Horse Instructor/Coach

The Job and What's Involved

Horse instructors/coaches teach people of all ages, levels of ability and experience to ride. This could range from teaching the complete beginner to coaching professional competitors.

An instructor/coach may be employed at a stable yard or work freelance. Health and safety awareness is an essential part of the role.

Tasks may include:

  • Assessment of horse and rider.
  • Group and individual lessons for people who want to ride as a leisure activity.
  • Preparing, delivering and evaluating coaching sessions with individual riders or teams to prepare for competitions.
  • Developing lesson plans and instructing students and individuals working towards equestrian qualifications.
  • Giving practical demonstrations.
  • Teaching classroom theory sessions.
  • Instructing groups on stable management.
  • Making sure training is carried out safely, fairly and in a suitable environment with correct use of equipment.
  • Advising the beginner rider on safe and appropriate clothing and conduct.

Other tasks may include:

- Managing a stable yard
- Supervising staff
- Training horses
- Assessing staff
- Office management
- Event management

The hours of work vary and normally include evenings and weekends. The work can also be seasonal. Some instructors work away from home or live in at the riding establishment. The work can take place outside in all weathers, inside in indoor arenas and on the stable yard.

Instructors/coaches should be smartly dressed. Many wear jodhpurs and riding boots and they will wear a hard hat when riding.

Apprentices and grooms with no formal teaching qualifications may earn from around £7,500 to £12,000. Preliminary or assistant instructors may earn £10 to £20 per hour freelance or £12,000 to £15,000 a year in employment.

More experienced and qualified instructors/coaches may earn £15 to £40 per hour freelance or £15,000 to £28,000 a year.

The rate of pay also depends upon the size of the centre, qualifications, experience and whether accommodation, meals and further training are part of the salary.

A freelance instructor's earnings would depend on experience, success in attracting business and the number of hours worked.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Instructors/coaches may work for:

- Riding schools
- Competition yards
- Private stables
- Agricultural or equine college stables
- Trekking centres
- Riding holiday centres
- The Pony Club

Jobs are advertised on the British Horse Society (BHS) website, on specialist websites including www.yardandgroom.co.uk, www.theequinest.com and www.equine-world.co.uk and in Horse and Hound magazine.

There are 350 riding schools that are members of Association of British Riding Schools (ABRS), which represents less than half the total number. BHS has over 2,600 instructors on its register. Riding schools have to be registered with the local authority, but do not have to be members of any organisation. Riding schools can range in size from those with only one instructor to those employing a dozen or more.

Education and Training

Employers will usually expect qualifications from the BHS or ABRS.

BHS offers various levels of instructor qualifications:

  • BHS Assistant Instructor Certificate (BHSAI)
  • BHS Intermediate Instructor Certificate (BHSII)
  • BHS Instructor (BHSI)

These are exam-based qualifications for which the candidate is required to complete practical and theoretical tasks. Candidates need to be members of the BHS.

The following instructor qualifications are available through ABRS:

  • ABRS Initial Teaching Award
  • ABRS Teaching Certificate (for those 20 or over)
  • Advanced Teaching Diploma

These exams are practical and do not involve written papers or require membership of the ABRS.

UK Coaching Certificates (UKCC) are available. These are suitable for individuals who have experience in competing and wish to become a coach in dressage, show jumping, eventing, driving, vaulting, reining and endurance.

It is also possible to complete a qualification such as a First or National Diploma in horse care offering training towards instructor qualifications as part of the course.

An Apprenticeship may also provide the opportunity to train towards becoming an instructor/coach.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships, Careers Wales www.careerswales.com; and for Northern Ireland contact www.careersserviceni.com.

The Diploma in environmental and land-based studies may also be an advantageous qualification to have achieved.

Instructors/coaches working with children and young people will need Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) clearance.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

After completing the BHS training, experienced instructors can apply for Fellowship of the BHS (FBHS). It is intended for those with experience of riding and teaching at a high level. Fellows are usually expected to give lectures and demonstrations.

ABRS offers a Principal's Diploma for candidates who have been a riding school owner or principal for over five years.

Other specialist instructor awards are available through organisations such as the Pony Club and the British Driving Society.

Equine-related foundation degrees and degrees are available at a number of universities and colleges. These could provide the opportunity for an instructor/coach to specialise in an area such as equine behaviour and sports therapy or progress into management. It is important to check individual universities and colleges for specific entry requirements, as they can vary widely.

The BHS Register of Instructors provides liability insurance and regular training sessions for registered BHS qualified instructors.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

Instructors/coaches should:

  • Be patient and able to work with riders of all abilities.
  • Enjoy working with people and be able to communicate well with all age groups.
  • Have good equestrian skills - ideally, instructors should competently ride at least one level higher than their students.
  • Be able to work without supervision and have the ability to motivate and supervise people.
  • Have business and clerical skills.
  • Know the importance of acknowledging progress and giving advice on areas to improve.
  • Be able to conduct a risk assessment.

Your Long Term Prospects

A fully qualified instructor could progress to become a senior instructor at a riding school. There may also be opportunities to work abroad.

Instructors can also train to progress up the scale of instructors and apply for an International Equestrian Trainers Passport, which is recognised by 27 countries.

Get Further Information

Association of British Riding Schools (ABRS),
Queens Chambers, 38-40 Queen Street,
Penzance, Cornwall TR18 4BH
Tel: 01736 369440
Website: www.abrs-info.org

British Driving Society (BDS),
83 New Road, Helmingham,
Stowmarket, Suffolk IP14 6EA
Tel: 01473 892001
Website: www.britishdrivingsociety.co.uk

British Equestrian Federation (BEF),
Stoneleigh Park, Kenilworth,
Warwickshire CV8 2RH
Tel: 02476 698871
Website: www.bef.co.uk

British Horse Society (BHS),
Stoneleigh Park, Kenilworth,
Warwickshire CV8 2XZ
Tel: 0844 848 1666
Website: www.bhs.org.uk

International Group for Equestrian Qualifications,
396 Nuneaton Road, Bulkington,
Warwickshire CV12 9RR
Website: www.igeq.org

Lantra, Lantra House, Stoneleigh Park,
near Coventry, Warwickshire CV8 2LG
Tel: 0845 707 8007
Websites: www.lantra.co.uk, www.lantracoursefinder.co.uk
and www.afuturein.com

Pony Club, Stoneleigh Park,
Kenilworth, Warwickshire CV8 2RW
Tel: 02476 698300
Website: www.pcuk.org

Riding for the Disabled Association,
Norfolk House,1a Tournament Court,
Edgehill Drive, Warwick CV34 6LG
Tel: 0845 658 1082
Website: www.rda.org.uk

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