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I want to work with horses – an overview

I want to work with horses - an overview

I want to work with horses but heard I need qualifications!    Is that correct?

Alanna Clarke Equestrian photo

Image: Alanna Clarke Equestrian

Not always, but YES in many instances you do need qualifications. Although the Lingfield courses do not offer professional qualifications in themselves e.g. for grooms or coaches, it is important to note that neither does any other equine distance learning course.  The Intermediate Diploma programmes provide the majority of the theory required, and on which you would be questioned, during the BHS and ABRS professional qualifications.

It is important to reiterate that it is not possible to gain a full professional qualification to work in a hands on capacity with horses via the BHS unless you undertake practical training and achieve BHS approved and certified assessments. 

The same applies with all other professional qualifications to work in a hands on capacity with horses.  All such qualifications involve practical training and assessments or exams.

So what is available for training and what sort of jobs can I do when qualified?

The system for gaining professional qualifications depends on the type of work you want to do in the end.  This is a long article but that is because we have gathered together lots of information on various training routes.   Few of the qualifying organisations are prepared to explain ALL the routes available.  It is for this reason that many people – especially young people start out on the wrong route.

It should be remembered that college is not for everyone.  Many young people are more suited to training at a good commercial centre and living at home.  Even if traveling/working hours are unsociable, sometimes the cost of contract taxis for getting to and from work, by comparison to college fees, is well worth considering.

Working in a ‘hands on’ capacity with horses offers 3 main routes of training.

There are 3 main awarding bodies for hands on qualifications: Equestrian Qualifications Limited (EQL – owned by BHS Ltd), British Equestrian Federation/1st 4 Sport awarding body (BEF), and finally BTEC with the City & Guilds awarding body & of course government funded Apprenticeships.

The BEF oversee coaching qualifications from the various disciplines within the equestrian industry such qualifications with British Eventing, British Dressage, Britsh Carriage Driving, British Reining, British Vaulting and general Equestrian Coach with the Association of British Riding Schools

There is also however, the more academic degree course route.  This doesn’t necessarily achieve ‘hands on’ work qualifications.  Some of these training systems overlap.

The routes to look at if you are aiming for professional qualifications are:

  1. The BHS (via their own training) and ABRS (via BEF)   –
    1.  Part time Training & other routes
  2. The National Diploma  – and Apprenticeships
  3. The Degree course

The information we provide below aims to answer many of the questions we receive from enquirers here in our office.  It is not an exhaustive or complete list of work/employment/positions/qualifications available.  We have provided the information with the best of intentions and to our knowledge we believe it to be correct.   Note that you should be sure to do your own research to confirm the information we provide here and for the latest and most up to date information.

The 3 routes for  ‘hands on’ qualifications:

ABRS, BHS, BTEC/City & Guilds (& Apprenticeships)

WHICHEVER route you choose for training:   Be aware that traveling time and possibly occasional overnight accommodation for attending training and assessments must be factored in to your overall training costs. 

If you genuinely want this as your career you will make that effort, you will make sacrifices to your life and time, you will find that money to pay for it, and will be motivated enough to achieve your goal!  

It depends on how much you want it – be honest with yourself about this because it will undoubtedly be time consuming and could also be expensive.  Achieving any professional qualification is time consuming and expensive!

Coaching qualifications:

Now we will discuss those organisations which offer a teaching/coaching qualification (or groom/stable managers qualification).   The teaching profession is probably the most lucrative of the options in this system of training.

Coaches quite often – especially initially – work at riding stables/equestrian centres or as freelance coaches and in the main, most who are working at equestrian centres will earn a little more than the minimum wage – but sometimes they work part time and are able to top their wage up by working as a freelance coach on their days off – if the riding school allows.  They will however require extra coaching insurance for this.

Once they have moved up the ladder a little they will of course earn more if the yard is big enough.  If they are in a position to increase their skill levels and their level of qualification within a training yard environment, there may be more options open to them. They can then train others for qualifications within that training yard and will often present lectures teach other students.  If working part time or entirely in a freelance capacity, will then begin to build a larger client base and charge more for their freelance work.

