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Equine Careers: BHS Qualifications

Equine Careers: BHS Qualifications

So as we embark on a new year change and self-improvement comes on to the radar once more. Whether to gain qualifications is always a hotly debated topic and many have strong opinions on the subject. There is no doubt about it that the BHS qualifications are prized highly throughout the world and will, especially when combined with additional practical experience, make you more sought after in certain areas of the equestrian job market both at home and abroad. They can be a door opener and an income booster in many situations! We are delighted to have another guest blogger on board to start the review on this big subject.

Alice Padolsey is a BHSAI/Stage 3 Coach based in Oxfordshire. She has had a passion for horses for as long as she can remember.  Once Alice took the plunge she got her first job in the equestrian industry, working at a training centre in North London where she started on her BHS path. Over the last 2 years Alice has had experience with Dressage, Eventing, Hunting and lots of teaching. She is wanting to continue her studies to become a BHS Accredited Coach and hopefully a BHS Fellow one day and combines the practical with the academic in a very savvy fashion!

Do take a moment to read this, whether you want to be a groom, a rider or a coach, it could seriously improve your prospects! Over to you Alice – great to have you on the team!



British Horse Society Career Pathways

by Alice Padolsey 

BHS Qualifications - British Horse Society Career Pathways

  • Have you ever wanted to gain your British Horse Society qualifications but never thought they’d be relevant?
  • Ever wanted to have the BHS qualifications to boost your CV, but didn’t have the time?
  • Ever wanted to be a specialist dressage rider but didn’t have the money?


As part of our new series EQUINE CAREERS: HOW GROOMS CAN INCREASE THEIR SALARY, we now bring to light another topic – equine qualifications and how they can increase your earnings, and more specifically talking about the NEW BHS Excellence Pathways and what it means to us.


The new BHS training structure

Back in July the BHS launched its new learning platform, which now offers a route for all equestrian careers – be it professional grooming, riding or coaching. This was all done with the intention of modernising the system and making sure every skill that is gained through the BHS exams makes you more employable.

I have outlined below all you need to know about each pathway…


1. The ‘Groom’ Pathway

The BHS Groom Pathway is aimed for people looking to have a career as a professional groom – perfect for those wanting to be a foundation groom, senior groom/head groom, riding centre manager, stud manager, yard manager of different disciplines or an equestrian business manager.

Exams included in the ‘Groom’ pathway are:

  • Stage 1 – Care
  • Stage 2 – Foundation Groom
  • Stage 3 – Groom
  • Stage 4 – Senior Groom
  • Stage 5 – Stable Manager


Equine Careers - BHS Career Pathways - Riding2. The ‘Rider’ Pathway

The BHS Professional Rider Pathway is for those wanting practical riding skills. This is especially useful for those wanting to become a professional dressage or jumping rider. The stages of this pathway include riding a horse individually, understanding the scales of training for the horse, adapting your riding to suit any horse, to then being able to train horses up to advanced medium dressage and jumping a course up to 1.15m.

Exams included in the ‘Rider’ pathway are:

  • Stage 1 – Ride
  • Stage 2 – Foundation Rider
  • Stage 3 – Rider
  • Stage 4 – Senior Rider
  • Stage 5 – Performance Rider


Equine Careers - BHS Career Pathways - Accredited Coach3. The ‘Coach’ Pathway

The BHS Coaching Pathway is ideal for those who have a passion for teaching. This pathway would enable you to effectively teach skills to entry-level and professional-level students alike, under many disciplines (dressage, show jumping, eventing, etc.)

Exams included in the ‘Coach’ pathway are:

  • Stage 1 – Complete Horsemanship
  • Stage 2 – Complete Horsemanship
  • Stage 3 – Coach
  • Stage 4 – Senior Coach
  • Stage 5 – Performance Coach
  • Stage 6 – Fellow


What does this mean for us?

In a nutshell… 

Prior to the BHS making these changes if, as ‘a groom’, you wanted BHS qualifications you had to do all the teaching exams and riding exams to become a Stable Manager, whereas now (as stated above) you would only have to do the relevant training and exams.


Pros and cons of these exams…


  • You gain valuable and applicable knowledge
  • It boosts your CV, increases your ’employability’, qualifying you for jobs across the world
  • It demonstrates dedication and a good work ethic


  • It takes time and dedication to gain these qualifications
  • It costs money (training, exams, material etc)

If you’re worrying about costs you should note that, given what the BHS have changed, getting to your goals has been cut into thirds, meaning you no longer have to pay to train or be examined in areas that do not interest you.


The practicality of getting BHS qualifications

Even though we have fully immersed ourselves into ’working life’, it is still very possible to gain BHS qualifications in a number of ways…

  • Working Student. The majority of BHS Accredited Yards are always looking for working students to join their team. These roles are great as you can get between 4-8 hours of training a week, exam fees are paid for and you still get a decent pay package.
  • BHS Scholarship Programme. The British Horse Society are well aware that the finance is a stumbling block for most equine workers and this is why they have set up a £250,000 programme. This programme is not for the faint hearted though – the BHS have an interview process to get the scholarship and constant affiliation with a BHS yard is required.
  • DIY (doing it yourself). This can either be the hardest way to get your exams or the easiest. Finding your accredited BHS trainer and or yard is the hard bit, along with being very disciplined with your own training. Once that is mastered, the exams fall nicely in line.
  • College. Colleges are a great way to get your exams as they have a range of courses to suit any individual. Hartpury College in Gloucestershire is a great example of somewhere you can gain your BHS qualifications on a part time or full time basis.


The costs of gaining BHS qualifications

Correct at time of publishing – December 2017

The Grooms List - BHS Pathways Exam Fees - Caroline Carter Recruitment

You can now see the reason why so many grooms have signed up for the BHS exams in 2018! Having to only pay £110 in comparison to £175 looks a lot more appealing, and knowing that it may boost your earnings by the same margin (35%) is just the icing on the cake.


In my opinion, is it worth it?

Yes, because my passion is to be a professional coach and so, right now, it’s not worth the cost in time and money to be examined in areas that I am not professionally pursuing. If I later become interested in another area, I can always pursue these separately. This flexibility gives me a much greater level of control over my aspirations.

I think it’s amazing that the BHS now have these three main pathways, accommodating so many more people in the equine world, and I can’t wait to continue down my coaching pathway!


Useful Links

BHS Excellence Pathways:

BHS Groom Pathways:

BHS Rider Pathways:

BHS Coach Pathways:

Find an Assessment:

Find a Training Centre:

Find an Accredited Coach:–coach



Image credit: all images © British Horse Society


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The content provided in this article is for informational purposes only. It is the responsibility of the individual to ensure that the information they are working to is correct and appropriate for their specific circumstances.

© Caroline Carter Recruitment Ltd and The Grooms List, 2018. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Caroline Carter Recruitment Ltd and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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© Caroline Carter Recruitment Ltd and The Grooms List, 2018. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Caroline Carter Recruitment Ltd and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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