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Qualifications without college

Avoiding college courses – here’s how

Here at Lingfield you always will find friendly tutors and flexible courses to help you change careers and gain professional qualifications – without going to college. 

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If you are thinking of making a career change and teaching others to ride or training their horses, you need to know about qualifications and insurance.  The Lingfield office is happy to provide you with one to one information, guidance via email and suggestions for training in your area.

But why are qualifications important? Think about it like this :  Would you go on a sea kayaking course – or send your child on such a course with a leader who held no qualifications?  How would you know they were aware of all the pitfalls in teaching kayakers and of the possibilities of accidents – it could even lead to drowning if they were not sufficiently aware.  The answer we suspect is NO, you wouldn’t send your child on such a course or go yourself.

So why take the chance with riding ?  Qualified instructors are experienced and knowledgeable horse trainers as well as riding coaches with many holding national coaching qualifications.  We are more than happy to chat to people and point them in the right direction to get training on a part time basis without attending college College is not for everyone.

Is your riding instructor qualified?  Plenty of people teach without qualifications – but do they have insurance and do they have any training. It is virtually impossible to get teaching insurance without holding qualifications.

Riding is a risk sport – we are all aware of that.  People fall off and accidents happen.  Today everyone wants compensation, and for that you need to have someone to blame for your accident.  The person in charge of the lesson or doing the training is usually the person you look to.  Some who teach without qualifications say that they have public liability insurance and that is enough – but when it comes to a claim it definitely isn’t.

Many of our students are using Lingfield courses (**see below for suitable course) to gain the majority of the theory knowledge for the ABRS UKCC professional qualifications or the BHS professional qualifications whilst at the same time using a local equestrian centre to gain the practical skills – drop us an email and we will explain how – or read on.

Our courses are distance learning alone.  As with any distance learning course they would not be accredited for professional qualification  to work in a hands on capacity with horses – it just would not be safe.  However, they do provide the theory knowledge needed for the practical exams and many of our students use them whilst training on a part time basis for the practical side of it at a local yard.

Some of this information is repeated on the I want to work with horses page!

If you are a career changer with a horse, family, work and a life, we generally suggest you avoid the colleges – they probably want you to attend full time or will be too structured for the sort of part time training that you are looking for at this stage.

If you are lucky you may find a good riding centre within 30 or 45 minutes drive of your home, but be aware that for decent training it is not unusual to have to travel for well over an hour to find a suitable yard where you can train.

When you think you have spotted a suitable riding school/centre on the internet, telephone (do not email or message)  and ask to speak to the person in charge of training. Explain that you are really keen to gain qualifications and you are looking at ways to do this and understood their yard had a good reputation so was an ideal place to start finding out about it. (Note:  they get load of such queries so you must sound really serious). You may find that like many centres now, they have practical group training lessons once a week – possibly in the evenings.

  • Tell them you are aiming to take (or maybe you are already enrolled on) a distance learning course which is BHS based to enable you to gain more knowledge on the theory side of equine care. However, you realise that practical skills are vital and would like to take the practical side of the training with them if they can help you.
    • **The Lingfield distance learning programme we suggest would be suitable for those aiming for the BHS Stages or UKCC Levels 1 & 2 is the Intermediate Diploma programme.
    • Our courses alone cannot provide any accredited qualification – they are distance learning & therefore theory only.  All professional qualifications in the equine world which allow you to work in a hands on capacity with horses require that you are assessed on the practical elements of handling and riding.

When contacting suitable riding centres to find out about part time training:

Be aware – and let them know that you are aware, that you may need an assessment riding lesson first to see if you are ready for the riding side of the professional qualification too.

NOTE:  If you are fairly experienced, we would suggest you play DOWN your abilities in this first contact – because no matter how experienced or good you are you will still have to start at the bottom so experience and skills will be almost irrelevant.  Trying to tell the person in charge of training that, although you have never seen an assessment standard, you are better than or already more knowledgeable than the basic or lowest standard is not likely to endear them to you.  It may even make them bristle slightly against you.

