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BHS Approved Centre inspection | What to expect

Our Inspector uses the visit to your Centre to offer opportunity to meet with you, see the horses and ponies in your care and to gain an overview of general everyday working practice and activities – all of which helps them to understand how your Centre operates.

Approved Centres frequently have differing unique aspects that not only help to retain current clients, but also attract new ones to their door, and we are keen to recognise such aspects when an initial assessment is made.

Find out more information about becoming a BHS Approved Centre.

What to Expect

A tour of the yard with the Inspector to view the facilities, enables further observations and informal discussions and it allows for questions and answers about the assessment criteria and your Centre. The assessment focuses upon the below areas and working practices within a Centre.

Horse Welfare

This section focuses on bio-security, a Centre having sufficient experienced staff to oversee the welfare of all horses on site plus records/access to care plans such as worming, dentistry and shoeing/trimming. The welfare of the horse is the most important aspect of any professional equestrian Centre, for example, having an effective and informed preventative fire risk assessment in place.


Here relevant DBS (disclosure and barring) checks need to be in place for staff, depending upon their role within the Centre. It’s worth considering which member of staff can undertake the role of being the Safeguarding Officer (person responsible for Safeguarding) for your Centre. There is no legal requirement within local authority licensing to have any safeguarding in place so this not only makes our Approved Centres unique but is certainly appealing to those looking for a Centre to learn to ride or further enjoy their time with their horse.

Customer Care

Now we look at the overall impression of the Centre. Is the Centre safe, secure and welcoming to clients – both old and new? Are there clean rest areas or somewhere to sit? Friendly, approachable staff? Is there relevant information available for all clients? Is there a clear communication system in place for both staff and clients alike?

Teaching, Coaching and Riding Out

A BHS Stage 3 Coach in Complete Horsemanship (BHSAI as a minimum), and qualified first aider must be on site at all times at riding schools when teaching is taking place. To recognise the quality of the teaching/supervision levels and, if applicable, understand the range of riding out routes, for Riding Schools/Trekking Centres we also need to observe lesson(s) taking place.


Both horse and human! Clean toilets, suitable stables, safe and well maintained arena(s), safely stored show jumps, correctly maintained cross county course (if applicable). An older Centre can be just as Highly Commended on facilities as a new, purpose built Centre if maintained correctly!

Tack and Tack rooms

Safe and correctly fitting tack is of paramount importance for both horse and rider comfort and welfare. The Inspector will check if any riding school tack is inspected regularly for signs of wear and tear and also clearly labelled to prevent any mix ups on a busy Saturday morning!

Grassland Management and Turnout

We recognise that in some areas, access to grazing may be limited so its use needs to be well managed. The Inspector will ensure that there is safe fencing with a visible grassland/turnout management plan. Grazing should be free from poisonous plants and removal of droppings well managed. It should have access to water and shelter. Access to individual turnout, if needed, is a bonus as is hard standing in all gateways.

Legislative Compliance

The not so fun but very important part! Essential for both reputational and business protection.

Individual grading is awarded for each of these areas as this helps to recognise the differing business models that comprise membership to the scheme, for example, a Trekking Centre may not have a large outdoor arena but they undoubtedly would have superb access to glorious countryside to ride over!

We will also check risk assessments are in place for plus accident reporting procedures and relevant insurance and licensing documents.

Good employment practice is key to retaining your hard working staff – so employment contracts and development plans for staff will need to be in place.

Grading Levels

There are three grading levels of Approval within each inspection area.

The first level is Approved where all points on the criteria must be met.

The second is Commended where at least 50% of the points must be met before this level is awarded.

The third level is Highly Commended where again, at least 50% of the points need to be met in order to achieve this level.

This allows strengths within the range of differing business models that we approve to be recognised on each individual basis.

The only section this does not apply to is the Safeguarding section as there is only one level which is Approved and all points must be met to achieve this.

How we can help

Whether it be a risk assessment or rider registration form you need, once you apply you will have access to all of our templates. Our friendly team is always happy to help so if you aren’t sure about any part of the criteria, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

BHS Approvals team

02476 840509

Further information

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