Clarissa's Stage 1 Story

Clarissa Jones successfully took her BHS Stage 1 in March 2013. Read about her experiences and tips below.

Clarissa JonesMy exam started promptly and we were briefed by the chief examiner and two other examiners, who all were friendly and approachable. There were 10 candidates in total and we were split into two groups.  The chief examiner advised that he would be acting as a moderator of sorts and would move between the two groups throughout the day to ensure that everything was running smoothly.

My group did Unit 1 of the syllabus first, while group two went to ride. We were each allocated a horse in a stable and asked to prepare the stable and horse for work with the equipment given. While we did this the examiner walked around to observe and to give us instructions. We were all asked to comment on the condition of the horse's shoes, demonstrate how to quarter the horse, apply a tail bandage, tack-up and name parts of the saddle and bridle.

The ridden section was next, and the chief examiner watched a large part of this section. I was worried that I would have to mount from the ground as I am not particularly light on my feet (and my first horse was 17hh!), but luckily we were given the option of a leg-up or mounting block. The ridden section passed by in a blur. Instructions were called out and you had to follow them, either individually or as a ride. I think the key point is to listen to the instructions and remember to breathe, especially during the work without stirrups! Even if you feel you have made a mistake you must remain positive and focus on the rest of the exam.

After riding we sat in a group and had a relaxed discussion covering almost everything in Unit 3. We then were sent to muck out in pairs, while the examiner walked around and observed and asked us questions on bedding.

The last section of the exam was feeding and watering, which we covered in quite a lot of depth. In pairs we outlined a feeding regime for a horse and pony in light work, including percentages and ratios.  We also had discuss the rules of feeding and identify different types of feed, so make sure you know your oats from your barley!

I was nervous before the exam but you become so focused on the task at hand that you soon forget your nerves. You do need to be confident and efficient. When you are questioned try to expand your answers to show you are knowledgeable. If you have lots to say and are confident in saying it – and it makes sense – then the examiners tend to leave you alone.  

The most important piece of advice I can give is that you revise the entire syllabus, the theory, ridden and practical parts, because you don’t know what you will or won’t be asked on the day!

Even if you feel you've made a mistake, you must remain positive and focus on the rest of the exam. 

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