Horse Riding Instructor Career Advice
If you are wondering how to become a horse riding instructor, below are tips and advice on training for and beginning careers in this area of working with animals or agriculture, as well as job prospects in the UK.
The Job Description
Horse riding instructors teach people of all ages, levels of ability and experience to ride.
teaching people who want to ride as a leisure activity
helping individual riders or teams to prepare for competitions such as show jumping, eventing and dressage
developing training programmes suited to individual riders
giving practical demonstrations
observing riders in order to spot and help correct problems
making sure training is carried out safely.
The key personal attributes of horse riding instructors include:
good horse riding skills
patience with riders of all abilities
the ability to communicate well with all age groups
the ability to motivate and supervise people
first aid skills
the ability to remain calm under pressure
business and clerical skills if self-employed.
How to become a horse riding instructor
Employers will often expect you to have qualifications from the British Horse Society (BHS) or Association of British Riding Schools (ABRS). To gain the qualifications you will need to do training which will give you the skills and knowledge needed to pass the BHS or ABRS exams.
If you will be working with children, young people or other vulnerable groups of people you will need CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) clearance.
BHS qualifications for instructors are:
BHS Preliminary Teaching Test
Assistant Instructor Certificate (BHSAI)
Intermediate Instructor Certificate (BHSII)
BHS Instructor’s Certificate (BHSI)
Fellowship of the BHS.
To take the BHS exams you must be a member of the BHS.
ABRS exams are practical and do not involve written papers. You do not need to be a member of the ABRS to take the exams, which include:
ABRS Initial Teaching Award
ABRS Teaching Certificate.
Contact the BHS and the ABRS or visit their websites (in Further Information) for full details of their respective qualifications.
You can train for the qualifications in several ways:
on an Apprenticeship scheme
attending a college course
as a fee-paying student at a riding school (fees tend to be high)
through private study and distance learning programmes if you are employed in a related area.
You can do other specialist instructor awards through organisations such as the Pony Club and the British Driving Society. To work with people with disabilities, you should have a Riding for the Disabled Association Instructors' Certificate. See Further Information for contact details for these organisations.
You can do equine-related BTEC HNDs, foundation degrees and degrees at a number of universities and colleges. These are not needed for working as a riding instructor, but could be useful if you want to progress into management.
For information about foundation degrees see Foundation Degree Forward. To search for colleges and universities offering foundation degrees, HNDs and degrees see Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). You should check entry requirements with individual colleges or universities.
You may be able to get into this job through an Apprenticeship scheme. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers.
Training and Development
When you are qualified as an instructor there are several options for further qualifications which could be useful for developing your career.
If you have qualified with the BHS, you can apply for an International Trainer’s Passport. Visit the International Group for Equestrian Qualifications website to find out more about this.
You can join the BHS Register of Instructors if you have passed the BHS examinations, attended a child protection awareness course and have a relevant first aid qualification. See the BHS website for details.
The ABRS offers:
ABRS Advanced Teaching Diploma
ABRS Principals Diploma – you must have been a riding school proprietor or principal for over five years.
Visit the ABRS website to find out more about the qualifications.
The British Equestrian Federation (BEF) is developing a new UK Coaching Certificate (UKCC) for Equestrian Sport and Leisure which will be relevant if you are involved in teaching, training or instructing. This will be a five-level framework based on national standards, which will give you nationally recognised and transferable professional qualifications. Visit the BEF website for more details.
The Pay (a rough guide)
Starting salaries for trainee and assistant instructors are likely to be up to £12,000 a year.
Experienced instructors are likely to earn up to £24,000.
You could work as a horse riding instructor in riding schools, competition yards, private stables and agricultural or equine college stables. Trekking centres, riding holiday centres and the Pony Club may also offer seasonal work. You may have to do other tasks such as grooming.
As a fully qualified instructor, you could become a head or senior instructor at a riding school, or a competition judge. You may have the opportunity to work abroad – the International Equestrian Passport for instructors is recognised by 27 countries.
When you have experience as an instructor you could become self-employed and possibly work on a freelance basis for several centres. Another option would be to run your own riding school.
Association of British Riding Schools (ABRS)
38-40 Queen Street
Tel: 01736 369440