Horse riding holiday centre ride leaders organise and run horse and pony riding activities, particularly treks and hacks across open countryside. They may work with groups or individuals. Visitors can be first-time riders, novices or experienced riders.
They may also be responsible for:
Ride leaders may have to organise yard staff and train assistant ride leaders. They must also be able to take temporary charge of the centre when the owner or manager is away.
Working hours tend to be long and can include evening and weekend work, especially during the main holiday period. Many ride leaders work part time or seasonally. Most of the work takes place outdoors in all weather conditions.
Salaries may range from around £11,000 a year for an assistant ride leader to £18,000 or more for experienced ride leaders, though many jobs are seasonal only.
Ride leaders need to have an understanding of stable management, general horse care including horse health. They also need to be aware of health and safety requirements and be able to deal appropriately with any emergency situations.
Ride leaders work at riding or trekking centres. Centres are more common in rural areas, such as the National Parks of Dartmoor, Exmoor and the Lake District.
It may be an advantage, but is not always essential, to have riding and/or instructor qualifications. Employers may prefer applicants with experience of horse care and management. Some ride leaders have first worked as assistant ride leaders.
Ride leaders are given introductory training by their employers. They may work towards Diplomas in work-based horse care at Levels 1 and 2 and in horse care and management at Level 3 (previous NVQ title).
Equine Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships may provide a suitable training route.
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.
Before working with children, applicants must undergo checks through the Criminal Records Bureau.
Experienced ride leaders may work towards the EQL Level 2 Assistant Ride Leader and/or the Level 3 Certificate for ride leaders in equestrian tourism.
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A holiday centre ride leader should:
It may be possible for experienced ride leaders to work abroad or to become centre managers by studying for further qualifications.
The British Horse Society (BHS),
Stoneleigh Deer Park, Kenilworth,
Warwickshire CV8 2XZ
Tel: 0844 848 1666
Additional resources for job seekers and those already in a job.