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Careers and the BHS

Training for a Career with Horses

A career in the equestrian industry requires hard work and determination - but the result is an interesting and rewarding way to earn your living. 

The British Horse Society’s advice to all young people is that GCSEs and A-Levels or their equivalents are just as important in this industry as they are in any other sphere - not as a requirement for good horsemanship but to prove your diligence and determination.

The amount of direct contact you have with horses will vary depending on the path you choose and it's important to make an assessment of your preferences and abilities when choosing the career you want to pursue. Here, we've put together some information about careers in the equine industry and how BHS qualifications can prepare you for employment. 

Good luck!

Starting off

Whatever career you decide to embark on, qualifications and hands-on experience will enable you to get a better job. Of course, a real love of horses will give you the motivation to work whatever the weather and hour. Employers hold practical-based vocational qualifications in high regard, as candidates aren't only assessed on their knowledge but also their skills ‘on the job’.

We recommend taking basic qualifications, whichever career path you choose to go down. The BHS Stage 1 or 2, or the EQL Level 2 Work Based Diploma (WBD) or Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQ), are the ideal way to begin your professional journey. You can start Stage 1 at 14 years old, and Stage 2 and the WBD/SVQ at 16 years old. They will prepare you well for almost any career with horses.

The next stage will then depend on your own particular leanings or career aspirations. Specialist career books and DVDs are available from our shop, with help always on hand from the bookshop team on 02476 840513.

Who are EQL?

Equestrian Qualifications GB Limited (EQL) is a subsidiary of the BHS and stands alone in its remit to award equestrian qualifications. EQL is an awarding body recognised by Ofqual and the Scottish Qualifications Authority and, as such, must comply with a range of conditions including robust assurance for developing and awarding qualifications. Most of our professional qualifications are Ofqual regulated and are on the National Framework.

Why BHS Qualifications?

The British Horse Society offers vocational qualifications written against professional industry standards. Ours is one of the most widely respected examinations systems in the world. 

A recent survey carried out by Lantra* reported that BHS examinations are chosen by the majority of equestrian employers. All of the Society’s exams follow an established, robust and high-quality method of exploring candidates’ equitation, teaching/coaching and stable management skills, catering for every level from novice owners and beginners through to international experts.

The BHS Stage exams comprise units and small qualifications, enabling you to personalise your learning. It's possible to sit all the units leading to a qualification in one day, but candidates can also ‘pick and mix’ units. It's even possible just to take the Horse Knowledge and Care exams, if riding isn’t your thing.  

BHS exams are held throughout the majority of the year at Approved Centres. With over 84 of these centres worldwide, finding one that suits you shouldn't be a problem.

The BHS Education team will be happy to guide you through the exams structure. Browse our site, email or give the team a call on 02476 840508. Advice, guidelines and a syllabus are available for every level, so you can be confident in what you'll be asked to do and also sure you're making the right choice in taking BHS exams. 

Work-Based Diplomas and Scottish Vocational Qualifications

Work-based diplomas (WBDs) replaced National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland from January 2011. Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) are available in Scotland. Assessment takes place either in the workplace or at an approved assessment location on a continuous basis. These qualifications have been developed by the equine industry from the equine National Occupational Standards.

Qualifications based in the workplace are ideal if you're looking for employment or progression in the equine industry and prefer to be assessed on a continuous basis at their place of work or training. 

The qualifications are available at Levels 1 and 2 in Horse Care and Level 3 in Horse Care and Management. Level 1 you can take from 14 years old, Level 2 and Level 3 from 16 years old. They're made up of a number of mandatory and optional units at Levels 2 and 3. Candidates are awarded the full qualification when they've been assessed and verified as being at the required standard. Unit certification is available for candidates who prefer to complete individual units or are unable to complete the full award. These qualifications can also be used for direct entry into BHS Stage Exams.

The full standards required for WBDs and SVQs can be found on the EQL website. Alternatively, call the Education team on 02476 840508 for more information.


An apprenticeship is a package of learning and qualifications combined with practical work experience gained through employment. It gives you a mixture of hands-on experience with an employer combined with off-the-job learning to provide you with the skills and knowledge you need for the career of your choice as well as still earning a wage. 

There are many apprenticeship opportunities within the equine industry, and many offer BHS Stage exams and/or WBDs as part of the framework. They are available to learners aged 16 or over and usually offered at three different levels which take between one to three years to complete, depending on the industry and the level offered. 

Further information is available from the National Apprenticeship Service which supports, funds and co-ordinates the delivery of Apprenticeships throughout England. The Lantra Course Finder also provides information on what courses and training is available across England and Wales.

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