If you’re looking to start a career in the equine industry, the BHS Stages including the associated career pathways, will place you right where you need to be for a career working with horses.
A worldwide recognised educational programme, The BHS Stages (British Horse Society Stages), have been available for many years. Today, they are delivered through a variety of career pathways to make sure students are well-equipped with knowledge, education and experience.
Here we take a look at both the stages, and pathways, to help give a well-rounded overview of the different career paths available.
Written by Laura Hood, Head of Education Development at The British Horse Society
Every person in equestrianism has different goals, and each journey is unique – whether you want to ride professionally, care for horses or even coach the next generation.
However, whichever route you choose, qualifications and hands on experience will undoubtedly give you the best start possible and set you apart from others.
The BHS Career Pathways aim to provide you with qualifications, skills and confidence to go for that dream role. Whatever your career aspirations; working at the stables, in the saddle or even the commentary box, there’s a BHS pathway for you.
Where to start?
Regardless of the role in question, it’s essential to have a strong foundation of equine knowledge for you to build on. The BHS Stage 2 Foundation Coach in Complete Horsemanship will provide an industry recognised basis for your career.
You’ll gain a taster of the skills required for different roles too. You may be inspired to be Laura Collett’s new groom, the next eventing superstar or a proprietor of a riding school – the opportunities are endless, and a plethora of new skills will be at your fingertips.
This practical-based knowledge goes beyond horse care, riding and coaching, it’s also relevant if you don’t wish to work directly with horses. From journalism and graphic design to finance and farriery, it will be advantageous to have foundation knowledge in horsemanship.
Upon completion of this career certificate, the BHS encourages equestrians to continue their education. Learning should be a lifelong progression and adopting a comprehensive approach to developing your career will put you in good stead for success.
Coaching in complete horsemanship: The BHS Coaching Pathway
If you enjoy inspiring others and are looking to train our next generation, from entry level to professional competition riders, then coaching could be the role for you. It can be a very fulfilling and rewarding career, and the opportunities on offer our vast; it can lead to senior management roles or even running your own yard.
The BHS Pathways programme for coaches covers riding, lungeing, horse care and stable management, and coaching. A comprehensive coaching pathway offers a complete 360 of skills and knowledge in equitation.
Not all disciplines will appeal to everyone. The Coaching Pathway allows you to focus your coaching skills within one discipline, whether that be dressage, show jumping or eventing. From stage 3, you have the opportunity to focus your riding on that discipline and from stage 4 and above you can hone down your coaching skills.
The programme is internationally recognised too, with coaching qualifications from Stage 3 and above providing you with the chance to apply for an Equestrian Passport. This means that your qualifications will be accepted in IGEQ member countries, making it easier to teach in other parts of the world.
No matter what discipline, you could follow in the footsteps of equestrians Carl Hester MBE, Kylie Roddy and Yogi Breisner MBE to become the next BHS Fellow! Following the BHS Coaching Pathway will make this possible.
Extensive equine management: The BHS Groom Pathway
Riding may not be your core focus, instead you may wish to pursue a career as a groom or manager. After all, the career prospects are diverse, from working for professional riders or a stud yard, to managing an extensive equestrian business.
A professional with this career will require broad equestrian knowledge and practical ability, including the handling of horses, equine health, anatomy, saddlery and shoeing, to name just a few.
The BHS Groom Pathway incorporates all those skills, assessing you on your knowledge to manage the day-to-day activity and welfare of the horses under your care. Supporting and celebrating those wishing to pursue a career as a groom, it takes you from Stage 1 Care to Performance Centre Manager.
As you move up the stages, you’ll learn to establish an awareness of the current legislation for working within a stable yard environment. You too will be able to demonstrate an ability to independently manage an equestrian business, including yard and grassland maintenance, marketing, customer care, as well as managing staff, accounts and record keeping.
The Performance Centre Manager will allow you to fill a senior strategic management position within an equestrian business, such as an equine college or large equestrian centre.
This qualification will also give you the leg up you need to support the training and development of junior staff and BHS career students, in addition to offering advice and guidance to clients of horse care and management.
A 360 view of equestrianism: Groom with Riding Pathway
Perhaps you want to combine the responsibilities of caring for, producing and exercising horses? The BHS Groom with Riding Pathway provides the practical riding skills and knowledge to support a rider or groom who has responsibility for the management and training of a horse.
Progressing along this pathway will enable you to gain a sound awareness of horse care and stable management to supplement your career, and an empathy and feel for riding in order to develop horses.
It’s a perfect mix, accumulating in the Performance Centre Manager with Riding qualification. This qualification takes the fundamentals of the Performance Centre Manager criteria, with the addition of working as a rider and trainer of horses. This includes taking responsibility for keeping them fit, as well as their progression and care for competition.
Learning to lead the way: Ride Leader Pathway
There are a range of opportunities on offer across the equine industry. When you are thinking about your long-term goals, make sure you do your research. Ask yourself, is this my passion?
For those who have a great interest in travel and adventure, there are some exciting roles in equestrian tourism. This includes a ride leader, commercial centre manager or tour operator, providing guidance for someone planning their dream holiday.
The BHS Ride Leader Pathway will support you on this journey, as a recognised career route for anyone wishing to pursue a career in this field. You will learn a variety of skills, such as horse husbandry, horse health and nutrition, organising escorted rides, horse riding skills for escorting clients and customer service.
Starting with the Stage 1 Complete Horsemanship, you can work your way up to the BHS Performance Centre Manager, which endorses your in-depth knowledge in managing a commercial business.
You may find yourself working at a commercial centre that offers riding lessons as well as the usual tourism hacks and treks, particularly if working in the UK. The BHS Coach in Complete Horsemanship Pathway will also help you develop the necessary skills to upskill and support a coaching element to your career.
A pathway for everyone
There’s not always one way of doing things and certainly not one approach to take in the equine industry. No matter what path you take, however, it is important to be able to demonstrate enthusiasm and care with every action you taken.
The welfare of the horse must remain at the heart of all you do – that is something that sets the BHS Career Pathways apart from the rest.
To learn more about the BHS Career Pathways and to get started, visit the BHS website.
Training for the BHS assessments should include a mix of practical training and practice, workshops, events and revision or study at home. The BHS strongly recommend training with a BHS Approved Centre or an Accredited Professional Coach.