Rest assured, they will be able to tell how experienced you are as soon as they see you ride.

Remember this:

  • It is your approach to training, your motivation and understanding of the fact that you will be starting at the bottom and working your way up that they will be more interested in.

Getting the right theory knowledge under your belt even before you start training is really helpful and shows them you are keen and serious about this as a career.

For those who are more novice, some places MAY allow you to come along and work on the yard as a voluntary helper in exchange for pointers and once established you could discuss either paying for proper training or joining their training programme on a part time basis.  You may well for instance find that once you have established yourself as a useful pair of hands that they allow you to join in with their staff training sessions.  It is give and take – if you can help them, they may be able to assist you – but first you must show you are a useful person to have around.

For those who are more experienced, offering that voluntary work in exchange for some training towards BHS or UKCC quals may even be broached on the phone at the first or second contact.   If you are an experienced pair of hands and can stand in when someone is off sick or be on call for emergency cover sometimes or for ‘day off’ or weekend cover that would be a real help for some yards.

If you find a yard that does offer lessons for training towards Stages or UKCC but you work, or are a full time parent, you might find their lesson times do not fit easily fit with your commitments.  However,  if you are genuinely keen to gain qualifications and change your career or make a career of this, you will have to find a way.  Approaching your employer about flexible working hours or calling in favours from friends to look after the family might be an option.

If aiming for BHS Stages, when you apply to the BHS for an assessment date you will receive a skills record document.  Specific skills must be completed in front of and signed off of a local BHS assessor instructor prior to going for the final BHS assessment for that Stage 1 exam. The same applies for Stage 2.

Having taken your Stage 1 or UKCC Level 1 you can then decide which path or route you are going to take in the equine professional world.  The BHS offer the following routes/pathways for professional qualifications.

  • Grooms training route
  • Professional Rider training route
  • Complete Horsemanship coaching route

Each of the above routes require that you first have the full Stage 1 though.  We all have to start at the bottom – you cannot drive on the roads without first being assessed that you have learned todrive the car and drive it safely on the road.  Once you have this first qualification, you then need specific elements of the Stage 2 to gain qualifications in your chosen pathway. The Complete Horsmanship / Coaching pathway however, contains all the offered elements.

Of the 3 routes, only the Complete Horsemanship coaching pathway offers the option to take the Stage 3 Coach qualification.  This then is equivalent to the BHSAI (the first instructional qualification of the BHS) and this is the only route which would provide you with the option to achieve the International Coaches Passport to teach overseas.

If aiming for the Coaching route, once again Lingfield can help you – we have a course specifically aimed at those who are not at college but wish to gain their BHS teaching qualification – check it out here

Our tutor in the office is friendly and approachable and is there to offer advice and guidance on gaining professional qualifications on a full or part time basis.  We do it all the time and not just to those who use our courses.  We are here to help, why not drop us an email today on

  • Please though – do try to email rather than telephone – it is much easier to point you all in the right direction if we can send you the correct links you will need for searching for places.

There are other routes to gaining professional qualifications but none of them provide the option to obtain the Complete Horsemanship / coach qualification provided by the BHS – although the ABRS UKCC is very very similar in content and as well recognised and nationally accredited.

The other routes may well be offered by colleges or by riding centres in conjunction with local colleges.  These are the National Diplomas Levels 1 2 & 3 etc (they are usually BTEC/City & Guilds).  These courses are provided by colleges in conjuction with local riding schools with funding by the government – but the funding is to the Training Providers / Riding Centres, not to the students.  There are also apprenticeships – again offered in conjunction with the colleges.

These are all valid routes to training & gaining government accredited qualifications – but you must be aware that if you wish to become a coach and teach people or train their horses you will probably also need the BHS qualifications as well  (or instead), or the UKCC Level 2 qualification.

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