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How to Become Certified

The Alberta Equestrian Federation (AEF) is dedicated to providing instructors/coaches with the necessary tools to make the equestrian experience safe and enjoyable for all participants, horse and human, and to develop excellence in horsemanship. The EC/NCCP Instructor/Coaching Certification Program is the only Canadian equestrian coaching and instructor certifying program recognized nationally and internationally. The program is developed in partnership with:

The AEF is responsible for assisting all interested candidates in becoming certified, as well as hosting all training opportunities, education, candidate prep, and evaluations. When considering becoming certified the following steps must be followed as outlined below.


Become an EC/NCCP Certified Equestrian Instructor/Coach Today!

Step 1 - Identify The Certification You Are Best Suited For

The following levels of certification are available to become certified within:

  • Instructor: English (Flat Only or Jump), Western, Saddle Seat, Drive;
  • Competition Coach: English, Western;
  • Competition Coach Specialist: English (Jump, Dressage, or Eventing), Western (General Performance, Reining, or Speed);
  • High-Performance Coach (Must contact Equestrian Canada directly): English (Jump, Dressage, or Eventing), Western (Reining).

For more detailed information as to what each certificate entails, please view the Available Levels of EC/NCCP Equestrian Instructor/Coach Certification document to help make an informed decision of what certificate to pursue. A minimum of 16 years of age is required for certification as an instructor or coach. Any candidates applying that are under 18 years of age, require parental consent)

It is recommended that candidates choose to complete one certification pathway at a time. Certification may be held in multiple disciplines/certificates.

Step 2 - Gather & Submit Prerequisites/Admission Requirements

ALL candidates must complete and submit to the AEF office, the following prerequisite/admission requirements:

  • Completion of AEF Instructor/Coach Declaration Form;
  • Purchase & Maintain an annual AEF Membership;
  • Purchase & Maintain an annual Equestrian Canada Sport License (Instructors/Competition Coaches require a BronzeSport License & Competition Coach Specialist require a Silver Sport License);
  • Pay Equestrian Canada Coach Levy (Payment due at purchase time of Sport License);
  • Completion of Equestrian Canada Code of Ethics;
  • Completion of Equestrian Canada Code of Conduct;
  • Completion of AEF Privacy Document;
  • Completion of AEF Parental Consent Form (Applicable only to minors under 18 years of age);
  • Copy of valid and current Standard First Aid with Level C CPR (at a minimum) First Aid Certificate – online courses are not acceptable; candidates are recommended to take Canadian Red Cross or St. Johns Ambulance courses if available;
  • Copy of valid and current Background Check with Vulnerable Sectors completed – Must have been completed in the past 6 months from submission date;
  • Submission of 2 reference letters – Please review necessary Reference Letter Guidelines;
  • Request from the AEF office to be assigned NCCP log in credentials to complete the two online modules through;
  • Completion of Making Head Way in Sports online module through – Click Here for Instructions – Coming Soon!;
  • Completion of Making Ethical Decisions online module through – Click Here for Instructions- Coming Soon!

Additional Discipline/Level Specific Prerequisite/Admission Requirements include:

  • English Instructor: Completion of English Learn to Ride Level 6 or Pony Club C2 (alongside approved application);
  • Western Instructor: Completion of Western Learn to Ride Level 4;
  • Saddle Seat Instructor: Completion of Saddle Seat Riding Competency Test;
  • Drive Instructor: Completion of Learn to Drive Program;
  • English Competition Coach: Completion of English Learn to Ride Level 8 or Pony Club B or A (alongside approved application);
  • Western Competition Coach: Completion of Western Learn to Ride Level 4 & Basic Training of Western Intermediate Rider Program
  • English Competition Coach Specialist (Jump, Dressage, or Eventing): Completion of Portfolio
  • Western Competition Coach Specialist (GP, Reining, or Speed): Completion of Portfolio (Coming Soon)

For more information on the Learn to Ride level requirements or equivalencies please visit AEF Learn to Ride/Drive Programs.

Checklists are available as an additional aid for candidates in gathering admission requirements/prerequisites and are as follows:

Note: All documents must be submitted by mail, email, or fax – or may be printed and dropped off in person at the AEF office. Pictures taken with a camera, iPhone, etc of documents will not be accepted.

Step 3 - Attend Scheduled Training / Seek Mentoring

The following NCCP Equestrian Specific training courses are available for candidates prior to evaluation:

NCCP Equestrian Theory Workshop

  • This course covers the following modules: Equestrian Teaching and Learning, Plan an Equestrian Lesson, Making Ethical Decisions, and Analyzing Beginner Equestrian Performance

NCCP Competition Coach Workshop

  • This course covers the following modules: Design an Equestrian Sport Program, Manage an Equestrian Sport Program, Training Basic Mental Skills

NCCP Competition Coach Specialist Discipline Clinics

  • Dressage, Jump, Eventing, Speed, General Performance, Reining

Analyzing Performance Clinics

  • English (contains AP for Jump, Dressage, and Eventing) and Western (contains AP for GP, Reining, Speed)

To locate these training courses please visit the AEF Calendar of Events. If you wish to be added onto a candidate mailing list where dates for upcoming training events and evaluations are emailed directly to you once registration is open, please contact us directly and asked to be placed on the candidate mailing list. Courses are made available depending on needs and volume within programming for each province across the country. As this is a national certification program, training courses in other provinces will be the same and are valid in working towards overall instructor/coach certification.

NCCP Multisport training courses are available directly at to all interested candidates looking to add to their existing skillsets and become more familiar with NCCP coach training.