It is important to note however, that moving away from a yard / centre which offers ns a training environment, makes it increasingly difficult to achieve the more advanced coaching qualifications. Training as you move up the ladder is much more difficult to find on a part time basis and becomes increasingly costly. Sometimes you may find the only way to progress is to employ a rider of a more advanced standard to ride whilst your trainer is coaching you in the art of coaching that rider.

Here are possible routes to gaining coaching qualifications

1.  The Association of British Riding Schools & The British Horse Society are reasonably similar

BHS qualifications are recognised internationally and their own EQL accredited these qualifications – they have equivalent standards to other countries/members of the International Group for Equestrian Qualifications (IGEQ) and has the option of qualifying for an International Trainers Passport.

The less well known ABRS BEF/1st4Sport Equestrian Coaching Certificate is similar and also offers access to an International Trainers Passport.

Neither the BHS or ABRS offer any distance learning training or qualifications for this type of professional ‘exam’ (now called ‘assessment’).

UPDATE:  April 2020 – useful description from the ABRS website

What are the differences between the British Horse Society (BHS) qualifications and Equestrian Coaching Certificate pathway endorsed by UK Coaching Certificate (UKCC) with the BEF?

The BHS pathway provides a rounded programme of assessment encompassing riding, horse care and management along with teaching and training practices. This pathway is assessment only and has no taught element delivered directly by the BHS. You can therefore choose their own method of learning, whether that be from text books, practical experience or class-based learning. BHS would actively encourage you to gain as much practical experience as you can while progressing through the stages combined with text books and taught courses which are available via colleges, at equestrian centres and are offered by freelance coaches. The cost of taught courses are not covered by the fees, which are for the assessments only.

The Equestrian Coaching Certificate pathway endorsed by UKCC/BEF is a standardised approach across equestrian disciplines and focusses on the coaching craft in the context of equestrianism.

It usually contains a course with a taught element (the course element is mandatory in Scotland if the candidate is applying for help with funding the qualification) – both in the classroom and
practically alongside of the development of a coach portfolio based on clients you are coaching –
and an assessment which looks at the your coaching skills (whilst coaching elements from the
technical syllabus at each level) and also requires the submission of a portfolio.

It does not assess knowledge or expertise in relation to horse care and welfare, albeit demonstration of an appreciation of equine health and welfare is necessary as a requirement to register for these qualifications – either demonstrated through experience or previous qualifications (e.g. BHS Stage 1 Care and Management, Pony Club B Test). These qualifications also have discipline specific pathways which very much focus on the skills and technical requirements for a competition coach within that specific discipline (from grassroots to higher levels of competition) and so you can easily specialise.

The RDA (Riding for the Disabled Association) have completed a review and re-working of their
coaching pathway. Their new pathway aligns with UKCC/BEF endorsed pathway but is not endorsed itself.


In the UK we have an  ‘Equestrian Coaching Certificate’ as explained above which is not widely advertised nor is it widely known.   This qualification used to be called the UK Coaching Certificate.  It is a generic coaching qualification in the UK available to sports people in all UK sports from canoeing and volleyball to horse racing and football.

The equestrian coaching qualifications for all the different and specific disciplines of equestrian sport (eventing, dressage, showjumping and general riding coach etc.etc.) is run by the British Equestrian Federation with 1st 4 Sport.

Of interest to those reading this page however, is the fact that The Level 2  ‘general riding coach‘ qualification in this Equestrian Coaching Certificate is offered by the Association of British Riding Schools. This qualification is of a practical nature and no distance learning courses provide such a qualification.

The Level 2 ‘Equestrian Coaching Certificate’ enables you to gain the relevant insurance which is required by anyone aiming to coach riders in a paid capacity.

Candidates aiming for this coaching qualification must achieve Level 1 prior to attaining Level 2.  Currently in 2019 the ABRS are offering only Level 2 training and assessments. The Pony Club however, offer Level 1 training and assessments for general riding coach. The Pony Club offer these to all, not just to members or those who teach at their venues.

