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Participation Project - England

What is the Participation Project?

The aim of the project is to create an informal community through Livery Yards, Riding Centres, British Riding Clubs and Centres using a suitably qualified Accredited Professional Coach (formally the BHS Register of Instructors), providing horse owners with access to a network of advice, knowledge and education, enabling them to gain confidence and ride more frequently. 

By creating a community, participants will also become more involved in social activities with like-minded people. The Participation Project was a pilot scheme that proved to be incredibly successful, and it is now the aim to develop the community nationally across the UK. 

What did we learn from the pilot? 

The pilot was incredibly successful, involving eight centres running the Essential Horse Knowledge Certificate (EHKC) and Progressive Riding Test (PRT) courses. Feedback received from the participants, the instructors and Livery Yard Champions showed that 14% of participants are now riding more frequently since being part of the Participation Project. This demonstrates that by giving people the opportunity to get more involved with the BHS, we can get them more engaged with their horse.

What type of activities can be run as part of the Participation Project?

The two courses that have been successful in the pilot are:
• The Essential Horse Knowledge Certificate (EHKC), which is a theory-based course that can be held on the yard, in a tack room, or stable, or even in the local village hall or pub. 
• The Progressive Riding Tests (PRT) are much more practical, with riding and stable management tasks included. Therefore, access to horses and a yard is required. These can be using the participants’ own horses or it can be held at a licensed riding school, training yard etc. 

Other potential activities to get involved with:
• BHS Stage 1, Care and/or Riding
• BHS Riding School Certificate of Competence
• BHS fun rides
• Volunteering activities via BHS regional events or BRC competitions
• BHS regional activities and events organised by Development Officers
• Interdressage competition, includes dressage, showing and unmounted fun activities, filmed and entered in competitions online
• Links to Team Quest from British Dressage and BE80 from British Eventing
• Equine First Aid – a new course for this year. Contact your regional manager for more details. 

What is the Essential Horse Knowledge Certificate?

The EHKC is a classroom-based recreational qualification that is delivered by suitably qualified Accredited Professional Coach. These qualifications are held at two levels: Entry Level and Level One. They are designed to provide a sound foundation of equestrian knowledge to the learner and are aimed at the first time horse-owner, sharer or loaner. This also includes parents who are considering buying ponies/horses for their children or for anyone wanting a refresher on their equine care theory. 

Training can vary, too, from short intensive courses to an evening class held over as many weeks as the instructor wishes to hold. This is dependent on the participant experience levels and will vary accordingly. The courses can be as formal/informal as you wish, over a coffee and cake or as a classroom session. At the end of the course there is just a short written paper to gain the qualification. 

The EHKC can be run by Riding Centres, Livery Yards, BRC Clubs and Centres, as long as the course is delivered by a suitably qualified Accredited Professional Coach.

What are the Progressive Riding Tests (PRT)?

The PRTs are a popular option for riding, livery and BRC centre clients. All six tests have Riding and Stable Management sections, both of which can be taken separately. Each syllabus has a number of elements that need to be signed off by the instructor as the learner is ready to be assessed. On the successful completion of each test, the Centre can issue the candidate with a certificate. Once all six tests have been completed, the candidate will be able to gain direct entry into BHS Stage 2 examination.

PRTs can be run in Riding Centres and Livery Yards and for affilated British Riding Clubs with suitably qualified Accredited Professional Coach.

Which Coaches are eligible to run these courses?

To run either the EHKC or the PRT courses, the Coach needs to be an Accredited Professional Coach instructor (formally the BHS Register of Instructors). The instructor must hold a minimum of the BHSPT to run the EHKC course.

To run the Junior PRTs and Levels 1-4 of the PRTs you must hold a minimum of the BHSAI and for Levels 5 -6 a minimum of the BHSII.

Accredited Professional Coach’s can run PRTs for affiliated British Riding Clubs.

Which centres are eligible?

A centre or livery yard wishing to run a participation course must be:
• Able to ensure qualified staff can coach participants through the programme (see above)
• Able to follow BHS guidelines for delivery, and open to feedback from clients throughout the courses
• Able to report back to the BHS on your progress and be open to being included in promotional activity
• Complete the participation forms required
• Willing to promote the project locally to horse owners or potential horse owners.

Can pilot project yards still be included in the national rollout?

We hope that the pilot yards will continue to be part of the project. Having seen the benefits for both the livery yard and their clients by running the EHKC and/or PRT courses and will continue to hold these courses for more clients – or train existing clients further to achieve the higher levels. Pilot yards could also think about joining a British Riding Club (BRC) or becoming a BRC centre. The BHS are also producing new courses and activities so keep an eye on our website for new things to do.
Who can be a participant?

The great thing about this project is that it is open to all, especially those who are wishing to gain further knowledge and increase their confidence with and around horses – whether this is as a horse owner, rider, sharer or a mum and dad wishing to gain further equine knowledge. Everyone can get involved in conjunction with their local Riding Centre, Livery Yard or Accredited Professional Coach. 

What are the benefits to the centres and participants?
• Toolkit for each participant and instructor/centre
• Access to support, advice and resources to engage your livery yard clients
• Access to BHS activities in your area and a network of support
• Gaining a qualification
• Increase participation with your horse and your peers.

What is in the centre toolkit?

Each centre will get a participant toolkit as well as their own centre pack that includes:
• Box file
• Posters to advertise the courses
• Book – ‘101 Schooling exercises for Horse and Rider’ by Jaki Bell
• BHS Stage 1 Manual
• Branded USB stick (course materials, FAQs and promotional material).

What is in the participant toolkit?

Each participant will receive a toolkit that will include the following:
• Drawstring bag
• Notepad
• Pen
• BHS earwarmer
• Popper wallet
• Sweets

What will it cost the centre/ Accredited Professional Coach?

There is no fee. 

The centre will charge the participants for any training fees but there are no fees payable from the centre to the BHS. This is now an extra benefit for being an Approved Centre or for being an Accredited Professional Coach. We hope it will be an opportunity to further engage with your clients and for them to participate in more activities and boost not just your income but your centre’s community. 

What will the cost be to the participant?

It is entirely down to the centre to set the course fees. PRTs can be run on stable management days – or in normal riding lessons. As an approximation, recent EHKC courses ranged from £60-150 run between six to ten weeks; this is dependent on the area and fees for centre/coach. 

Is there any funding?

The project is being funded by Sport England through the British Equestrian Federation and The British Horse Society to ensure that we increase participation at grassroots level. After feedback from all centres who took part in the pilot project, the funding will be used to provide student and organiser toolkits which include lots of useful materials and goodies to aid anyone who is delivering or attending any one of the courses. 

The British Horse Society is waiving any certification fees for both the EHKC and PRT courses.

How do I get involved?

• BHS and BRC Approved Clubs and Centres interested in joining the project – contact us:
North – Becky Lindley, or 07773 043103
South – Michelle Davis, or 07773 043112
• Livery yards and centres should contact for more information on the project.
• BHS Volunteer Committees interested in promoting the project to local yards and or helping to run organise courses and EHKC training in your local area – contact your local Development Officer or Nation Director.

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