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Prior Experiential Learning

If you have extensive work experience in the equestrian field, or qualifications over five years old, this may still be able to count towards your BHS qualifications

  • Last reviewed: 31st July 2022

Recognition of Prior Experiential Learning (RPEL)

This route is recommended for those who have achieved their qualifications over five years ago, hold a qualification not recognised by the BHS for Recognised Prior Certificated Learning, or have industry experience such as work experience and/or competition history. We recommend that all candidates undergo training or have an initial assessment with a BHS Assessor to ensure they are at the relevant level for entry into the assessment of their choice. 

You are welcome to apply for direct entry into any BHS assessment up to, and including, BHS Performance Coach BHSI qualifications.

If you wish to apply for entry to a Ride or Coaching assessment, we require you to hold the BHS Riding and Road Safety or BHS Ride Safe Award or <link> BHS Ride Safe Silver Challenge Award. If you can provide evidence that you have covered the breadth of the Ride Safe syllabus within your application you may be exempt from this, or if your permanent home address is not in the UK or Republic of Ireland, you are exempt from Ride Safe.

Evidence should encompass the knowledge and skill requirements for each assessment prior to the requested entry point (for example, if you are looking to apply for entry to a Stage 3 assessment the knowledge and skill requirements at Stage 1 and Stage 2 are required to be evidenced in your application).

If you are applying for entry to the Stage 3 Coaching, Stage 4 Coaching or Performance Coaching, evidence of your coaching experience is required.

Direct Entry to Performance Coach BHSI

Significant industry experience, including competition history, is required from anyone wishing to apply for direct entry to the Performance Coach BHSI qualifications and their relevant units. Your application needs to evidence that you have the required level of knowledge and skill for entry into the assessment(s) of your choice.  

As part of your application, we also require you to complete practical training with a BHS Assessor or a Performance Coach BHSI or Fellow (FBHS). This coach can then sign off your training record which you will include as part of your RPEL application. If you need help finding a suitable coach or BHS Approved Centre please contact the Education team.  

Please download the relevant RPEL sign off for the assessment units within the Performance Coach BHSI for further details: 

Your application for RPEL direct entry will include one or more of the above documents, as well as the details listed in under ‘How to Apply.’ Your CV should detail work history (including experiential learning) and competition record.  

International Group for Equestrian Qualification (IGEQ) Passport Holders

IGEQ passport holders applying for direct entry to BHS assessments need to complete theRPEL application form with a copy of your CV. You will be required to take a riding assessment with a BHS Assessor. You will not be required to submit any references at this stage, and the £50 application fee will be waived via this route. 

Alternatively, you may apply through the full RPEL process as noted in this application guidance with a fee of £50. 

Additional Riding and Lungeing Pre-Assessments

In circumstances where we feel there is insufficient evidence to support your application, we may request for you to complete a lunge or riding pre-assessment before we can accept your RPEL application. You will be required to arrange a pre-assessment with a BHS Assessor at a BHS Approved Centre. The assessor must be approved to assess the pre-requisite level of entry to the assessment which you wish to enter (for example, if applying to enter at Stage 3 the assessor must assess at Stage 2). 

Depending on the additional evidence required, we may ask an assessor to assess you riding two horses on the flat and over fences to the standard required for entry into the assessment. We will, of course, provide you with a list of centres and assessors for you to contact. The cost of the assessment will be arranged between yourself and the assessor and centre. 

Acceptance of RPEL for Direct Entry

We will inform you in writing of the level of assessment you have been accepted entry into. 

When we accept your RPEL application, this will be valid for a period of five years, after which date, if you have not booked your BHS assessment, you will be required to resubmit your application to show that your prior learning and experience remains current and relevant.

Frequently Asked Questions

What BHS Stage should I apply for?

This depends on your experience which can come from many different areas. You also need to consider your confidence and where you would feel comfortable entering the BHS assessment model. Some candidates feel comfortable entering at the level they are currently working at, whereas others want to enter the level they are working towards. Ultimately, your application should illustrate that you meet the entry requirements for the assessment/s you want entry to. If you cannot demonstrate this for the level you want to begin at, you may need to consider entering the level below, or beginning from Stage 1. 

If you are uncertain if direct entry is suitable for you, we recommend having some lessons with a BHS Accredited Professional Coach or at a  BHS Approved Centrewho can help advise based on your current skills and knowledge. 

What needs to be in my CV?

Your CV should outline your equestrian career to date with detailed information to support your application. Try to provide details of any competition experience, with supporting evidence of results, for example, from British Eventing, British Dressage, British Showjumping or recorded results from British Riding Clubs. 

Who can write professional references?

References should be from equestrian professionals who have knowledge of the BHS Career Pathways, including BHS Accredited Professional Coaches or British Equestrian Federation (including British Eventing, British Showjumping or British Dressage) Accredited Trainers. 

In most cases, a reference from a BHS Assessor will be required in order for an application to be approved. Should you need assistance finding a BHS Assessor please contact the BHS Education Team on 02476 840508. 

What does the reference need to include?

References should support the entry requirements of the assessment you wish to enter including pre-requisites. For example, it should confirm your competence in riding if applying for a ride assessment, stable management if applying for a care assessment, lungeing if applying for a lunge assessment and coaching if you are applying for a coaching assessment. For applications to riding assessments, the reference should contain details that the referee has seen you ride two different horses on the flat and over jumps to the standard required for entry into the assessment. 

For entry into Riding Out qualifications, the reference should contain details that the referee has seen you ride one horse and demonstrated competent riding skills including canter, riding up and down hills, opening and closing gates and security over a jump. 

How do I apply?

To apply for direct entry into the BHS Career Pathways via RPEL we ask that you provide evidence through your CV and references to show how you have covered the entry requirements for the assessment you are applying to. This evidence could be through qualifications, for example UK Coaching Certificates or equivalent, and/or practical industry experience. We may also ask you to undertake a riding assessment with a BHS Assessor. 

Your application for direct entry will include: 

Please note: RPEL applications may take considerable time to complete. We aim to review and respond to all RPEL applications within ten working days of receipt, however we may conclude that further evidence is required from you before a final decision can be made. For this reason, we advise that you wait for the RPEL application process to be completed before you select an assessment date. The Education Team is unable to reserve places on assessments while RPEL applications are considered. 

If you require any further information or advice, please contact our BHS Education Team on 02476 840508 or use our contact form.