Here is the link to the BEF site giving overall Level 1 detail

Remember that this is for professional career training and therefore the fee for Level 1 training including assessment is in the region of £700.

Here is the link to the Pony Club site giving details of Level 1. 

Level 1 Training Venue & Dates for 2020 are given by the Pony Club website at this time as:

2020 – Wittering Grange – Peterborough 

  • Day 1 – 27th April 2020
  • Day 2 – 1st June 2020
  • Day 3 – 13th July 2020
  • Assessment Day – 27th July 2020 (Requires separate booking)

The ABRS will offer Level 1 if they have sufficient interest – we are putting people in touch with the relevant ABRS trainer so please let us know here in the Lingfield office if you are keen on gaining Level 1.

This is the link to the ABRS UKCC Level 2 qualification in coaching.  Gaining this means you are eligible for the all important freelance teaching insurance.  Look at their list of schools below the map on the website – find schools local to you – if there are none – contact the ABRS direct but be sure to check their office opening times first.

Alternatively please feel free to contact us and we will point you in the right direction for the correct ABRS contact person.

If you prefer to find out yourself, you could ring the nearest schools to you and ask if they offer training for their Initial Teaching Test.

  • 2019 update: Following a recent review commissioned by Sport England, we know the UKCC will remain unchanged for the next year but could change beyond September 2020. We suggest therefore that anyone aiming for a Coaching Certificate via this route, push on and get it quickly to avoid any change in training mid way through your career change process.

Check out this distance learning course for the Level 2 Coaching Certificate and the BHS Teach Award

When it comes to Level 2 coaching assessment and training, our Lingfield tutor Gail West has produced an excellently well presented course specifically for those aiming to take coaching qualification.

It covers all the elements of the actual assessment day: the presentation of lesson plans, risk assessments, preparation of talks, discussion and presentations.  The content includes teaching and learning – how people learn and the styles of learning and much much more.  The course prepares you for that Level 2 Coaching Assessement day.

You may wish to use it in preparation for your training days.


The BHS route for coach/instructor etc., is via their Complete Horsemanship pathway.  This involves achieving both BHS Stage 1 and Stage 2 riding – including lunging, and equine management.

Although colleges offer ‘bolt on’ BHS training alongside the structured courses featuring the City & Guilds accredited National Diplomas discussed below, they are not usually offered on a grant system in the same way as the National Diplomas/ Apprenticeships.

BHS professional  exams are usually called assessments today. The BHS qualifications enabling you to work hands on with horses, are of a practical nature with no written work. The theory on equine care is questioned orally during the days of the various assessments and final BHS assessment days.

BHS professional final assessments are held at specific riding centres and colleges in various parts of the country.

Note:  Most of the professional assessments are full-on, full day practical riding and or horse management assessment days (no written work). As discussed previously, they command professional level entrance fees – it is therefore worth getting the right training – and being aware that you might have to spend time traveling to and from a good training place. An hour and a half or more would not be unusual – but it is your career you are looking at and the traveling and the time spent training is not something you will have to do forever !

British Horse Society professional route: This link gives you an overview

For your suggested pathway as a BHS riding instructor, you should opt for the British Horse Society “Complete Horsemanship qualifications” and having gained the initial basic qualifications, then take the coaching pathway

Initially you would need all elements of Stage 1 – then  all elements of Stage 2.  Stage 2 or above is invariably the entry requirement for moving on into other professions within the industry too = e.g. massage, vet physio, behaviourist etc

This  Complete Horsemanship (coach) qualification qualifies you to coach and train people and their horses in exactly the same way as the ABRS training, and will allow you to obtain the all important insurance to teach on a freelance basis – thus also allowing you to take other routes in the future.  This qualification is not so likely to help you gain work where a degree is required in an office or on the nutritional side of things – it is the hands on side of working with horses that you are aiming for with these qualifications.

Whichever route you choose the following applies:

It is important to note that without these professional qualifications it is unlikely that you would be able to get any professional insurance for working as a professional in a hands on capacity within the equestrian industry – unless working for and employed by a stables which provides insurance cover for you whilst working on their premises.

