionals, from Kent Williamson to my current coach, Crystal Kroetch.

I became an EC Recorded Judge in 2012, Basic Judge in 2015 and upgraded to Medium Judge in 2021. This also has allowed me to continue to chase my goal of continuing my education and moving through the system, looking to become a high-performance coach. 

Coaching experience:

My coaching career started when I was asked by two local clubs to come and coach in 2001, one being an adult riding club and other being a pony club. I love giving back to the sport, meeting a lot of wonderful mentors in my career and carry their education forward. Over the past twenty-one years, seeing others become confident on their horses has been so rewarding knowing they have been given the skills to do so.

Coach Status: 

Keeping people safe while riding a horse must be at the forefront of anyone who is providing a coaching service. I am lucky to get to train horses and teach lessons to people who are as passionate and dedicated to their horses as I am. Everyday we are given the opportunity to be better than we were the day before!

Becoming an EC Registered Coach was very straightforward, and it’s important that EC continues to educate and provide clarity as how imperative and crucial the program is in our sport. The downfall of the program is there are a lot of requirements when you are busy, but it is easily laid out through ECampus. Also, if you have any questions, an EC staff member is available to assist! 

Erika MetroI Am EC: Four Canadian Coaches Share their Experiences with the Coach Status Program

Equestrian Background: 

I began riding horses when I was eight years old and haven’t stopped since. I spend a lot of my time working with young horses at the lesson barn I rode at as they had a breeding program.

I have competed at the Canadian Arabian Nationals with my horse Bob in sport horse classes. With horses always being my passion, I’ve considered equine careers, but I mostly enjoyed teaching people. My father had a quote on his wall “seek first to understand, then to be understood,” and this has always resonated with me.

Coaching experience:

I coached when I was in my teenage years, took a little break but then connected with Leanne Tomanek in 2018, Tomanek Farms and started a lesson program there. I have 30 athletes and seven lesson horses I teach.

Having completed Registered Status, my goals in coaching are to have a successful show string of youth and share in their success. My intention is to become a coach specialist and mentor young coaches to keep the integrity of the sport. 

Coach Status:

I see the value in Coach Status program is to allow people to see the importance in our sport as a true sport. Knowing that I was aligned with many of the modules, shows I’m on the right track and feel that validation. I’d love to see more Albertans get involved as we have a huge horse population in Strathcona County, there’s a lot of opportunity.

I also think the program could be a little more diverse, for example the English rider levels are catered to strictly jumping and dressage and not the Arabian circuit. There must be a set standard, but with horses there are so many different ways of doing things.

Licensed CoachI Am EC: Four Canadian Coaches Share their Experiences with the Coach Status Program

Meet two licenced coaches ̶ Brandon Hall of Scarborough, ON and Leslie Curran of Wahnapitae, ON.

Licensed Status is a designation for coaches and trainers with knowledge and expertise achieved through formal certification, education, or validated practical experience. 

Brandon HallI Am EC: Four Canadian Coaches Share their Experiences with the Coach Status Program

Equestrian Background:

My journey with horses began when I was 10 years old, after my parents found a riding program that was close to home. As I moved through the competition circuits, I was given the opportunity to show young horses around the ‘A circuit’ leading me to become a trainer in 2016. I saw an opportunity to begin coaching when I was starting young horses, and their owners would ask for lessons as they didn’t have support to continue the horses development on their own.

Coaching Certification:

After doing my research about becoming an EC certified coach, I realized how important it is to achieve the certification. A group of us decided to take the program together ̶ Emily Wulff (Yaghdijan) from Pickering Horse Centre, Ashley Newell Sakaguchi from Lake House Stables, Kendal Lehari from Lehari Eventing and Amanda Hines, a freelance coach. I was able to become a Competition Coach in August 2018 and achieved my Licenced Status on in June 2021.

Since I work for Ontario Equestrian, I wanted to champion the certification process to promote the many benefits and prove that its not as overwhelming as it may seem.

In most sports, it is a requirement to be certified to step on to the field of play, and I’m excited to see this become a requirement for equestrian. I am already being met with the question of “are you certified?” when new clients tour the farm. Any coach who doesn’t have first aid, safe sport, a background check and concussion training – should raise a level of concern.  

Coach Status:

Challenges I found in the program is that the system can be overwhelming, switching back and forth between websites and the updates of a program, this can deter a coach to achieve their goals. The biggest success of the Coach Status program in my viewpoint is having your own insurance, completing the appropriate training and safe sport background checks. Having this validation from the program provides pride in the sport; it is way overdue and small steps like these will make the biggest impact in our sport. For anyone feeling stuck, needing guidance or support, please reach out for help

Leslie CurranI Am EC: Four Canadian Coaches Share their Experiences with the Coach Status Program

Equestrian Background:

I started horseback riding at the age of six and what a wild ride it has been! My mom, who unfortunately passed away in 2013, was one of my biggest supporters. She knew it was going to be a challenging road in the equestrian industry, but she taught me the importance of building experience, qualifications, and was a true inspiration.

Coaching Certification:

On top of being heavily involved in Pony Club as a kid, during my teens I achieved my “Groom 1” with the University of Guelph, received my NCCP, “Instruction of Beginners Over Fences”, my Bronze Cross and my Bronze Medallion in lifesaving.

In 2008 when I was 19, I started my own coaching and training business ‘Volte Equestrian’. At the beginning, I was one of the youngest coaches and it was challenging. But thanks to my mom, I was qualified to stand with other professionals and have found the job of “educating” to be one of the most rewarding on the planet!

Coaching may be my job, but it is also very personal for me. My business is structured on quality, not quantity, and my clients are like family. I want to protect my students and their equine partners and help show them just how much potential they truly hold. It still gives me goosebumps every time I see one of my students be successful in even the smallest of victories.

Coach Status:

I quite enjoyed the Coach Status program. I thought it was structured perfectly for busy equestrians and having a great deal of it online made it a seamless process for me. The more virtual opportunities, the better!

I took two main things away from the program. The first is the attention to head injuries. I am diagnosed with “Post Concussion Syndrome” due to several serious accidents throughout my riding career and feel many equestrians still do not know the importance of head injury care. I was pleased to see this topic brought up in the program.

The second important point is for coaches to understand their position as a figure of authority. There are many motivated, talented equestrians out there who admire their coaches. It is upon us to ensure they are respected and their passion for the sport is not taken advantage of. I had a lot of ups and downs and know I would never want a student or athlete to be treated badly or become injured like me. Bullying is apparent in a lot of places, but it would be lovely to see a lot less of it in our beautiful equestrian sport. 

For further questions on the Coach Status Program, please contact:

Janelle Bruce, Coordinator, Coaching

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