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Supervision in arena and on trail

My name is Kelly and I am the head riding instructor at A YMCA Camp. I have two questions I was hoping you could answer for us.

1. Are we allowed to have our students "practice" ride in the arena without an instructor present? We have several CHA instructors onsite, however, they may not be at the arena. The riders' must have at least one parent with them at the arena when practicing and our emergency phone list is present along with a phone for them to use. They are also given a "practice" plan and the parent is made aware of that plan.

2. With respect to trail rides, we always have one person who is over 21 years of age and CHA certified, however, we do not always have two, which is needed. Our question is this, are we allowed to use 1-2 kids who are aged 13 years and older, know our horses well and are competent Level 3 riders with the one CHA adult? Trail rides are a large part of our Camp income, however, we do not have many adult "horse people" to help with trail rides. We feel it is better to have these Level 3 kids than adults who know nothing about horses and are not capable riders. Please advise.

We would greatly appreciate your thoughts on these two matters and if CHA has rules regarding them or not. Thanks for your help and have a great day!

Hi Kelly,

Here are the answers to your questions:

1. CHA Standard S-5 is a mandatory standard and requires that clients (students) are under the supervision of a riding instructor or trail guide when in contact with a horse, whether mounted or unmounted. In order for your students to be supervised, an instructor would have to be present in the arena. I think it is great to allow your students practice time but it needs to be supervised by a qualified instructor. An adult parent would not be adequate supervision unless they happened to also be an instructor.

2. CHA Standard P-2 is a recommended standard and states that for trail rides there is a ratio of 1:6, staff to riders, with a minimum of two guides on every ride. The reason for this standard is that if something goes wrong on the ride, you'll need one guide to attend to the group and one to go for help or help the injured party. Since this is a recommended standard, it would be your prerogative to comply or not; however, in the instance of an incident or lawsuit, the standard would work against you instead of for you. CHA Standard P-11 is a mandatory standard and states that the minimum age of instructors and guides is 18 and the minimum age of assistants is 16. While it is perfectly acceptable to use a person 16-18 as an assistant trail guide to accompany a ride with a trail guide that is at least 18, you cannot use children younger than that as an assistant. This is a very important standard and while it may seem that younger children know enough about horses, you can not legally or ethically put them in charge of a group of riders. Neither an adult that is unqualified nor a child under 16 would count as a qualified assistant for any trail ride or arena lesson.

I hope this answers your questions. Please let me know if you have other questions. I hope you have a smooth and safe summer.