How can Lingfield distance learning course help me?

Although the BHS & ABRS exams/assessments are of a practical nature, the distance learning courses we offer from Lingfield can, provide the majority of the theory knowledge on which you would be questioned orally during those prerequisit ABRS exams or during the BHS Stages 1 & 2 assessments. They are therefore, ideal for the mature student who is often working outside the industry or who has a busy life, work and family and cannot train full time.

The distance learning courses are also useful if you  aim to train in future and hope to get the theory knowledge underway before searching for practical training.

Careers in most equine related therapies – such as massage and equine behaviour – also require a good grounding in practical and theoretical equine management, and many require a degree.  Most qualifications require that the student is already proficient and requires a BHS Stage 2 or Stage 3 as a minimum.  Professional equine behavourists/psychologists also require a related degree.

 1.1) Part time training: 

Loads of our students are using our Intermediate Diploma programmes to gain the theory knowledge for their professional assessments whilst at the same time training on a part time basis for the practical side of the professional qualifications.  This they usually manage to undertake reasonably locally at an equestrian centre. If you are looking to train part time, you need to find a good equestrian centre which can help you – more info below on this.

Training on a part time basis means it is entirely possible to achieve the first coaching award (Stage 2 Coach Award) or even the second (Stage 3 / BHSAI) coaching qualification with the BHS.  It is not however, easy to move on from that standard whilst training on a part time basis unless regularly involved in daytime work related training at a BHS Training Centre.

Sometimes this part time training can be set up so that you do a little work on the yard in exchange for training.  The colleges however, are not really suitable to approach for this sort of training – they use a more ‘structured timetable / course’ approach which is not ideal for those with busy lives &/ or a family. Far better in our opinion to approach equestrian centres.  Read on to find out how

For the part time route where you use a local riding stables/equestrian centre it is fairly vital to choose a centre where they already train their staff / working pupils / students for the riding elements of the Stages /ABRS Initial Teaching Certificate.  Note that where you train does NOT need to be listed with the BHS / ABRS as a ‘Training’ centre.  There are other general equestrian centres on their lists which train staff and some offer client lessons for the Stages too.  Always check websites for a Training or Education section.

For BHS qualifications, you will need to find a yard where there is an instructor who is a qualified professional BHS assessor assessor to pass you on various aspects of practical work leading up to and prior to the final assessment day with the BHS. These final BHS assessments are held at one of their assessment/exam centres.  With the BHS, the exam/assessment centre could be a college or a larger equestrian centre.  They are few and far between so you may have to travel some distance for that final assessment.  It is after all a professional qualification for a professional career you are going for so you must realise that this is not a simple ‘test passing’ situation.

The BHS will send you a ‘Skills Record’ when you first apply to them for the qualification at the start of your training.  The ‘skills record’ cannot be a copy downloaded from their website – it must be the one sent to you by the BHS through the post when you apply for professional assessment.  It must be signed off by your local BHS assessor instructor.  (Search out a BHS instructor assessor locally – they will probably be able to help you with your application).

With the ABRS it is useful to find a yard which is offering training for the ABRS Progressive Rider Tests to their clients.  They are we suspect more likely to be ‘training orientated’.

Once you have achieved a good standard of coaching, achieved Level 1 with the Pony Club (or ABRS if they offer it this year) and had a good many hours of teaching/coaching practice, you could take the training and assessment for the Coaching Certificate.

The ABRS Level 2 training is held on 4 single days, over a period of about 4 months so although time spent possibly further away for training is genuinely not much the traveling may be a bit longer.  See their site for Level 2 training.

Search out the BHS website Find a Place to Ride section (not just ‘where to train’) and look for yards with

a) good websites

b) who offer ‘training’ on their website for the ABRS or BHS qualifications (Stages).

As mentioned earlier, you may find you have to travel for at least an hour or maybe two to find a decent place to train – but if it is for your career training it will be worth traveling costs and time. It is important to find a good place.  You have to remember that you may have to make sacrifices to achieve your goal.