Mentoring with an already certified instructor/coach whom is familiar with the NCCP programming and evaluation requirements will help prepare candidates for what to expect come evaluation time.  Mentors should be able to work with you through the rubrics and other preparatory materials for evaluations as well as spend time with candidates working on analyzing performance as set out in the evaluation requirements. At this current time there is no formal mentoring program or requirements in place, however, this step is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED to candidates looking for successful outcome come evaluation time. Candidate requirements at an evaluation are clearly outlined in detail in the applicable certification rubrics which are as follows (candidates are recommended to work with a mentoring instructor/coach through the applicable rubrics to prepare for evaluation):

  • English Instructor Rubrics
  • Optional Add-On: English Instructor Jump Component Rubrics
  • Western Instructor Rubrics
  • Saddle Seat Instructor Rubrics
  • Drive Instructor Rubrics
  • English Competition Coach Rubrics
  • Western Competition Coach Rubrics
  • English Competition Coach Specialist Rubrics
  • Western Competition Coach Specialist Rubrics

Step 4 - Prepare & Submit Lesson Plans & Emergency Action Plan

Prior to attending or completing an in-person evaluation, candidates are required to submit a series of lesson plans alongside an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) as part of their overall evaluation mark. Lesson Plans and EAP’s may be submitted at any time, however must be submitted by the registration deadline for a candidates desired evaluation. The type and number of lesson plans required depends on the level of certification being worked towards and are as follows:

  • English Instructor (List of Approved English Instructor Topics): Mounted Lesson Plan, Unmounted Lesson Plan, Optional: Jump Lesson Plan, & EAP;
  • Western Instructor (List of Approved Western Instructor Topics): Mounted Lesson Plan, Unmounted Lesson Plan, & EAP;
  • Saddle Seat Instructor (List of Approved Saddle Seat Instructor Topics): Mounted Lesson Plan, Unmounted Lesson Plan, & EAP;
  • Drive Instructor (List of Approved Drive Instructor Topics): Driving Lesson, & EAP;
  • English Competition Coach (List of Approved English Competition Coach Topics): On the Flat Lesson Plan, Over Fences Lesson Plan, & EAP;
  • Western Competition Coach (List of Approved Western Competition Coach Topics): Rail Work Lesson Plan, Maneuvers Lesson Plan, BT Training Pattern Lesson Plan, & EAP;
  • Competition Coach Specialist (Western & English): Please refer to the portfolio application listed in Step 2: Gather & Submit Prerequisites/Admission Requirements.

Lesson Plan and EAP submission MUST follow strict formatting requirements. To review these requirements please look over the Lesson Plan, Emergency Action Plan, & Portfolio Formatting & Submission Requirements document. Improperly formatted submissions are subject to penalties. Candidates pursuing the Instructor or Competition Coach certifications MUST apply to be assigned topics for their written lesson plans and can do so by contacting the AEF Coaching Coordinator directly.

Templates are available for candidate use, however are NOT required to be used as long as lesson plans and EAP’s meet the standard outlined in the applicable rubrics. Templates are as follows:

Step 5 - Attend Evaluation / Submit Video Evaluation

This is the final step towards certification and requires candidates to attend an evaluation either in-person, or submit a video evaluation (if applicable). The evaluation process and requirements are unique to each level/discipline. Candidate requirements at an evaluation are clearly outlined in detail in the applicable certification rubrics which are as follows:

  • English Instructor Rubrics
  • Optional Add-On: English Instructor Jump Component Rubrics
  • Western Instructor Rubrics
  • Saddle Seat Instructor Rubrics
  • Drive Instructor Rubrics
  • English Competition Coach Rubrics
  • Western Competition Coach Rubrics
  • English Competition Coach Specialist Rubrics
  • Western Competition Coach Specialist Rubrics

To locate and register for upcoming evaluation dates, please visit the AEF Calendar of Events. Evaluations often have limited space available and operate on a first come first serve basis. If the candidate has not already done so, candidates MUST submit their required lesson plans and EAP by the registration deadline indicated for their desired evaluation. 

On evaluation day, candidates should come prepared to spend the full day at the host facility (bringing their own lunch, snacks, drinks). Candidates will also be required to bring human and equine first aid kits, bandages and any props or tack (side reins, lunge line and whip, etc.) required to teach lessons or perform evaluation requirements. Candidates should also bring a copy of their lesson plans, as well as pens, pencils and paper for any written requirements. Any other requirements will be noted on an individual basis. Candidates should arrive to an evaluation dressed in a workmanlike manner, with appropriate attire and treat everyone with respect. Evaluation areas are expected to be clean before, during, and after the evaluation. Respect towards evaluators, riders, and horses MUST be demonstrated at all times or will result in immediate dismissal. Evaluations are CLOSED events, and spectators of any form are not permitted (including pets, family, friends, mentoring instructor/coach, etc).

Candidates will usually have a full day, or multiple days if permitted, to complete all of the individual modules associated with the context in which they are seeking certification in. The exception to this is the Competition Coach Specialist candidates, as this level of certification is typically delivered in 3 separate components: 1. Portfolio submission, 2.Practical Sessions – Teaching Series of Lessons, 3.Technical Session – In competition evaluation.

Video Evaluation Details:

Hosting a Private Evaluation:

  • It is the goal of the AEF to accommodate as many instructor/coach candidate evaluations as desired. If you own your own facility and or are based out of your own facility, and would like to learn more about hosting an evaluation privately to complete your certification, please contact the AEF Coaching Coordinator directly.


  • In the event a candidate is not successful or does not meet the minimum required standard for a particular task in their evaluation, the candidate will be required to re-test that component/task at a later date. Only that specific component/task is required to be re-tested.

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