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Equine Training Options

Training Options in the Equine Industry

    It is widely assumed that a college course, is the route to take to becoming a riding instructor or gaining any equine qualifications.  This is not always the case.

  • Youngsters often enrol at college on what seems to be a good qualification – A  national diploma perhaps.  Many assume that the qualifications will lead directly on to becoming a Riding Insrtructor.
  • The Levels 1 2 & 3 National Diplomas currently available however, are not a direct qualification route for an instructing career. 
  • The National Diplomas have replaced the NVQ’s which did not qualify you for entry to the instructors exams either.
  • Yet more exams will have to be taken alongside or after that Diploma is achieved – so consider if it is worthwhile.

In the UK, there are a number of different ‘equestrian’ qualifications – some are useful, but some, we instructors believe are not.  Whether they are useful or not depends entirely on the training route and final career outcome you are aiming for.

Some lead on to degrees – others provide functional practical skills which are good for gaining work as a groom, and others provide ‘Teaching’ or ‘Stable Manager’ qualifications.

Take care therefore, that the course you choose, or you choose for your child is in fact the right career path.

Ask the right questions.

  • If your child/you aims to instruct, find out from the college if the course on which you are enrolling at college will actually give you an instructor’s qualification in the end.
  • Find out from the college what qualification you will achieve on that course, and what it qualifies you to do in your career in the equine industry.
  • Ask employers, colleges,and yard owners what qualifications THEY need of their staff –
    • a) working on the stable yard caring for the horses & yard itself.
    • b) taking lessons & teaching people to ride.
    • c) training students in the classroom – to which different standards.
    • If opting for an apprenticeship, please check that you can & will gain the qualifications you really need for the career you are aiming for.
  • Ask other riders what qualifications THEY required of their instructors and trainers and why.
  • Perhaps you would do well to find out what qualifications are required to gain professional instructors insurance.
  • Why do Instructors need insurance?

Part time instructor training:

As we mentioned earlier – you can often train full or part time at an equestrian centre.  If you want to train part time, you may even be able to offer work in exchange for training on specific days a week.  This gives the yard a hand and you the hands on practical experience.  You need that training to gain the practical skills for your exams.

The theory knowledge can be gained by distance learning courses such as Lingfield Correspondence courses whilst getting that practical help locally. Lingfield Intermediate Diploma programme provides the majority of the theory on which you would be questioned during the day of the professional exams.  You would not need lectures and can get this information under your belt in advance – thereby being one step ahead when it comes to training.

Many yards these days offer adult riding and stable management lessons specifically targeted towards the entering and gaining professional exams.  It just takes a bit of searching to find the right place.  The Lingfield admin office offers help with tips of what to look for to find the right yard/equestrian centre.

I’m an experienced horse person

– I don’t need the basics from any courses.

If you are experienced already you may think you don’t need more practical training.  However, consider this:  would you pass the advanced driving test after you have been driving a few years – probably not without someone telling you what is expected of you in the exam.  It is the same for working with horses – you need tips on what is expected and exam preparation.

Riding Instructor Qualification System

The qualification system in UK is fairly straightforwards. The qualifications can be gained through either the British Horse Society or the Association of British Riding Schools.  Both have similar training and qualification systems which enable instructors to gain the ALL important insurance for teaching on completion. The ABRS however are currently updating their system.  Both offer the generic UKCC qualifications however – the UK Coaching Certificate.  These are available on a graded Level 1, 2, 3, etc basis.  They cover the overall coaching of the rider as a person and one who is working on their own training (like an athlete) rather than just teaching the rider to ride a horse.

With the BHS system, once assessed by your trainer at the equestrian centre as ‘ready and up to the required standard’, you can put yourself in for the exams and work yourself up the ladder.

You can in fact put yourself in whenever you like.  However we would say ‘be realistic’.  These are genuinely professional exams, the entry fees are not cheap.  It could be a waste of money should you be considered borderline and fail and then have to re-take.

Although the systems for qualification are similar with each organisation, one thing is certain, everyone has to start at the bottom and work their way through the exams. There really is no alternative.  There are also a variety of pre-requisite exams. These must be achieved prior to being eligible to take the instructor exams.

What makes a qualified riding instructor

Instructors do not just teach riding – Today they are trained to a nationally graded sports standard in a variety of skills.

Instructors are and always have been horsemasters and horse trainers, which means they have the ability to understand and put into practice equine welfare and management to a high standard, and to teach and train horses. Riding instructors today are also trained coaches working with their clients and pupils to improve both mental and physical skills.

To be registered with the British Horse Society as an instructor they hold first aid certificates, attend training sessions and seminars regularly to maintain their standards, gain their Riding & Road Safety Test, have security checks completed and in place and are up to date on child protection checks too.

Along with the above mentioned tests and checks, the exam route to becoming an instructor via the BHS is as follows

  • BHS Stage 1   (both riding & horse knowledge elements, some questioned orally)
  • BHS Stage 2                        ”                                                  “
  • Preliminary Teaching Test
  • BHS Stage 3 (both riding and horse knowledge elements)

After a specified number of hours teaching – which must be signed off by a relevant person – the candidate is awarded the BHSAI.

Further Stages and Instructors qualifications follow to gain Stable Managers or Intermediate Instructors certificates.

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