  • Career training is rarely available to you on your doorstep and the cost is never minimal for career qualifications.

How to contact suitable part time training places:

Having found a suitable equestrian centre or a selection of stables/centres in your region, check them ALL out by visiting them after you have first made contact by phone.

TIP:  Do not email !  Most equestrian centres get loads of similar emails and phone calls from people looking to get trained as a riding instructor – but few people follow it through.  The centres therefore, don’t take people very seriously unless they sound seriously keen and motivated and explain also that they understand that they will have to start at the bottom.

You will therefore, need to sound really keen, motivated and very serious about it on the phone.  Ask to speak to the person in charge of training – not just the receptionist or groom who answers the phone!  Explain that you are making a serious enquiry regarding ‘training for BHS exams/assessments’ at their centre.


It is important to realise that no matter how experienced you are, with the BHS system, unless you qualify for direct entry to Stage 2 by showing proof of prior qualifications (NVQ Level 1, or perhaps recent Pony Club B or A tests or prior learning etc.) you will have to start at the bottom.  The BHS offer direct entry only in specific cases – check their website here for more information

All professional career training is the same, you start at the bottom whether it be accountant, car mechanic, solicitor, teacher or hairdresser.  You will not be accepted as a self assessed ‘experienced/knowledgeable’ person, you will have to show by professional assessment that you can undertake the simple riding work and easy tasks before being considered safe and suitable to move on to the more experienced work.

When you go along to view any place which sounds as though it will help you with practical training, amongst the many questions you need to ask, we suggest that you ask the following

a) Ask how long, as a rule, it takes their junior staff to achieve Stage 1 & 2. (this simply gives you a ball park timescale – the answer varies for every person – it could be 9 months or it could be 2-3 years)

b) Tactfully, if possible, identify the staff and chat to them on a one to one basis

  • Find out how long they have been there.  A quick turnover of staff is not good.
  • If you are looking for training for a young person or aiming to work full time during your training you should ask:  Do the staff live in? – do they have decent, warm and dry accommodation and do they get any meals cooked for them? Youngsters may need to learn how to cook their own meals.  Check the accommodation out personally – think about it seriously and decide whether it is suitable for Winter conditions, food storage and cooking, drying wet clothes etc.
  • What days off do they get (Apprentices of 16/17 should get two consecutive days off per week).  Find out if that is set in stone.
  • Are they happy – is it a happy yard.

Whether you are looking for full or part time training at an equestrian centre you need to ask:

  • How many hours ‘structured’ training do their staff or trainees get a week and is this every week.
  • What sort of training is it?  Is it ridden lessons as well as working alongside and learning from other staff as they do the general practical work in the yard.
    • This practical yard work as part of your training, might seem mundane but you need to know how you would be expected to do it at an assessment.  You may have always cut corners at home and not even be aware that you do so.  Working at a training yard means you would pick up or be picked up on that.

For part time training you would also need to establish:

  • Would it be possible for you to be included in the staff / client training lessons if you were looking for part time training – and if there is a cost, how much would it cost per hour.
  • As an alternative you could ask if you could put in a couple of days work in exchange for training – maybe working at the weekend for them.
  • Ask if there is any chance they can work something out – you might have to be flexible.
  • If it is obvious that you are prepared to help them and will be useful to them, they are more likely to accommodate you.
    • If you already work full time, remember also that staff training is unlikely to be undertaken at weekends or in the evenings – that is the time when the centre is catering to the paying public and there is no time to fit in staff training as well.

It is important to find out about the yard training system – that way you know if the yard looks after their staff and will offer some proper structured training.  Many yards tell prospective employees / trainees / apprentices that they will ‘train them’ – but in the final outcome they don’t offer actual structured training.  They simply offer ‘experience’ on the yard which could be considered ‘training’ in the broadest sense of the word but is not structured or considered to be training by the employee.  

Paying for part time training

  • Some riding stables/schools offer evening lessons for riding school clients for the BHS Stages exams/assessments.  These are ideal if you work full time.  Lingfield Intermediate Diplomas can provide the majority of the theory for the exams so you may need simply to join the evening riding training lessons.
  • Check all centres websites carefully for any  ‘Training’  section.
  • This is the ABRS list of schools
  • Some of the yards on the Enjoy Riding  section also ‘train’ but are not necessarily classed only as training yards.  So to be sure to search the all centres on the BHS website and the ABRS site too.

What to look for:   To find ‘approved’ yards in your area, you can  look at this section of the BHS site and put your post code in. This is the ABRS list of schools.   Remember that we pointed out earlier – you might have to travel for over an hour  or more to get decent training but that is not unusual for good career training.  You may also have to take time off work or find someone to look after your children/horse/dog.  You will need to put a good amount of time aside for this training – but if you want to change careers it will be worth both the time and sacrifices.

Experienced riders/owners:  Those who are experienced often wonder why they have to start at the bottom and why it will all take so long.  Genuinely professional career training and qualification is not something you can undertake in a couple of weeks.  It always take a while and you always have to start at the bottom and work your way up.

Many of the ABRS Approved yards also train people for the BHS Stages.   If they do not have a website or not a particularly detailed one they may not do any training.  Ring to check.

Both ABRS and BHS are linked from this page on this site 

  • Plenty of people do train on a part time basis. 
  • At least 2 of our tutors did it this way as have hundreds of other coaches. 
  • It is entirely possible to gain good qualifications but remember:
  • It does take a bit longer than full time training.
    • You have to put aside the time
    • You have to put aside the time for traveling – it may be quite a long way
    • You will have to pay reasonable money for decent training
  • Career training is not cheap – hence the debt so many youngsters finish up with after taking their degree courses at college and university – if you are doing it part time at least the expense is spread over a period of time and you may also be earning at the same time.


Whichever route you take to gaining a hands on qualification, you will need to get that theory knowledge on equine care under your belt.  You will be questioned on it during your assessments and there is quite a lot of information and knowledge to take on board. For this reason unless you are happy to simply read books and are sure you are reading the right books, we would suggest that taking a distance learning course from Lingfield.

An example of a suitable programme is the Intermediate Diploma which includes our Levels 1 & 2 courses.  These learning programmes could not offer professional qualifications because they are all distance learning.  They would however, get some of that theory behind you and get you bang up to date too.

The Lingfield courses are used by so many to get the theory knowledge under their belt.  They are a really good stepping stone and will help you get started with your professional training.

Used alongside other part time practical training, gained somewhere more locally to your home base, you would find our courses would help enormously in reaching your final goal of gaining professional qualifications in future. The Reviews section of our site proves this to be true over and over again.

Having gained a professional ‘hands on’ qualification to BHSAI / Stage 3 Level you have achieved good all round equine management, horse training and coaching and could then branch out and specialise in a specific area or discipline if you wished.

If you have found ANY of the above information useful it would really help us and others if you could drop us a simple email to to tell us it was helpful.  Thank you.



People often ask if there is a good website for vacancies:  Check out the British Grooms Association website for positions available – then look at other equine career companies – recruitment agencies.


The second option for hands on qualifications


2. National Diplomas explained

typically in the equine industry these are offered at Levels  1 – 4

There are several bodies which have gained accreditation rights for professional qualifications from the government education body for the National Diplomas across all industries. One of which is the equine industry. One is EQL – Equine Qualifications Limited – set up by the BHS covering only the equine industry.  Another is City & Guilds and yet another is BTEC (Business and Technology Education Council).  For our purposes however we will simply call these ‘government accredited bodies’ offering graded work based qualifications.

These qualifications are the ‘National Diplomas’.  They are a government accredited national grading system and practical qualification in equine management.   However,  they do not lead to instructors or coaching qualifications in their own right.    Until recently this was the NVQ/SNVQ qualification  which was revamped and renamed to National Diploma. They cover all industries in the same way NVQ’s did.  You could get a Level 1-7 or even 8 NVQ – now you call it a Diploma instead of NVQ.

The National Diploma Level 1 – 4 therefore,  is the national government accrediting / awarding body route leading to national grooms qualifications and apprenticeships.

This is the type of qualification you need to gain if you are aiming to work in the industry – perhaps as a groom/stable worker.  Level 3 is not internationally recognised yet is a similar standard of equine management to the BHS Stage 3 at which you can become a BHSAI.  The Nat. Diploma Level 3 would of course be without the teaching and lunging element. Although having gained the higher Level 4 qualification you would perhaps be considered a manager but would still be without any coaching element.  This standard would normally take several years to achieve.

Please Note:  The grading for the ‘National Diplomas’ in Horse Care is in ‘Levels’ etc.  Other organisations, accrediting bodies, companies and training providers in this industry and others, also use words such as Levels or Stages or Grades to denote their grading and standards of achievement.  A Level 1 2 or 3 Diploma for instance, is not used only in the equine industry nor in the equine industry itself is it used only by the government accrediting body.   Our own equine management courses also use the word Level to denote our grading system.

The training is generally offered by colleges for school leavers – but parents should think carefully before going this route. 

College does NOT suit everyone and the course / qualifications in the end might not lead to any more than a grooms post at a local yard where you would earn the minimum wage.  In fact you could train and earn at the same time rather than going to college if college is not for you.

Training is offered at colleges or as an  alternative, whilst working at a stables/yard which has a training relationship with and works with one of the colleges for assessments of work and standards achieved.

Be aware that this route does not have a pathway to gaining teaching qualifications or professional rider qualifications.  Neither the colleges or yards offer any distance learning training or route for this type of professional qualification – they are all hands on training. Llantra in recent years carried out research which confirmed that employers in the industry generally prefer BHS qualifications.  Colleges gain grants for offering the National Diplomas so you generally have to pay extra for the ‘bolt on’ BHS training qualifications at college whilst at commercial equestrian centres the training for BHS qualifications is generally part and parcel of your training.

2.1) Apprenticeships: Some of the stables/yards offer apprenticeships

Apprenticeships combine practical training in a job with study.

As an apprentice you’ll:

  • work alongside experienced staff
  • gain job-specific skills
  • earn a wage and get holiday pay
  • get time for study related to your role (usually one day a week)

Apprenticeships take 1 to 5 years to complete depending on their level. Equine apprenticeships generally offer a Level 1 or 2 diploma depending on the length of time spent studying and training.  Apprenticeships have equivalent educational levels.

Name Level Equivalent educational level
Intermediate 2 GCSE
Advanced 3 A level
Higher 4,5,6 and 7 Foundation degree and above
Degree 6 and 7 Bachelor’s or master’s degree

Apprenticeships once again means the young person is working towards the ‘National Diplomas’.   This qualifies you as a groom – a person who knows and understands horses and has a good all round education in horse care.  The posts available on completion are usually a groom on minimum wage.  To find out more on the Apprenticeship system check this link for general information.  The British Grooms Association has list of positions which might be of interest.

Example from the City & Guilds website – The Level 1 Certificate in Equine Skills has been designed to provide a level 1 qualification practical equine skills, to meet the needs of learners, industry and other stakeholders.  To gain the Level 1 Certificate in Equine Skills candidates must complete five core units plus one optional unit which takes about 231 hours of guided learning – often over 1-2 yrs. The following are required units:

  • Handling horses under direction
  • Feeding and watering horses under direction
  • Mucking out and bedding down horses under direction
  • Grooming horses under direction
  • Putting on and removing horse rugs under direction.

If you want to work as a groom with horses, there are various training companies (private organisations) around the country that work with small and large riding centres and even quite small yards to assist and oversee Apprenticeships and training placements. To find out if they have connections with a yard in your area you could contact them direct to explain what you personally are looking for and see if they have any placements which fit your situation.

Examples of some of companies working with yards centres are

If you have found ANY of the above information useful it would really help us and others if you could drop us a simple email to to tell us it was helpful.  Thank you.



3.  The third option is not actually a training or qualification but is a skills standard via the British Grooms Association.

Equine Skills CV (ESCV)

This is the type of qualification you need to gain if you are aiming to be a Professional Groom and maybe work with competition riders:  This is the qualification we would suggest to anyone who does not wish to take the BHS route.

These qualifications offer a very strong and professional grooms qualification with specific yards via the Llantra accrediting route.

The sort of grooms we are talking about here are quite often those who work for top riders and travel with international competitors BUT they are not all so lucky.

See the British Grooms Association website for details of their Equine Skills CV (ESCV).  Ask your employer or your prospective employer if they might be interested in getting involved in offering professional grooms training via the British Grooms Association / Llantra.  Suggest the employer checks the site out and mention Lingfield Equine Distance Learning.  The BGA are very helpful so ring and chat to them.


4.  The Degree course – a college route

The 4th option is an academic route via college – this might be offer lots of hands on involvement during training but may not qualify you to work in a hands on capacity at more than grooms level.

If aiming for an office based career or science based career however it is much more useful.

We always suggest people do some research on the internet regarding degree courses – e.g. try this horse and hound forum giving personal feedback from those with degrees:

Colleges and career advisers at schools will often cite ‘yard management’ posts could be the future role of a graduate.  However, with so many students hoping to work in this area and so many students graduating there are loads of candidates for each post – most have to work their way up through from basic yard staff  (groom) before reaching a management post.  However, you should also remember that the majority of vacancies in riding schools and yards require practical knowledge and practical experience in the commercial world rather than a paper qualification directly from uni even though that might have entailed working with the horses at college and a placement during your years at uni.

The degree courses provide you with the qualifications required to gain a position where your academic skills can be used.  This is invariably an office or technical position where the sciences are a required subject – along with a good standard of education as a whole.

Career training is not cheap – hence the debt so many young people (or their parents) finish up with after going to college/uni and / or taking a degree course.

Such degrees would mean you are eligible to apply for positions as equine nutritionists with feed manufacturers (or on a freelance basis if you found sufficient demand) or as equestrian journalist, a racing yard secretary or a lecturer at an equine college, research and development at a university, a Racing Yard Secretary etc. etc.

The job market for equine degree students however, is in fact very limited.  Here are the very limited examples:

Nutritionists hold such degrees as described above and work mainly for the big feed companies so the positions are fairly limited.  They often work with the companies as support for the manufacturing side of things, but more often prepare sales and marketing information related to the technical side of feeds or for marketing purposes (advertising leaflets). They may be required to visit retailers to provide information or assistance and assist in promoting sales at the same time.  They also may be called upon once in a while to give talks to Pony Club children or Riding Clubs – this is comes under marketing and is all relevant to the marketing of the products for that company.  They are often on call on the phone or email or even online chat / help lines in the office – but that is usually just one small part of their office work time. View this link for an insight

Physiotherapy is another route some consider – but this is quite along process – and the degree courses are not that common for animal physios – a good deal of searching is required and it is best to contact the various Registers to find out what courses and training they accept.  Without the correct training you are not accepted on the register and cannot get insurance – nor generally work with vets.  Chartered Physios treat humans. Chartered Physios then undergo a further two years training to become an animal physio./ It should be understaood that there is no such thing as a ‘chartered animal physio’.

Journalists work for media companies – they spend a lot of time at their desk researching and contacting people and some of their time is taken with writing articles in the hope they will be published in magazines or on websites. They must be aware of the law relating to journalism.  Once again they would be involved in marketing the magazine.  Most would be employed in the office whilst some might have the opportunity to interview people.  Working on a local newspaper is often their first inroad into working as an equestrian journalist.  However, time spent out and about may be limited.

Equine Journalist:   View this link for an insight

The racing yard secretary – insight

Part time Leturer at an equine college – insight

Equine Behaviourist – insight into training

Finally we suggest parents also check out this page of our site

This answers some of the questions about whether or not your child should go to college to train or if there is local training available ?

Frequently asked questions about Lingfield

If you have found ANY of the above information useful it would really help us and others if you could drop us a simple email to to tell us it was helpful.  Thank you.

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